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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Tom Brady and the MVP curse

Por Fidel Orihuela

In 1966, Bart Starr, the Green Bay Packers’ quarterback, achieved the MVP in the regular season of the NFL and then won the first edition of the Super Bowl with his team. However, this has not been a tendency in the last 50 years of the American football. Only in ten occasions the most prominent athlete has gotten afterwards the Vince Lombardi Award.

The most curious thing is that since 1999 no MVP has made it to the first place of the podium the same season. It means that the curse for these players is now almost 20 years old. The last one to get both was Kurt Warner, quarterback of the Saint Louis Rams. He got the MVP Award in the season that started in 1999 and then, on January 30, 2000, he won the Super Bowl against the Tennessee Titans. Nevertheless, Warner would suffer the curse two years after his triumph, when he was chosen MVP again but then lost against the New England Patriots in the fight for the NFL crown.

The jinx casts its evil spell mostly on the quarterbacks. They have enjoyed seasons to dream of to finally lose it all at the most important game of the year. In fact, 14 of them have won the MVP and have lost the Super Bowl, like the distinguished Dan Marino (Miami Dolphins), John Elway (Denver Broncos), Thurman Thomas (Buffalo Bills) or Brett Favre (Green Bay Packers), all of them in the NFL hall of fame. Recently, it has been even worse for the brains of the teams. Neither Payton Manning (2013-Denver Broncos), Cam Newton (2015-Carolina Panthers), nor Matt Ryan (2017-Atlanta Falcons), won the Super Bowl after having very good seasons.

Last of the list is Tom Brady, whom most of the media have as last season’s MVP. The historical number 12 of the Patriots failed in his mission to win the Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles, although it is valid to say that he did reach the expectations in last Sunday’s game. Brady achieved the third largest amount of yards of the first half of the Super Bowl in the history of the NFL, only surpassed by Doug Williams (306 in 1998) and Kurt Warner (277 in 2000). Besides, Brady is the only quarterback that has exceeded twice the 400 passing yards before the last quarter and his connection with Rob Gronkowski made it to 12 touchdowns in the history of the postseason, being the leader in that category with a tie with Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. Unfortunately, this was not enough for Brady to dodge the MVP curse, one that has proven to be very powerful because no quarterback in the history of the NFL had lost a game after accomplishing more than 500 passing yards and three touchdown passes without interceptions.