As the final whistle of Super Bowl LVII blows and confetti falls, don’t turn off your TV quite yet. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will have one more trophy to hand out – Super Bowl MVP.
There’s no formula for winning the coveted award. Players on both sides of the ball, those who make game-changing plays and who offer a steady consistency, and even in one exceptional occasion, a player from the losing team, have all earned Super Bowl MVP honors.
Learn more about some of the all-time greats to win the MVP honors and what to look for when predicting the newest addition to the list in Super Bowl LVII.
Who has multiple Super Bowl MVPs?
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Only five players have won multiple Super Bowl MVPs throughout their career – all of whom were quarterbacks. This accomplishment stretches from Bart Starr in Super Bowl I and II to Tom Brady, securing his fifth MVP honors in 2020.
Tom Brady (5)
The records speak for themselves and at this point, the name Tom Brady is practically synonymous with Super Bowl MVP.
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In addition to being the all-time leader in Super Bowl MVPs at five, Brady is the only player in NFL history to earn this title with two different teams (Patriots and Buccaneers). Brady’s seven Super Bowl rings are more than any single franchise and he continues to win at a high level, most recently becoming the oldest Super Bowl MVP at 43 when he led Tampa Bay to a 31-9 victory over Kansas City.
With Brady's recent retirement, it's fair to assume he'll be capped at five but with his record safe for at least the near future.
Joe Montana (3)
Before there was Brady, there was Montana.
The legendary 49ers quarterback won four Super Bowls in the red and gold, earning MVP honors in three of those showings. Ironically, one of his most iconic highlights occurred in the Super Bowl XXIII, his lone victory that didn’t end in an MVP trophy.
Despite backup quarterback and eventual Super Bowl MVP Steve Young posing a serious threat to his starting spot for much of the regular season, Montana secured the job heading into the playoffs. He led San Francisco to the Super Bowl where the Cincinnati Bengals awaited.
With just over three minutes remaining and 92 yards between him and the end zone, Montana channeled his inner Joe Cool and marched down the field, connecting with receiver John Taylor for a game-winning touchdown. Teammate Jerry Rice caught 215 receiving yards en route to being named MVP.
Bart Starr (2)
It’s impossible to understate Starr’s impact on the Super Bowl. Starr led the Packers to back-to-back victories in Super Bowl I and II, defeating the Chiefs and Raiders, respectively.
Starr played under Vince Lombardi, the eventual namesake of the Super Bowl trophy, and helped establish Green Bay as one of the historic powerhouses of the NFL. His postseason passer rating of 104.8 remains the highest of all time and earned him the reputation of being a clutch finisher in the playoffs.
Terry Bradshaw (2)
With Bradshaw at the helm, the Steelers enjoyed a decade of dominance. Pittsburgh won four Super Bowls in six years and gave rise to legendary players and moments including the terrible towel and the Immaculate Reception.
It wasn’t until the third ring, however, that Bradshaw was named MVP with a 35-31 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
Bradshaw famously threw for 318 passing yards and four touchdowns in the wake of mocking comments by Cowboys linebacker Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson which were recently invoked by Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.
He returned to the Super Bowl the following season and beat the Los Angeles Rams en route to his fourth ring and second MVP trophy.
Eli Manning (2)
Yes, you’re reading that correctly. Eli – not Peyton – cracks this list.
Some may remember him for his inconsistency late in his career, but Eli Manning knew how to perform on the big stage. The younger Manning won two Super Bowl MVPs with the Giants, placing him among elite company. Beating the Patriots both times, Manning is one of only two quarterbacks to deny Tom Brady a ring in his ten trips to the Super Bowl.
His first Super Bowl ring – courtesy of a 17-14 victory over the heavily-favored Patriots – came one year after his older brother won his lone Super Bowl MVP.
Eli Manning followed up with a second Super Bowl ring in similar fashion – late-game, come-from-behind heroics against the Patriots. In what was later described as an “accidental touchdown,” Giant running back Ahmad Bradshaw famously tried to stop short of the goal line but fell forward. This put the Giants ahead, but also gave the Patriots the ball with over a minute remaining, plenty of time for Brady to capitalize. The Patriots’ offense were unable to convert down the stretch and the Giants held on to win the franchise’s fourth Super Bowl.
Who decides the Super Bowl MVP?
The Super Bowl MVP selection is based on a combination of fan and media votes. Ballots are open from the beginning of the fourth quarter until the end of the game.
The media, made up of 16 members of the Professional Football Writers of America, accounts for 80% of the vote. The remaining 20% (four votes) is up to the fans, who have been voting online since 2001.
Has a player from the losing team ever won Super Bowl MVP?
Cowboys linebacker Chuck Howley made history in Super Bowl V when he became the first non-quarterback and only member of the losing team to win Super Bowl MVP. Howley, an original member of the “Doomsday Defense,” recorded two interceptions and forced a fumble in the Cowboys’ 16-13 loss to the Baltimore Colts.
Howley’s MVP award remains controversial, with arguments against his selection ranging being on the losing end should automatically disqualify someone from MVP contention to Baltimore Colts tight end John Mackey posted an equally, if not more deserving performance for the winning team.
Mackey recorded 80 yards against the Cowboys, including a 75-yard touchdown catch that deflected off two other players.
Has there ever been multiple MVPs in one Super Bowl?
Yet another unusual MVP cycle belongs to members of the “Doomsday Defense.”
Harvey Martin and Randy White were named co-MVPs of Super Bowl XII, the first and only time two players have been honored in the same game. The defensive duo led the Cowboys to a 27-10 win over the Broncos.
The voters, made up of members of the media covering the game, reportedly wanted to name the entire Dallas defensive unit MVP. However, the NFL denied that request and compromised with awarding co-MVPs.
How many quarterbacks have won Super MVP?
Of the 56 Super Bowl MVPs, 31 have gone to quarterbacks.
What positions have won Super Bowl MVP?
Football awards remain a quarterback’s game at nearly every level and the sport’s biggest stage is no exception. Beside the 31 signal callers, running backs and wide receivers have each won the award seven times. The remaining 10 awards belong to linebackers (4), defensive ends (2), safeties (2), cornerbacks (1), defensive tackles (1) and kick/punt returners (1).
Desmond Howard remains the only player solely on special teams to make this list, earning the award after a 99-kickoff return in Super Bowl XXXI, effectively sealing the victory for the Green Bay Packers. He also recorded a 90-yard punt return for a total of 244 all-purpose yards to round out the day.
How many Super Bowl MVPs are still actively playing?
There are seven active Super Bowl MVPs, including Brady. They are:
- Aaron Rodgers (Super Bowl XLV)
- Joe Flacco (Super Bowl XLVII)
- Malcolm Smith (Super Bowl XLVIII)
- Von Miller (Super Bowl 50)
- Nick Foles (Super Bowl LII)
- Patrick Mahomes (LIV)
- Cooper Kupp (Super Bowl LVI)
With the NFL playoffs down to two teams, Mahomes the only player on that list who could win a second MVP trophy on Sunday night.