By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
MINNEAPOLIS (CBS) — No 40-year-old quarterback has ever had the type of season that Tom Brady had. With exactly one day remaining in the NFL season, Brady has one more “first” to accomplish.
After being named MVP of the NFL on Saturday night, Brady earned a distinct honor. But he also now has to hope to avoid joining an ignominious list.
Last year, Matt Ryan won the MVP. He lost the Super Bowl.
The year before, Cam Newton won the MVP. He lost the Super Bowl.
In 2013, Peyton Manning won his record fifth MVP. He lost the Super Bowl.
Back in 2007, Brady himself won the MVP … and lost the Super Bowl.
In 2005, running back Shaun Alexander won the MVP, and lost the Super Bowl.
In 2002, Rich Gannon won the MVP, and, you guessed it, lost the Super Bowl.
The year before that? Kurt Warner. MVP. Super Bowl loser.
In order to find an NFL MVP who also won the Super Bowl, you have to go all the way back to 1999, when Warner won the award the same year his Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV.
In the 17 seasons since, 11 different men have won the award, and none have won the Super Bowl.
It may seem like a random occurrence, but it is perhaps indicative of a team relying too much on one player. Such teams may end up being susceptible to losing at critical points if an opponent really spends most of its energy stopping that one star. Look at what the Patriots did in 2001 to Warner (MVP in ’99 and ’01) and Marshall Faulk (MVP in 2000). The defensive game plan focused on attacking those two players. It worked.
Or maybe it really is random. Ryan kind of should have won last year’s Super Bowl, but his offensive coordinator liked to accentuate easy victories with unnecessary five-step drops. Manning ran into a historically great defense in 2013. Gannon was in a similar situation. Newton, too.
In 2003, Manning and Steve McNair tied in the voting, so they shared the award. Both players ran into the buzzsaw that was Bill Belichick’s defense in Foxboro in the playoffs. In 2006, LaDainian Tomlinson should have picked up a divisional round win over the Patriots, but Marlon McCree has a really poor understanding of situational football. The ’07 Brady had to watch the helmet catch. And on and on.
In any event, Brady has spent the past four years reinventing himself as a player and doing what nobody has ever done before: get better in his late 30s. He’s succeeded spectacularly. He already recorded the best season ever for a 39-year-old quarterback, and he just finished arguably the best season ever for a 40-year-old quarterback.
He’s not done, either. For several years now, he’s continued to say he wants to play into his mid-40s. He’s also said that he doesn’t plan on playing if he’s not an excellent player. He’s looking to maintain an MVP level well beyond the time that nearly every single quarterback in history retires.
He’s looking to be the lone exception, the rarest of the rare. And so if there’s anybody to break this MVP curse in a Super Bowl, Brady would figure to be the safest of bets.