Kurt Warner’s been receiving some attention this week, mainly because he’s being honored by the Arizona Cardinals and buzz is beginning to pick up regarding a potential first-ballot Hall of Fame entry in 2015. As a result, this tidbit popped up on Reddit Thursday: Warner is the last regular-season MVP to go on to win the Super Bowl in the same year.
He accomplished that feat in 1999, which means MVPs are 0-for-14 this century in Super Bowl attempts.
But as you can see, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Nearly half of the players who won MVPs during that stretch made the Super Bowl (6 of 14). Although it is pretty wild that MVPs are 0-for-6 in the big game this century, especially if you believe in jinxes.
For comparison’s sake, let’s go back the previous 14 years.
Amazing. They go 0-for-14 post century turn, with six Super Bowl appearances and only seven conference title game appearances (and that’s being generous by not counting Manning and McNair twice in 2003). And in a mirroring sample from before the turn of the century, they go 7-for-14 in the Super Bowl and make the conference championship game 13 times out of 14.
So MVPs have truly been performing significantly worse in the playoffs, right across the board.
But what about the first 20 years of the Super Bowl era? Amazingly, only three MVPs won the championship during that time — Bart Starr with the Packers in 1966 (Super Bowl I), Terry Bradshaw with the Steelers in 1978 and placekicker Mark Moseley with the Redskins in 1982.
We actually went 11 years in a row without a Super Bowl-winning MVP, and only eight of the 20 got to the Super Bowl (just as many failed to make the conference title game). In other words, it was a lot like it is now.
So only 10 times in history has a regular-season MVP gone on to win the Super Bowl. That’s a rate of 21 percent. It remains statistically improbable that we’d go 14 years without that happening, but it’s a big, parity-drenched league. And the reality is that the true anomaly took place in the 14 seasons preceding the turn of the century.