Freshly minted MVP Cam Newton will take the field at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday looking to deliver the Carolina Panthers’ first Super Bowl in team history. Newton will also have the opportunity to join a class of 10 athletes who have earned MVP honors and also won the Super Bowl in the same season.
Here is how previous NFL stars pulled off the regular season and Super Bowl double:
Bart Starr, 1966 NFL MVP and Super Bowl I champion
At this point in his career, Starr had already established himself as one of the most dominant quarterbacks in the league. He had been named to three Pro Bowl teams before the 1966 season, when he completed 62.2% of his passes for 2,257 yards and 14 touchdowns with only 3 interceptions. He was named MVP over Larry Wilson of the St. Louis Cardinals before clinching a berth in the first Super Bowl.
The Packers got out to an early lead as Starr connected with Max McGee for a 37-yard pass for the first score of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Packers would only lead 14–10 going into halftime. Starr headed the Packers’ second half offensive turnaround, when Green Bay scored 21 unanswered points including a 13-yard touchdown pass to McGee in the third quarter. Starr was named the game’s MVP after completing 16 of 23 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.
Terry Bradshaw, 1978 MVP and Super Bowl XIII champion
In the first Super Bowl played at night, Bradshaw and the Steelers were looking to cement their legacy as the greatest team of the 1970s in their clash with the defending champion Dallas Cowboys. Bradshaw hit John Stallworth with a 28-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring. Although he finished with 17 out of 30 pass completions and Super Bowl records with 318 passing yards and 4 touchdown passes, he also turned the ball over three times. He broke Johnny Unitas’s record for longest touchdown pass in Super Bowl history by connecting with Stallworth on a 75-yard heave.
Watch Stallworth’s score below:
Just before halftime, Bradshaw hit Rocky Bleier for a seven-yard touchdown that would give the Steelers a lead they never gave up, winning 35–31.
Mark Moseley, 1982 MVP and Super Bowl XVII champion
Moseley is the lone kicker to be named MVP in the history of the NFL. In a strike-shorted 1982 season, he made 20 of 21 field-goal attempts for the Washington Redskins.
After teams lost seven regular season games due to a strike after Week 2, the Redskins won six of the remaining seven games. Moseley strengthened his case for MVP as the difference maker in four games that season that were won by five or fewer points. Moseley was awarded the honors instead of his teammate Joe Theismann, who completed 63.9% of his passes and threw for 2,033 yards.
In Super Bowl XVII, Moseley was called on to close the deficit on the Dolphins twice and hit a 31-yard and 20-yard field goal in the second and third quarter, respectively. He also converted all three of his extra points as the Redskins won 27–17.
Lawrence Taylor, 1986 MVP and Super Bowl XXI champion
Taylor became the first defensive player to win MVP honors since since Alan Page of the Minnesota Vikings won in 1971. Taylor recorded 20.5 sacks for the Giants that season.
Before the game, analysts wondered whether Taylor would be able to run through the Denver Broncos’ offensive line to hurry or sack John Elway. The Broncos managed to contain Taylor to just one sack of Elway for a loss of one yard, but Carl Banks broke out for 14 tackles as the Giants won 39–20.
Joe Montana, 1989 MVP and Super Bowl XXIV champion
Montana was named the 1989 MVP after recording what was then the highest ever passer rating (112.4). Looking to lead the 49ers to a second straight Super Bowl win, Montana threw for 3,521 yards, 26 touchdowns and just eight interceptions while adding 227 yards and three more touchdowns on the ground. San Francisco finished the regular season 14–2.
The Super Bowl meeting with Elway and the Broncos would be far from one of Montana’s 31 career fourth-quarter comebacks. The 49ers blew out the Broncos 55–10 with Montana completing 22 of 29 passes for a total of 297 yards and a Super Bowl-record five touchdowns. He joined Starr and Bradshaw as players to earn a double of regular season and Super Bowl MVP honors.
Below is a highlight reel of Montana’s plays from Super Bowl XXIV.
Emmitt Smith, 1993 MVP and Super Bowl XXVIII champion
Despite holding out for the first two games of the 1993 season after a contract dispute, Smith finished the season with 1,486 rushing yards and nine touchdowns to win the NFL’s rushing title.
