By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — It’s a bit illogical for the most valuable player in the NFL to have such a difficult time winning Super Bowls. Alas, the gift of greatness has been an onerous burden for quite some time.
And it appears as though the curse of winning the NFL MVP Award will live on for another year.
While we don’t know that Aaron Rodgers will take home the hardware as the NFL MVP this year, all signs are pointing that way. He didn’t have the volume stats of Tom Brady, and he missed a game due to COVID, but Rodgers’ 37 touchdowns and seven interceptions to go with a 13-3 record will seemingly be enough for him to win the award for the fourth time of his career. (Rodgers received 32 of 36 votes in a test poll, which likely provides a good representation of what to expect from the actual vote itself.)
Unfortunately for Rodgers, it will also mark the fourth time that he’s won the award in a year that did not end with a Super Bowl parade.
In that struggle, though, he’s far from alone.
A player has not won the MVP Award and a Super Bowl since Kurt Warner did it 22 years ago in 1999 with the Rams. Warner’s teammate, Marshall Faulk, won the award in 2000, when the Rams lost their lone playoff game. Warner won the award again in 2001 but famously lost in Super Bowl XXXVI against the Patriots.
With those Rams, a curse was born.
Rich Gannon was MVP in 2002; he and the Raiders got blown out in Super Bowl XXXVII.
Steve McNair and Peyton Manning shared the award in 2003; both lost in the AFC playoffs in New England.
Manning won again in 2004; he lost in the playoffs again in New England.
In 2005, Shaun Alexander won the award, and his Seahawks made it to Super Bowl XL … where they lost to the Steelers.
LaDainian Tomlinson made it back-to-back winners for running backs when he took home the trophy in 2006. He met a common fate, though, with his Chargers losing in the divisional round to the Patriots.
In 2007, Brady finally got a taste of the MVP curse, setting an NFL record with 50 touchdowns but losing in heartbreaking fashion to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII.
Manning won in back-to-back years in 2008 and 2009; the ’08 Colts lost on Wild Card Weekend, while the ’09 Colts lost to the Saints in the Super Bowl.
In 2010, Brady won the award and then promptly suffered his second straight playoff one-and-done.
Rodgers won the award in 2011 but lost his lone playoff game to the Giants.
Adrian Peterson won the award in 2012, but his Vikings lost their only playoff game to the Packers.
Manning took home the award one last time in 2013, when he threw 55 touchdowns. But his Broncos were blown out by the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII.
Rodgers won in 2014, but like Manning, his Packers also lost to the Legion of Boom era Seahawks in the playoffs.
Cam Newton won in 2015 but lost the Super Bowl to the Broncos. Matt Ryan won the award in 2016 but lost the Super Bowl to the Patriots. Brady won the award in 2017 but lost the Super Bowl to the Eagles. The NFL MVP curse was particularly cruel for that three-year stretch.
Patrick Mahomes won his first MVP in 2018 but lost in the AFC title game to Brady and the Pats. Lamar Jackson took home the award in 2019 but his Ravens lost their lone playoff game. And Rodgers won the award last year, but his Packers lost the NFC title game to Brady and the Buccaneers.
(If you were keeping track, an NFL MVP has made it to the Super Bowl and lost nine times since 2001. Ouch.)
That is a lot of losing for the NFL’s MVPs. And if the voting did go as expected this year (we’ll find out for sure on Feb. 10), then it just continued for another year.
Let that be a lesson to all football players out there: You should definitely try to be good … but not too good. Being too good ensures nothing but heartache.