The NFL Playoff matchups are set for Wild Card weekend. In no time at all, a champion will be crowned. Not only that, but one player will walk away knowing he had the biggest impact in his team’s championship victory by becoming the 51st Super Bowl MVP.
Among the athletes to shout, “I’m going to Disneyland,” a tradition started in 1987 by MVP Phil Simms, there has been a combination of slam-dunk and questionable choices alike. 23 Super Bowl MVP awards have been bestowed upon Hall of Famers. That’s not counting times current players or recent retirees have won, such as Tom Brady (three times), Peyton Manning and Ray Lewis.
This article therefore splits the fifteen players using two criteria. This list has ten slots that are occupied by the “worst” players to win a Super Bowl MVP. These individuals rose to the occasion of the big stage despite the absence of a Hall of Fame resume during their overall career. The final five players either have a bust in Canton or will join the Hall someday soon, but they won the award due to their position, legacy or bravado instead of Super Bowl performance.
14 Worst to Win: Jim Plunkett (Super Bowl XV)
13 Didn't Deserve It: Peyton Manning (Super Bowl XLI)
12 Worst to Win: Mark Rypien (Super Bowl XXVI)
11 Worst to Win: Larry Brown (Super Bowl XXX)
10 Didn't Deserve It: Tom Brady (Super Bowl XXXVI)
9 Worst to Win: Santonio Holmes (Super Bowl XLIII)
8 Worst to Win: Deion Branch (Super Bowl XXXIX)
7 Didn't Deserve It: Len Dawson (Super Bowl IV)
6 Worst to Win: Malcolm Smith (Super Bowl XLVIII)
5 Worst to Win: Desmond Howard (Super Bowl XXXI)
4 Didn't Deserve It: Ray Lewis (Super Bowl XXXV)
3 Worst to Win: Dexter Jackson (Super Bowl XXXVII)
2 Worst to Win: Joe Namath (Super Bowl III)
1 Didn't Deserve It: Fred Biletnikoff (Super Bowl XI)
Fred Biletnikoff is a Hall of Fame wide receiver, but his Super Bowl MVP award is the most baffling of them all. Biletnikoff caught four passes for 79 yards. Although he did not score a touchdown, his receptions helped set up three Raiders touchdowns in the team’s 32-14 victory over the Vikings. Dave Casper’s day mirrored Biletnikoff’s almost exactly (four catches, 70 yards), only he added a touchdown. Clarence Davis ran 16 times for 137 yards. He could have had a legendary outing if Pete Banaszak had not vultured two rushing touchdowns at the goal line. On the defensive side of the ball, Willie Brown added a 75-yard pick six. Nevertheless, Biletnikoff came away with a ring and an MVP award. He’s the only receiver to win with less than 100 yards receiving and one of three offensive players to do so without scoring a touchdown.
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