Ranking every B1G player who earned Super Bowl MVP honors
Only a handful of former B1G players have ever won Super Bowl Most Valuable Player honors. A total of five players who played in the conference have received honors in history. That provides us with an idea and a nice number for a list.
The question? How would we rank every B1G player who has been named a Super Bowl MVP? That’s what we’ll answer as Super Bowl LV approaches and 20 B1G players prepare to take part in the biggest game of the season.
Not to ruin the surprise, but you can probably guess who’s No. 1 on this list.
But what other B1G players have won a Super Bowl MVP honor? And how do their NFL careers stack up against the others? We rank all five B1G players to earn the prestigious honor.
Note: Maryland’s Randy White and Penn State’s Franco Harris were not included on this list, as neither played in the B1G.
No. 5: WR Santonio Holmes (Ohio State)
MVP: Super Bowl XLIII, Pittsburgh Steelers
Stats: 9 catches, 131 yards, 1 TD
Considering the amount of NFL talent Ohio State churns out year after year, it’s crazy to think Santonio Holmes is the program’s only Super Bowl MVP. But that’s the case.
Holmes had a huge game in Super Bowl XLIII and made one of the most memorable catches in NFL history. Holmes fully extended and tapped both feet into the end zone with three Arizona Cardinals surrounding him to give the Pittsburgh Steelers a 27-23 advantage late in the game. He ended the day with 9 receptions for 131 yards and a touchdown.
Holmes had a solid NFL career, playing for the Steelers, New York Jets and Chicago Bears during his 9 seasons. He collected 389 receptions for 6,030 yards and 36 touchdowns during the regular season and accounted for another 402 yards and 5 touchdown grabs in the postseason.
No. 4: QB Len Dawson (Purdue)
MVP: Super Bowl IV, Kansas City Chiefs
Stats: 12-of-17, 142 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Len Dawson is the winner of the least impressive stat line on this list to win an MVP honor, but the famous image of the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback smoking a cigarette after leading his team to a 23-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV is one of the most iconic photographs in NFL history.
Dawson was an Iron Man quarterback of his time, enjoying a 19-year career in the NFL, spending 14 of those seasons with the Chiefs. He ended his career with over 28,000 passing yards and 239 touchdown tosses. The former Purdue star was a 6-time AFL passer rating leader and also led the AFL in passing touchdowns on 4 different occasions. During the 1960s, he was one of the most decorated quarterbacks playing the game.
There’s no doubt Dawson enjoyed a solid career at the professional level and was one of the top quarterbacks of his time. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the Boilermakers’ career is that he only won one Super Bowl in his two decades in the league.
No. 3: WR Desmond Howard (Michigan)
MVP: Super Bowl XXXI, Green Bay Packers
Stats: 244 all-purpose yards, 99-yard TD return
If there’s ever been proof that special teams can make the difference in a game, Desmond Howard’s incredible performance in Super Bowl XXXI is it. The Michigan star and Heisman Trophy winner helped lead the Green Bay Packers to a 35-21 victory over the New England Patriots without catching a single pass. Instead, one of the greatest return men to ever play totaled 244 yards on kickoff and punt returns, which included a 99-yard touchdown on a kickoff return in the 4th quarter to seal the victory.
Howard had an impressive NFL career as a return specialist, totaling more than 10,000 yards on kickoff and punt returns and scoring 8 touchdowns throughout his career on special teams. His role as a receiver was minimal, totaling just 123 catches for 1,597 yards and 7 touchdowns in his 10-year career in the league.
To this day, Howard is still the only player in Super Bowl history to earn MVP honors solely based on his special teams contributions. That’s an accomplishment hard to replicate.
No. 2: QB Drew Brees (Purdue)
MVP: Super Bowl XLIV, New Orleans Saints
Stats: 32-of-39, 288 yards, 2 TDs
Over the course of his 20-year career, Drew Brees has rewritten the NFL record book, owning several passing records. He’s accounted for more than 80,000 yards, thrown 10,000 passes, totaled 571 touchdown strikes and 67.7% career completion rate. Despite all the numbers, the Purdue legend has only appeared in one Super Bowl.
Brees made the most of that opportunity, completing 32-of-39 pass attempts for 288 yards and a pair of touchdowns without an interception, leading the New Orleans Saints to a 31-17 victory in Super Bowl XLIV and became the second Boilermaker to earn Super Bowl MVP honors.
Since arriving in New Orleans, Brees has been one of the NFL’s premier quarterbacks. Even in an era that saw superstars like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady emerge as the top passers in the game, Brees was able to carve out a spot in history and is going to be remembered as one of the best ever to throw the football.
If not for another QB out of the B1G, Brees would easily be No. 1 on this list with his mountain of accomplishments.
No. 1: QB Tom Brady (Michigan)
MVP: Super Bowl XXXVI; Super Bowl XXXVIII; Super Bowl XLIX; Super Bowl LI, New England Patriots
Stats: 16-of-27, 145 yards, 1 TD; 32-of-48, 354 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT; 37-of-50, 328 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs; 43-of-62, 466 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Are the four Super Bowl MVP honors and ridiculous stat lines not enough for you? Is it really necessary to explain why Tom Brady is the greatest B1G player — actually, the greatest ever — to win the top honor in the biggest game of the year?
It’s not, but it’s going to happen anyway.
The numbers from Brady’s first appearance in Super Bowl XXXVI reminds you of Dawson’s stat line from Super Bowl IV. It’s not very attractive. But that was really the former Michigan QB’s only subpar outing while earning the MVP honors. He’s thrown for at least 300 yards and finished with a minimum of 2 touchdown passes in each of the other three games. Even in an era where the passing attack has become king, that’s pretty impressive.
Brady is a 6-time Super Bowl champion and will be playing in his 10th Super Bowl on Sunday, his first with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He’s continued to play at a high level into his 40s and doesn’t seem interested in slowing down. Brady is a 14-time Pro Bowl selection and is approaching 80,000 career passing yards and has thrown 581 touchdown passes.
Rarely is there a situation in which these lists can’t be debated. This time, though, there’s no question Brady belongs at the top of the list. He’ll probably stay here for quite some time.