Five Super Bowl MVP Mistakes (And One Dishonorable Mention)
Every Super Bowl has had a Most Valuable Player or Players. Some who won the award deserved it, like Marcus Allen in Super Bowl XVIII who rushed 20 times for 191 yards and 2 touchdowns, including an iconic 74 yard sprint to the house that all but ended the game in their 38-9 destruction of the Washington Redskins.
Others, however, were named MVP but were lucky to get the honor. Maybe it was because the eventual MVP had a bigger name than someone more deserving. Perhaps the real MVP just didn't stand out enough.
Regardless, I'd like to shine the light on five Super Bowl MVP flubs and acknowledge those who were wronged on the league's biggest stage.
There is a history of questionable and unorthodox awarding of the Super Bowl MVP. Hey, the NFL gave the award to a player on a losing team (Dallas' Chuck Howley, SB V) and awarded Co-MVP's (Dallas' Randy White/Harvey Martin, SB XII) once upon a time.
If voting were close, multiple winners isn't as egregious an error as ignoring the true game standouts. Yet it has happened in the past and may continue in the future. Let's just hope the Super Bowl XLV MVP is actually worthy of the honor.
Super Bowl I: Bart Starr Over Max McGee
Quarterback Bart Starr had a good Super Bowl I, going 16 of 23 for 250 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Wide Receiver Max McGee, however, had a great Super Bowl I and should have been the game's Most Valuable Player.
McGee, who didn't expect to play and only did due to an injury to Packers receiver Boyd Dowler, caught seven passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns.
The fact that MVP went to Starr began a trend that would continue much too frequently, giving the trophy to the star signal caller over position players who performed better.
A perfect example of this would occur two years later.
Super Bowl III: Joe Namath Over Matt Snell
Joe Namath threw for 206 yards, competing 17 of 28 passes in Super Bowl III and was named the MVP. Those numbers are rather pedestrian when you add the fact that he didn't even throw (or run) for a touchdown.
His backfield mate, fullback Matt Snell, did score, though. Actually, he got to the end zone for the lone Jets touchdown on a four-yard run.
Snell finished with 30 carries for 121 yards and was really responsible for the ball-control offense that allowed New York to upset Baltimore.
Snell should have been the MVP. Namath got it because he had lots of help in backing up his guarantee.
Super Bowl XI: Fred Biletnikoff Over Clarence Davis
Super Bowl XI was a game that had a lot of good performances. Oakland beat Minnesota, 32-14 for the franchise's first Super Bowl. Receiver Fred Biletnikoff was named MVP, catching 4 balls for 79 yards. Though he didn't score, he did set up three Oakland touchdowns.
The Raiders other standouts included running back Pete Banaszak, who had two touchdowns. Tight End Dave Casper had 70 yards receiving on 4 passes caught, including a 1-yard touchdown. Even signal caller Ken Stabler was solid with a 180 yard passing day and a touchdown.
Bottom line, though, running back Clarence Davis rushed 16 times for 137 yards, nearly nine yards a carry! He was clearly the most dominant performer that day in Pasadena and should have been the true MVP.
Super Bowl XXXVII: Dexter Jackson Over Dwight Smith
Quick, name the MVP of Super Bowl XXXVII. Can't do it? No surprise. Especially when the answer did all his damage on two plays in the first half and neither got him into the end zone.
Tampa Bay Safety Dexter Jackson picked off Oakland QB Rich Gannon twice to set the tone and the Bucs routed the Raiders, 48-21.
Bucs' DE Simeon Rice had three sacks, WR Keenan McCardell caught two touchdown passes and RB Michael Pittman rushed for 124 yards on 29 carries.
All great performances but a defensive player should have been named MVP and that was Safety Dwight Smith who picked off two Gannon passes in the second half and returned them for 44 and 50 yard touchdowns, respectively.
Thus he became the only player in Super Bowl history to return two interceptions for scores. Definitely MVP material.
Super Bowl XLI: Peyton Manning Over Dominic Rhodes
When does a 21 carry, 113 yard rushing and one touchdown performance leave you an afterthought in Super Bowl MVP voting? When one of the NFL's poster children is your quarterback.
The fact is that Dominic Rhodes put up numbers that were more than at least qualified to be Co-MVP with Peyton Manning. Heck, Peyton was league Co-MVP with QB Steve McNair of the Titans back in 2003.
Manning threw for 247 yards, a touchdown and a pick but he would have had to have been in negative numbers for him not to get the nod in his first Super Bowl.
It would have just looked awful for a favorite son not to walk off with an award proclaiming him the best player in the game, even though he really wasn't.
This was proof the NFL doesn't really care about perception. Their first display of this happened just the year before.
Dishonorable Mention, Super Bowl XL: Hines Ward Over The Game Officials
There's a reason you see officials in the corresponding picture. Super Bowl XL's MVP(s) were the guys in the black and white stripes who out and out stole the game from the Seattle Seahawks and handed it to Pittsburgh.
Sure, Hines Ward was named MVP for the Steelers (it should have been spelled Steal-ers) after catching 5 balls for 123 yards and a touchdown. Yet when a group of people who are responsible for being fair, purposely prevent the other team from having an equal shot at victory, it can't be ignored.
Starting with Jerome Bettis' possible retirement and coming back to his hometown to the promos shown on television throughout the game, it was like Seattle was coming to their own funeral.
The officials (and perhaps the league) wanted to see a happy ending for Pittsburgh and that's what they made sure happened. It made people wonder if anything was legit and the stench still lingers five years later.
It didn't help when referee Bill Leavy later admitted to blowing calls in the game. I wonder if Hines Ward split the MVP trophy with the real guys who made it possible?