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The 3 Worst MVP Winners in NFL History


The Associated Press began handing out the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award in 1957. While there have been some great players with great seasons that have won the award, others weren’t so lucky. This is a list of the three worst MVP winners in NFL history.

1982: Mark Moseley Over Dan Fouts

During the strike-shortened 9-game 1982 NFL season, the writers didn’t have much to go on when deciding who the MVP should be, so they chose a kicker. Moseley was a great kicker, hitting 20-of-21 field goals for a Washington team that would win the Super Bowl that year, but Fouts deserved the trophy.

In nine games, Fouts topped 2,800 yards passing and threw 17 touchdowns, leading the Chargers to a 6-3 record. Fouts would be named an All-Pro and a Pro-Bowler, but he was robbed of an MVP award. 

1987: John Elway Over Jerry Rice

During the strike-shortened 1987 season, Rice was unlike anything we had seen before. In 12 games, Rice had more than 1,000 receive yards and 22 touchdown catches. He also added a rushing touchdown for good measure. When Randy Moss broke the record for most touchdown catches in a season with 23 in 2007, he had four extra games to accomplish the feat. Rice did it in 12 games.

© Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

In fairness to Elway, the Broncos would have been irrelevant without him. Rice was playing with Joe Montana, Roger Craig and Dwight Clark. Elway managed to get Denver to the Super Bowl that year, but he only put up good numbers, not transcendent numbers. Rice was the most valuable player in the league in 1987, and it wasn't particularly close. 

1990: Joe Montana Over Randall Cunningham

This was one of the most famous MVP battles in history. The quarterback on the best team very often at least gets serious consideration for the MVP. Montana no doubt had a good season, but this was hardly one of his best. He had 26 touchdowns, but that was only good for third in the league. He had 16 interceptions, which was his career-high. Meanwhile, Cunningham had more than 3,400 yards, 30 touchdowns and just 13 interceptions.

While the Eagles' defense was legendary under Buddy Ryan, the offense was making the best of what it had. The top receivers were Keith Byars, rookie Fred Barnett, Keith Jackson and rookie Calvin Williams. What pushed Cunningham over the top was his rushing ability. He finished the season with 942 rushing yards and a league-leading 8 yards per attempt. He was a weapon unlike any contender had ever seen.

He deserved to be the MVP, especially since this wasn't even one of Montana's best seasons. Montana received much of what Peyton Manning enjoyed in the 2000s in that he was almost the default choice as the MVP.


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