Some thoughts on the Super Bowl MVP award over the years.
Sports Illustrated has just posted a photo-collection of all of the MVPs from history's 47 Super Bowls. It's an interesting journey and an eye-opening one. I went into the collection expecting to find the list completely dominated by quarterbacks, or at least quarterbacks and runningbacks, and, though 26 of the 47 MVPS have in fact been pivots, I was surprised to find the award has been spread around quite nicely.
In fact, from what I could see, the only positions that are not represented on the list are kickers/punters and offensive linemen.
And the longest run of consecutive quarterback MVPs is four years: the first four and the last four. In the 1970s, in fact, six straight MVP awards went to players in other positions: a safety, two running backs, two receivers and, sharing the award, two defensive linemen.
If there is a source for concern, however, it's that the last four MVPs and six of the last seven have been quarterbacks, suggesting that we might (and I repeat might) be moving in an unhappy direction where the pivot for the winning team is the default pick unless some other player does something spectacular (apparently, more spectacular than catching a 56-yard TD pass and returning the opening kick off of the second half for a TD as well but...).
My review also showed me that a defensive back or safety can win the award but only if he makes at least two interceptions in the game. The only DBs (and one of the LBs) who won the award picked off two in the Super Bowl.
I have to admit, I'd really like to see an offensive lineman (or, if you have to go that way, an offensive line as a unit) win the award.
So often, one team enters the big game featuring a legendary defensive front and promises to decimate the opposing quarterback. In many cases, that defensive front is led by a fearsome pass rushing defensive end or linebacker.
And there have been games when that fearsome front has been blunted by the opposition's offensive line, that rises to the occasion and gives their quarterback time to throw, their runningbacks room to run.
Can't that offensive line win the MVP? Does the award have to go to the QB that took advantage of their efforts to throw up big numbers?
By all accounts, for example, Baltimore offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele, a rookie, did a great job blocking the feared defensive linemen of the Forty-Niners in this year's Super Bowl. He outperformed expectations and kept Flacco clean, allowing him to pile up passing yards while throwing three TD passes.
Could Osemele not be considered the MVP? Or he and his linemates?
I'm not saying Osmele should have been selected the MVP in this year's Super Bowl. I'm merely using him and his performance on Sunday as an example of a situation where an offensive lineman could win the award.
And if Adam Vinateri hasn't won the award as a kicker, then I hold out no hope for future foot-men to win it.