At Super Bowl XXVIII in Atlanta, Smith helped the Cowboys rally from a 13–6 halftime deficit with two touchdowns and 92 yards in the second half of the game. With a 30–13 victory, the Cowboys became just the third team with four Super Bowl victories. Smith finished with 30 carries and 132 yards en route to being named the Super Bowl MVP.
Steve Young, 1994 MVP and Super Bowl XXIX champion
After winning two Super Bowl rings as Joe Montana’s backup, Young became the San Francisco 49ers’ starting quarterback. The 49ers offense pummeled opponents by more than 20 points in seven games and finished with an NFL-best record of 13–3. Young was named the regular season MVP for his 3,969 yards and a then-franchise record 35 touchdowns with just 10 interceptions. His 70.28% completion rate was the highest among all quarterbacks of the 1990s.
In Super Bowl XXIX, Young threw for a record six touchdowns at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami as the 49ers downed the Chargers 49–26. Four of Young’s touchdowns came in the first half (the other two came in the first two drives by the 49ers in the second half), which tied Doug Williams’s four scores in first half of the Redskins’ Super Bowl XXII win.
Brett Favre, 1996 MVP and Super Bowl XXXI champion
Favre became the second back-to-back winner of the Associated Press’s Most Valuable Player Award. The Packers quarterback came into the season after having battled an addiction to painkillers and several personal problems within his family. After throwing 38 touchdown passes in 1995, he threw 39 in 1996 to lead Green Bay to an NFC-leading 13–3 record. He also recorded 3,899 yards and had a 95.8 passer rating, which was second only to Steve Young.
The New England Patriots and Packers traded blows in the first quarter of Super Bowl XXXI before Favre took over and threw an 81-yard touchdown to Antonio Freeman as part of a 17-point run in the second quarter.
New England would draw closer, but a 99-yard kick return TD by Desmond Howard sealed Green Bay’s third Super Bowl victory.
Terrell Davis, 1998 MVP and Super Bowl XXXIII champion
Davis became the fourth player in NFL history to eclipse the 2,000-rushing yard mark and finished the year with 2,008 yards as well as 25 passes caught for 217 yards and 23 total touchdowns.
In Denver’s 34–19 Super Bowl XXXIII victory over the Atlanta Falcons, Davis rushed for 102 yards and caught two passes for 50 yards. It was the seventh straight postseason game in which he rushed for more than 100 yards. He also became just the third player to rush for more than 100 yards in back-to-back Super Bowls (Larry Csonka, Super Bowls VII and VIII; Emmitt Smith, Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII). Elway earned the game’s MVP honors for his 336 yards and the final touchdown on a three-yard quarterback draw with 11 minutes and 20 seconds left that sealed the game for Denver.
Kurt Warner, 1999 MVP and Super Bowl XXXIV champion
Warner helped turn around a 4–12 Rams team from 1998 into the NFC’s top team with a 13–3 record for the team’s first playoff appearance since 1989. Warner attempted just 11 passes in the 1998 season before completing 65.1% of his passes for 4,353 yards, 41 touchdowns and just 13 interceptions in his MVP campaign.
Warner had the help of running back Marshall Faulk, who won the NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award. Faulk rushed for 1,381 yards and seven touchdowns while also catching 87 passes for 1,048 yards.
• Audibles Podcast Special: Oral history of Super Bowl XXXIV’s final seconds
Warner and Faulk struggled to score in the first half of Super bowl XXXIV against the Tennessee Titans but still got out to a 9–0 lead off three field goals. But a 16–0 Titans run beginning in the third quarter ultimately tied the game with just 2:12 left in regulation. Warner then hit Isaac Bruce with a pass at the 38-yard line that quickly turned into a 73-yard score to again give the Rams the lead. It was Warner’s only completion of the fourth quarter.
Warner would watch “The Tackle” from the sidelines as Rams linebacker Mike Jones stopped Titans receiver Kevin Dyson just one yard short of the goal line for the potential game-tying touchdown.
Warner was awarded MVP honors for the game as he finished the day having completed 24 of 45 passes for 414 yards and two touchdowns.