NFL: 5 Super Bowl MVPs Who Shocked the World
Heroes are made on Super Bowl Sunday. While winning a Super Bowl will solidify a team’s place in professional sports history, winning a Super Bowl MVP award will immortalize players who oftentimes have had — and go on to continue to have — mediocre NFL careers. With that being said, here’s a look at the five most unlikely Super Bowl most valuable players in NFL history.
1. Larry Brown, cornerback, Dallas Cowboys – Super Bowl XXX
Brown surprisingly stole the show in the Cowboys’ 27-17 Super Bowl win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. He picked off two second-half Neil O’Donnell passes, both of which resulted in Dallas touchdowns on the ensuing drives, and helped prevent the Steelers from making a late comeback.
Brown signed with the Oakland Raiders in the weeks following his Super Bowl MVP performance and never made a Pro Bowl or All-Pro team during his eight-year professional career.
2. Desmond Howard, kick returner, Green Bay Packers – Super Bowl XXXI
Howard out-shined his Packers teammates and became the first special teams player to ever win Super Bowl MVP following the Packers’ 35-21 win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI. He returned a third-quarter kickoff 99 yards for what ended up being the final score of the game, giving him a total of 154 kickoff return yards to go along with 90 punt return yards for the day.
This was really the only time Howard looked like the player everyone thought he would be in the NFL. Despite entering the league as a Heisman Trophy winner at Michigan and the fourth overall pick in the 1992 NFL Draft, winning the Super Bowl XXXI most valuable player award was far and away his biggest professional accomplishment.
3. Dexter Jackson, safety, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Super Bowl XXXVII
Jackson took home the Super Bowl XXXVII MVP award after picking off two first-half Rich Gannon passes. The Bucs thoroughly dominated the Oakland Raiders, winning by a score of 48-21. Jackson was somewhat of a surprise pick, as fellow defensive back Dwight Smith also had two interceptions, but he returned both for touchdowns. That being said, it was Jackson’s interceptions that ended the game before it ever really was in question.
Jackson went on to have a 10-year NFL career, but made zero Pro Bowls and no All-Pro teams.
4. Malcolm Smith, linebacker, Seattle Seahawks – Super Bowl XLVIII
Smith went from a late-round draft pick who was happy to be on the Seahawks’ active roster to the surprising MVP of Super Bowl XLVIII. During the Seahawks’ 43-8 blowout win over the Denver Broncos, Smith intercepted a second-quarter Peyton Manning pass and returned it 69 yards for a touchdown. He followed that up with six tackles and a fumble recovery en route to taking home a brand new Chevy Silverado as the game’s MVP.
5. Doug Williams, quarterback, Washington Redskins – Super Bowl XXII
Williams, who was a backup to start the season, turned in arguably the greatest individual performance in Super Bowl history in the Redskins’ 42-10 blowout win over the Denver Broncos. The Broncos jumped out to a 10-0 lead before Williams caught fire and lit up the Denver defense for 340 yards and four touchdown passes. Williams’s performance against the Broncos on the game’s biggest stage was far and away the best game in his nine-year NFL career, for which he held a 69.4 quarterback rating. In Super Bowl XXII, his quarterback rating was 127.9.
Williams is now a member of the Washington Redskins Ring of Fame despite never making a Pro Bowl or All-Pro team during his career.
Statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.