The History Of Quarterbacks & The Super Bowl MVP Award – And Why You May Want To Bet On It

Written By Martin Derbyshire on January 27, 2022 - Last Updated on June 8, 2022
NFL Super Bowl MVP Award To Bet And Look Out For

Leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, legal online sportsbooks will post hundreds of props and live betting markets to pick from. One of those markets definitely worth saving some bankroll to bet on is the winner of the Super Bowl MVP award.

If you’ve watched football at all over the last decade, you know QBs have had a stranglehold on Super Bowl MVP – and that’s not entirely due to Tom Brady. Quarterbacks are named Super Bowl MVP very often.

But other position players can break through to take it down. And when they do, you’re likely to get paid very well on an early futures bet.

So, when it comes to Super Bowl MVP betting, does it make sense to just bet on a QB and call it a day? We’ll walk you through it right here.

Note: In the lead-up to the game, and even during the action itself, check for live odds on all MVP candidates over on our dedicated Super Bowl MVP Odds page.

How often do QBs win Super Bowl MVP?

You’ve probably heard that QBs win the Super Bowl MVP award a lot. As far as blanket statements go, that’s actually a fair one. Through 55 Super Bowls, a QB has been named MVP 31 times. In winning percentage terms, signal-callers are hitting at a 56% clip. There have also been several stretches in which QBs have had lengthy winning streaks.

  • Super Bowl I-IV (1967-70)
  • Super Bowl XIII-XVI (1979-82)
  • Super Bowl XLIV-XLVII (2010-13)

Outside of those streaks, there have also been six times in which the QB has been named the MVP at back-to-back Super Bowls. So has there ever been a long gap in time between signal-callers winning the award? Yep, but only twice.

  • Super Bowl VII-XII (1973-78)
  • Super Bowl XXX-XXXII (1996-98)

Since 1998, a QB hasn’t won the award for two years in a row just once. That happened in 2005 and 2006, with WRs winning both times. In other words, the conventional wisdom that suggests that a QB wins the Super Bowl MVP award a lot has been on the money since around the turn of the century.

Which of the contenders have a legit chance at Super Bowl MVP?

If we look to the futures market for the winner of the next Super Bowl, here are the current top contenders for Super Bowl MVP, according to the latest Super Bowl odds.

Now that the matchup is official and you’re sorting through the candidates beyond the QB work through the following questions.

  • Which skill position players receive the most targets and touches?
  • Which offensive players are capable of game-changing plays in an instant?
  • Which defenders are forcing the most turnovers?
  • Which defensive players have the most sacks and tackles?

You can find the answers to those questions quickly on any site that does a good job of listing out NFL stats. Once you’re done, you’ll have yourself a shortlist of realistic Super Bowl MVP contenders to further research.

When was the last time a non-QB won Super Bowl MVP?

We actually don’t have to go back too far to find the answer. At Super Bowl LIII in 2019, WR Julian Edelman had himself a day as the New England Patriots won yet another Super Bowl. He broke a two-year streak for QBs while doing so, but another back-to-back stretch happened right afterward. Here are the last five non-QB winners prior to that.

  • 2016: Von Miller, LB, Denver Broncos
  • 2014: Malcolm Smith, LB, Seattle Seahawks
  • 2009: Santonio Holmes, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • 2006: Hines Ward, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • 2003: Dexter Jackson, S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Since 2003, just three defenders have won the Super Bowl MVP award, but it’s not a totally rare occurrence on an all-time basis. Wide receivers have also won three over the same time frame, but we have to go back to 1998 to find the last running back to win: Terrell Davis of the Denver Broncos at Super Bowl XXXII.

Super Bowl MVP betting trends

If we look back at the most recent decade of Super Bowls, a QB has won MVP seven out of 10 times. For the ten years prior to that, a QB was the winner six times. Add it all up, and the MVP award has gone to a non-QB for seven of the last 20 Super Bowls, or 35% of the time.

As for all-time trends, they may make for interesting talking points, but they’re not very relevant when it comes to picking out the most likely Super Bowl MVP award winners. The game has evolved, and QBs get much more of the credit for team success as a result.

For some middle ground, we can go back to 2000 and consider any Super Bowl that has happened since that point to be more of the ‘modern era’ of the Big Game. There have been 22 Super Bowls since then. Here’s how it has translated for the MVP award.

  • QBs: 14
  • WRs: 4
  • Defense: 4

The NFL game is geared towards offense. Quarterbacks get a ton of time in the spotlight, and many Super Bowl MVP bettors tend to lean in that direction as a result. Another position can step up and nab the award, but it requires a special effort.

Super Bowl MVP all-time position breakdown

For further perspective on the dominance of QBs in the Super Bowl MVP award race, it’s helpful to look at it in the context of the full positional breakdown of award winners. Here’s how the award has been spread out through 55 Super Bowls. Please note that the total number of winners is actually 56 due to co-winners at Super Bowl XII.

PositionAwards% of TotalLast Won
Quarterbacks3155.42021
Running Backs712.51998
Wide Receivers712.52019
Linebacker47.12016
Defensive End23.61986
Safety23.62003
Cornerback11.81996
Defensive Tackle11.81978
Returner11.81997

Defenders and special teams players have accounted for a total of 11 awards, so it clearly takes a special effort from a member of that group to breakthrough. A tight end has never been named Super Bowl MVP, while RBs are in the midst of a significant drought.

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Multiple Super Bowl MVP award winners

This is a very exclusive club. Only five players have won the Super Bowl MVP award multiple times. All five of them are QBs. Here’s the full list.

  • 5: Tom Brady, New England Patriots, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • 3: Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers
  • 2: Bart Starr, Green Bay Packers
  • 2: Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • 2: Eli Manning, New York Giants

Brady has lapped the field. He doesn’t look finished just yet either, so we can’t rule out another trophy. Joe Flacco, Malcolm Smith, Von Miller, Nick Foles, and Patrick Mahomes are the other active players to have won a Super Bowl MVP award. Mahomes and Miller are the most likely members of that group to have a realistic shot at winning another.

As for the individual teams, the franchises that have appeared in the most Super Bowls naturally have the most award winners. Here’s the current list of clubs that have generated three or more winners.

  • 7: Dallas Cowboys, last at Super Bowl XXX
  • 6: Pittsburgh Steelers, last at Super Bowl XLIII
  • 6: New England Patriots, last at Super Bowl LIII
  • 5: San Francisco 49ers, last at Super Bowl XXIX
  • 4: Green Bay Packers, last at Super Bowl XLV
  • 4: New York Giants, last at Super Bowl XLVI
  • 3: Las Vegas Raiders, last at Super Bowl XVIII
  • 3: Washington Football Team, last at Super Bowl XXVI
  • 3: Denver Broncos, last at Super Bowl L
Photo by Alena Veasey / Shutterstock.com
Martin Derbyshire Avatar
Written by
Martin Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire has more than ten years of experience reporting on the poker, online gambling, and land-based casino industries for a variety of publications including Bluff Magazine, PokerNews, and PokerListings. He has traveled extensively, attending tournaments and interviewing major players in the gambling world.

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