The NFL has been around for over a century and the MVP award has been given out to the best player of each season. These players have helped shape the league as we know it today, but which ones come out on top?
The nfl mvp list is a list of the top 10 NFL MVPs of all time.
Because of the enormous popularity of the sport and the legends who have won it since 1957, NFL MVP is at the top of many lists when it comes to the most coveted individual honors in American sports. While the MVP decision process is subjective in nature, we set out to identify 10 of the greatest MVP wins in NFL history using a methodical approach. We chose two winners each decade, based on the player’s regular-season achievements during the decade in which the MVP season took place. Let’s start with an overview of the prize.
After winning Super Bowl 55 on Feb. 7, 2021, Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who has a sizable net worth. | Getty Images/Mike Ehrmann
How is the NFL MVP selected?
Although there are no rules for choosing the NFL MVP, the winner typically leads his team to the playoffs by having the greatest statistical performance at his position. As a result, quarterbacks are more likely than not to win the award, followed by running backs.
The Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player Award is decided by a committee of 50 sportswriters and presented to the victor the night before the Super Bowl. Troy Aikman, Tony Dungy, Herman Edwards, and Chris Collinsworth have all served on the committee in past years.
Sportswriters choose the Super Bowl MVP as well, with 16 of them accounting for 80% of the vote, while fan votes account for the other 20%.
The NFL MVP Award has a long and illustrious history.
Since 1957, a panel of professional sportswriters has voted to identify the greatest individual player throughout the regular season. From 1938 through 1946, the Joe F Carr Trophy was given to the NFL’s most valuable player. The Sporting News and United Press International also gave out MVP honors between 1947 and 1956. The honor was renamed “The Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player Award” in 1957, and it has remained that way ever since.
So, who are the all-time greatest MVPs?
In the 1950s, just two MVPs were chosen. Johnny Unitas once and Jim Brown twice. They also happen to be at the top of our 60s list.
Johnny Unitas and Jim Brown in the 1960s
Any top ten ranking of the best NFL players of all time includes Johnny Unitas. In terms of throwing attempts and yards, “Johnny U” was always at the top. He was the first to use pass-heavy play-calling, and he set a record of at least one touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games, which lasted for more than 50 years. Three times in ten years, Unitas has guided the Colts to the playoffs. He earned the MVP title in 1964 with an overwhelming 80 percent vote share, and he won it again in 1967 with an even larger 85 percent vote share. In 1965, he came in second to #2 on our list.
Jim Brown is also a top ten player, and we think he’s a greater football player than Unitas. Unitas had two MVPs in the 60s, which puts him ahead of him on this ranking. Jim beat Unitas in the 1950s and would have had more if he had stayed in the game for another 3–4 years, but he quit to pursue a career as an actor and then an activist. Jim gained 12,312 yards on the ground, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. With the exception of one year, Brown has led the NFL in running. He’s also the first NFL player to ever average more over 100 yards a game in his career, with a lifetime average of 104.3. His 106 career running touchdowns rank him sixth all-time in the NFL, while his 126 total touchdowns rank him tenth.
In all but one season of his career, Jim Brown was a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro. In the 1960s, Brown led the Browns to two playoff appearances in five years, including a championship victory and a championship loss. Mark him down as a certain top-two pick.
Walter Payton and O.J. Simpson in the 1970s
With 10 seasons of 300+ carries in the NFL, Walter Payton, nicknamed “Sweetness,” was the epitome of a workhorse. Payton finished his career with 16,726 running yards, enough for second in NFL history, and 110 rushing touchdowns, good for sixth all-time. With 125 total touchdowns, he’s tied for 11th place with Jim Brown. Payton was regarded as one of the best running backs of all time, with a reputation for putting in scorching offseason workouts that included steep grades and hurdles that most NFL players would avoid. Payton was a Pro Bowler in every year of the 1970s but one, and he led the Bears to two playoff berths.
The 1970s may be dubbed the “decade of the running back,” since it was the only one in which four different running backs earned MVP honors. One of them was O.J. Simpson, who had the first 2,000-yard season in NFL history in 1973. “The Juice” won four running championships and was named to the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams five times each. Despite Simpson’s individual success, the Bills were never able to put together a strong team around him, and only made one postseason appearance in the 1970s. Simpson beats out fellow Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton on our list because to his constant Hall of Fame statistics and 95 percent MVP voting.
