Super Bowl LI will be played this coming Sunday with the New England Patriots facing the Atlanta Falcons. For the most part, over the last 30 years the Most Valuable Player Award has gone to a member of the offense on the winning team. Quarterbacks in particular, have dominated the MVP Award. Tom Brady of the Patriots has won three of them in the four times that his team has been victorious at the Super Bowl over the past 17 years.
I forget who it was that said “defense wins championships,” but whoever it was certainly knows his sports. Two out of the last three Super Bowls have been because the defense has dominated the field, and a defensive player has won the MVP award. However, over the last 35 years, there were just four other Super Bowls that awarded a defensive player the MVP award. Let’s look at them!
Who could forget Richard Dent of the 1985-86 Chicago Bears? As a fan of the Patriots, I can tell you that I will never forget Dent and what he did to my favorite team. The thing I most remember are his eyes. He had such an intense look on every down. It was almost as though he could look right through into a quarterback’s soul and incite fear. Super Bowl XX was an awful game because the Bears’ defense completely shut down the Patriots. Indeed, quarterback Tony Eason was sacked countless times, and then backup QB Steve Grogan did only slightly better.
Dent was the on-field captain of the Chicago defense, and he never let the Patriots forget that this particular Super Bowl was his from start to finish. Steiner Sports still has Richard Dent’s signed Super Bowl XX football that celebrates his MVP Award from that game available for purchase.
We fast forward now to Super Bowl XXX; it’s been 10 years between MVP Awards for a defensive player. But in this particular Super Bowl, it’s cornerback Larry Brown of the Dallas Cowboys who gets the award. Brown was the first defensive back since 1972 to win the MVP and the first cornerback in history to do so. Brown was in integral part of all three Cowboys’ Super Bowl winning teams in the nineties. Steiner Sports has a Larry Brown signed football commemorating his Super Bowl XX MVP Award.
This time only five years go by before a defensive player takes the MVP Award, as linebacker Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens caps a spectacular season. During the season prior to Super Bowl XXV, Lewis won Defensive Player of the Year leading the Ravens to produce one of the greatest defensive teams in the history of the NFL. Lewis was a 13-time Pro Bowl nominee and he was a 10-time Associated Press All-Pro. Lewis was the second linebacker to win the Super Bowl MVP award. He would go on for another 12 seasons as a fearsome linebacker for the Ravens. Steiner Sports has both signed and unsigned pictures of Lewis at Super Bowl XXV.
The Patriots would win three of the next four Super Bowls, but sandwiched in there at Super Bowl XXXVII would be a defensive player winning the MVP Award. Dexter Jackson, a safety for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would win the MVP Award for Super Bowl XXXVII. Jackson won for his two interceptions in the big game with votes sent in from fans. Without those votes, the award would have gone to Simeon Rice. Lewis went on to play a few more years but never had another big season, or big game, like that again. Still, Steiner Sports has a signed Dexter Jackson football commemorating his Super Bowl XXVII MVP award.
This leaves us with two defensive MVPs. The first is Malcolm Smith, linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks. Smith intercepted a Peyton Manning pass and returned it for a touchdown early in Super Bowl XLVII to put his team ahead 22-0 against the Broncos. He later recovered a fumble in the game as well. Oddly enough, the Seahawks made him a part time player the following year despite his late season and Super Bowl heroics. In 2015, he signed a contract with the Oakland Raiders, where he remains today. You can get a Malcolm Smith signed football commemorating his Super Bowl XLVII MVP Award from Steiner Sports.
The same teams would meet again two years later for Super Bowl L (50). This time it’s the Denver Broncos led by linebacker Von Miller who would win the big game. While quarterback Peyton Manning would be the center of attention due to it being his last NFL game, it’s Miller who dominates the playing field during this Super Bowl. Miller finished the game with 2.5 sacks of quarterback Cam Newton and an interception for good measure. Steiner Sports has several pictures of Miller during that Super Bowl game available currently at discounted prices.