You don't have to win a championship in pro sports to be considered among the greats. Yaz never brought a World Series trophy to Boston. Barry Sanders never cuddled the Lombardi trophy. Was John Stockton mediocre because he played during perhaps the greatest era in NBA history? Even winning one, though, isn't a ticket to stardom. Not even for players who had a major impact on their sport's biggest stage. Super Bowl MVP voting isn't an exact science, of course, but there's no question that winning the award is as good as it gets in American pro sports. The list of Super Bowl MVPs now contains more than three dozen names, some of whom are repeat winners. Some are Hall of Famers. Others you may barely remember.
They may enjoy an off-season full of endorsement opportunities and some recognition from the collectors' market. Maybe some extra autograph deals (and that's a source of income that will never dry up. You need them all if you want that football signed by each and every Super Bowl MVP winner). Long term, though, it doesn't mean their rookie card goes to the top of collectors' want lists or that you'll need a day's pay to buy their signature.
If anything, winning the award cements greatness and drives up prices of those already considered on the cusp of greatness and when it comes to the MVP, voters usually gravitate toward the skill position guys.
Here's a list of players who've won the Super Bowl MVP by position:
Running Back 7
Wide Receiver 6
Defensive End 2
Defensive Tackle 1
Kick Returner-Punt Returner 1
37 of the 46 players who have an MVP trophy from the Super Bowl were strictly mainstream offensive guys (remember there was a tie for the honor in Super Bowl XII).
The guy who saw the most benefit by winning a Super Bowl among that group was, of course, Joe Namath. Before upsetting the Colts in Super Bowl III, Namath was simply a very good AFL quarterback with a lot of girlfriends. Now, his 1965 Topps rookie card runs hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars depending on condition. Terry Bradshaw was a good quarterback on a great team. Winning so many Super Bowl games and back-to-back MVP honors in the game, have definitely kept him in the upper echelon of 1970s star card value. His teammate Lynn Swann was MVP of Super Bowl X. Would there be much interest in his rookie card or autograph if not for his heroics that Sunday afternoon?
Steve Young escaped Joe Montana's shadow and vaulted into the ranks of the 1980s best rookie cards when he crushed it against the Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX.
The only reason Phil Simms and Ottis Anderson rookie cards are mentioned in that same discussion is because of their performances in Super Bowl XXI and XXV. More recently, Eli Manning was able to take the next step in the marketplace because of his performance in shocking the Patriots as Super Bowl XLII MVP.
For others, though, winning the trophy hasn't translated into a lot of value. Jake Scott, Randy White, Doug Williams, Larry Brown, Desmond Howard, Deion Branch, Dexter Jackson and others may have had solid careers, but don't carry a lot of weight in the price guides.
When this year's Super Bowl MVP voting is over, we could see Tom Brady or Manning pick up another one. Brady rookie cards can't go much higher. Eli may take yet another step toward hobby icon. If it's someone else, there will likely be some short term interest, but it's sustained greatness over the long term that will determine whether they make their mark on the market.
Click this link for a list of Super Bowl MVP cards, autographs and memorabilia on eBay and below is a complete list of Super Bowl MVP voting honorees:
Super Bowl MVP list
Super Bowl I — QB Bart Starr, Green Bay
Super Bowl II — QB Bart Starr, Green Bay
Super Bowl III — QB Joe Namath, N.Y. Jets
Super Bowl IV — QB Len Dawson, Kansas City
Super Bowl V — LB Chuck Howley, Dallas
Super Bowl VI — QB Roger Staubach, Dallas
Super Bowl VII — S Jake Scott, Miami
Super Bowl VIII — RB Larry Csonka, Miami
Super Bowl IX — RB Franco Harris, Pittsburgh
Super Bowl X — WR Lynn Swann, Pittsburgh
Super Bowl XI — WR Fred Biletnikoff, Oakland
Super Bowl XII — DT Randy White and
DE Harvey Martin, Dallas
Super Bowl XIII — QB Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh
Super Bowl XIV — QB Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh
Super Bowl XV — QB Jim Plunkett, Oakland
Super Bowl XVI — QB Joe Montana, San Francisco
Super Bowl XVII — RB John Riggins, Washington
Super Bowl XVIII — RB Marcus Allen, L.A. Raiders
Super Bowl XIX — QB Joe Montana, San Francisco
Super Bowl XX — DE Richard Dent, Chicago
Super Bowl XXI — QB Phil Simms, N.Y. Giants
Super Bowl XXII — QB Doug Williams, Washington
Super Bowl XXIII — WR Jerry Rice, San Francisco
Super Bowl XXIV — QB Joe Montana, San Francisco
Super Bowl XXV — RB Ottis Anderson, N.Y. Giants
Super Bowl XXVI — QB Mark Rypien, Washington
Super Bowl XXVII — QB Troy Aikman, Dallas
Super Bowl XXVIII — RB Emmitt Smith, Dallas
Super Bowl XXIX — QB Steve Young, San Francisco
Super Bowl XXX — CB Larry Brown, Dallas
Super Bowl XXXI — KR-PR Desmond Howard, Green Bay
Super Bowl XXXII — RB Terrell Davis, Denver
Super Bowl XXXIII — QB John Elway, Denver
Super Bowl XXXIV — QB Kurt Warner, St. Louis
Super Bowl XXXV — LB Ray Lewis, Baltimore
Super Bowl XXXVI — QB Tom Brady, New England
Super Bowl XXXVII — S Dexter Jackson, Tampa Bay
Super Bowl XXXVIII — QB Tom Brady, New England
Super Bowl XXXIX — WR Deion Branch, New England
Super Bowl XL — WR Hines Ward, Pittsburgh
Super Bowl XLI — QB Peyton Manning, Indianapolis
Super Bowl XLII — QB Eli Manning, N.Y. Giants
Super Bowl XLIII — WR Santonio Holmes, Pittsburgh
Super Bowl XLIV — QB Drew Brees, New Orleans
Super Bowl XLV — QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay
Super Bowl XLVI- QB Eli Manning, N.Y. Giants