Joe Montana and Dan Marino in the 1980s
In Super Bowl XIX, two of the best quarterbacks of all time competed, and both were MVPs in the 1980s.
Joe Montana is our top MVP of the 1980s, having won six Pro Bowls and two All-Pro awards during that time period. Five times in his career, “Joe Cool” led the league in completion percentage and twice in touchdown passes. Joe’s worth was evident in the box scores, but quarterbacks earn their money in the victory columns. Joe came out on top. In the 1980s, Joe Montana reached the playoffs every year but one. While we aren’t evaluating Joe based on his postseason performance, we can’t help but notice that he won four Super Bowls during that decade. Only Tom Brady’s legacy comes close to matching his.
Dan Marino played in five Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro three times in the 1980s by his peers. From 1984 through 1986, he led the league in completions, yards, and touchdowns, and the Dolphins reached the playoffs each year. Marino led the Dolphins to the Super Bowl in 1985, but they were defeated by Joe Montana. Marino was never seen again. That didn’t stop him from throwing for 61,361 yards, 420 touchdowns, 4,967 completions, and an 86.4 passer rating in his career. Those are Hall of Fame statistics, with throwing yards and touchdowns ranking sixth and seventh, respectively, all-time. Marino beats over Hall of Famer and playoff great John Elway for No. 2 because to a stellar regular-season career in the 1980s.
Steve Young and Brett Favre in the 1990s
Until the NFL became the quarterback-centric league it is now, Steve Young was the most accurate passer in NFL history. With a career TD/Int ratio of 2.17, he outperformed legends Joe Montana and Dan Marino. He won seven straight pro bowls and three All-Pros after taking over from Montana. With the exception of one year, he topped the league in completion %. Young was meticulous, but he also took chances when necessary, leading the league in touchdown passes four times and yards per attempt five times. It’s no surprise that he led the 49ers to the playoffs every year in the 1990s save one.
Brett Favre is the first player in NFL history to win the MVP award three times in a row. Each MVP season was a highlight, with the gun-slinging Favre averaging a 3:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He was the league’s leading passer in touchdown passes all three years, and he was also the league’s leading passer in passing yards in 1995 and 1997. In the 1990s, Favre led the Packers to the playoffs six times out of eight times. Favre dominated the NFC in the 1990s as a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro.
Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the 2000s
*Spoiler alert* Number one will appear twice on our list. In 2001, Tom Brady was named the Patriots’ starting quarterback, and the rest is history. He was named to the Pro Bowl five times in the following nine years, twice leading the league in touchdown passes and yards. He received a 98 percent vote for MVP in 2007 after setting a new touchdown record with 50 and leading the league in passing yards and completion percentage. From 2001 through 2009, Brady led the Patriots to the playoffs seven times out of eight, winning three Super Bowls. That run alone would have cemented his place among the best three quarterbacks of all time.
During the 2000s, Peyton Manning outperformed Tom Brady in the regular season. During that decade, Manning earned four MVP awards. From 2000 through 2009, the future Hall of Famer appeared in the Pro Bowl every year except one, and was a five-time All-Pro. Among terms of touchdown passes, passing yards, completion %, and quarterback rating, he was regularly in the top three in the league. Most significantly, Manning guided the Colts to the playoffs nine times in a row and to their first-ever Super Bowl victory.
Manning and Brady had one of the greatest quarterback rivalries in history, meeting 17 times in total and five times in the playoffs. Manning won the matches 3-2, despite Brady’s superior performance.
Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers in the 2010s
He’s back and is winning rings and MVP honors, but he doesn’t appreciate being referred to as the “Greatest of All Time.” Brady matured gracefully during the decade, winning two additional MVP awards. He was 33 years old before the 2010 season began, and he celebrated by leading the league in passing touchdowns and achieving an unheard-of 9:1 T.D./Int ratio. In this decade, Brady’s efficiency became a trend. Even though he finished at the top of the league in passing attempts, he proved very difficult to pick off or sack. Brady didn’t miss a single postseason game in the ’10s, and he added three more Super Bowl titles to his collection.
