On the eve of Super Bowl LV, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will almost certainly be named NFL MVP.
That’s despite the fact the Packers will NOT be participating in said Super Bowl, which means the league’s Most Valuable Player will fail to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy in that season for the 21st consecutive year.
What makes that particularly amazing is that, prior to the turn of the century, MVPs won Super Bowls with extreme frequency.
Kurt Warner was the last MVP to win a Super Bowl when he did so with the 1999 St. Louis Rams, Terrell Davis was a Super Bowl winner and an MVP in 1998, Brett Favre accomplished that feat in 1996, Steve Young did so in 1994, and Emmitt Smith did so in 1993.
That’s five times in seven years, and then nothing for 21 consecutive seasons.
Altogether, 11 of the first 34 Super Bowls were won by teams led by that year’s MVP. Zero of the last 21 have been won by teams led by that year’s MVP.
During that 21-year run, MVPs have made and lost the Super Bowl on nine occasions:
2002: Rich Gannon
2005: Shaun Alexander
2007: Tom Brady
2009: Peyton Manning
2013: Manning again
2015: Cam Newton
2016: Matt Ryan
2017: Tom Brady
On 12 more occasions, MVPs made the playoffs but fell short of the Super Bowl:
2000: Marshall Faulk
2003: Manning and Steve McNair
2004: Manning again
2006: LaDainian Tomlinson
2008: Manning again
2012: Adrian Peterson
2014: Rodgers again
2018: Patrick Mahomes
2019: Lamar Jackson
2020: Presumably Rodgers again
Rodgers will become the first-ever three-time MVP to fail to make the Super Bowl in all three of his MVP campaigns. In fact, none of the league’s eight other multi-MVP winners have failed to make the championship in all of their MVP seasons.
There’s no way to know for sure where this curse came from, but it seems we can blame it on the “Greatest Show on Turf” Rams. After all, the last run ended with Warner and the ’99 Rams, and the current slump began when the Rams failed to get back to the Super Bowl with Faulk as the MVP in 2000.