In the 2010s, Aaron Rodgers equaled Tom Brady’s two MVP titles and guided the Packers to eight out of nine playoff berths. With a TD:INT ratio of nearly 4:1, Rodgers is one of the most efficient quarterbacks in NFL history. His 103.9 passer rating beats Brady’s 97.3, and his 65.1 percent completion rate ranks him 12th all-time. Rodgers was a seven-time Pro Bowler and a two-time All-Pro. When Rodgers departs, he’ll be remembered for possessing one of the game’s strongest arms and precise accuracy. He’s already won one Super Bowl, and with quarterbacks now able to play into their 40s, there’s a chance he’ll win another.
The most egregious NFL MVP omissions of all time
With MVP victories come MVP omissions. In other instances, there are generational players that never get a vote. MVPs are chosen by sportswriters, which leads to arguments that team performance and partiality are more important than individual achievement.
In 1982, a kicker won the NFL MVP award over Hall of Famer Dan Fouts.
You may be surprised to learn that a kicker was named MVP. Yes, absolutely. Mark Moseley of the Washington Redskins was an All-Pro kicker during the strike-shortened 1982 season. He was the Redskins’ top scorer that year, going 20/21 for a league-high 95% field goal percentage, and he hit several important goals. The issue is that Dan Fouts, the quarterback, had an All-Pro year as well. Fouts was on pace to have a typical MVP season, leading the league in passing yards and touchdown passes. He was on track for his fourth straight 4,000-yard season if not for the strike, which was unheard of at the time. This was Fouts’ best opportunity, as he had never won an MVP award before. A snub of historic proportions was electing a kicker over a Hall of Fame quarterback in his prime.
In 1987, Elway won the NFL MVP award over Rice.
The pattern of strike-shortened seasons producing odd MVP outcomes seems to be on the rise. One regular-season game was canceled in 1987, while three games were played with substitute players. Jerry Rice had one of the best wide receiver seasons in NFL history, and he did it in just 12 games. Rice had 22 touchdown receptions and over 1,000 yards receiving. Joe Montana, the guy who threw the ball to him, had an MVP-caliber season. While guiding the 49ers to a 10-win season, Montana led the league with 31 touchdown passes and passed for over 3,000 yards. With the Broncos, John Elway enjoyed an excellent season. He threw for over 3,100 yards and 19 touchdowns while also scoring four times on the ground. This may not have been enough for an MVP victory under normal conditions. Because of their equally outstanding seasons, Rice and Montana were able to steal votes from each other, giving Elway the victory. Two years later, Montana would win back-to-back MVPs, but Rice would never have another chance.
In 2009, Manning won the NFL MVP award over Brees.
Drew Brees has the most passing yards and completions in the NFL, and he is second in touchdown passes. Unfortunately, despite sharing the field with some of the game’s best quarterbacks, he has never earned an MVP award. In 2009, he had one of his finest opportunities when he and Peyton Manning tied on important passing numbers. Manning led Brees on completions and passing yards, while Brees had Manning on touchdowns, completion %, and passer rating. On all of them, they were neck and neck. Perhaps the fact that Manning won another game influenced the votes. Brees had the last laugh that year, as the Saints defeated Manning’s Colts in the Super Bowl.
Who will win the NFL MVP award in 2021?
So, who will be named MVP in 2021? It’s a safe bet that it’ll be a quarterback, since the last time a non-quarterback won the honor was in 2012. Quarterbacks are more important than ever before because to league regulations that give them more time in the pocket and safeguard them from harm. Off-season MVP chances suggest that a dependable quarterback in a pass-happy system will win the award once again. Most MVP predictions have Patrick Mahomes at the top, but there are now a dozen quarterbacks with chances of 20:1 or better to win. Baker Mayfield has received the most activity at William Hill Sportsbook, which makes sense given that he’s been healthy throughout his career and the Browns added a lot of talent in the offseason and re-signed Odell Beckham Jr.
When Was the Last Time a QB Didn’t Win the Associated Press NFL MVP Award?
The mvp nfl 2019 is a list of the top 10 NFL MVPs of all time. These players have been selected based on their performance in the league and with their team.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who has the most NFL MVPs of all time?
Who has won multiple NFL MVP?
Tom Brady has won multiple NFL MVP.
Who was the last non QB to win MVP?
The last non QB to win MVP was Tom Brady in 2007.
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