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NFL MVPs by season

INTRODUCTION

In NFL, the MVP (Most Valuable Player) is considered to be the best player of the season. The award has been given by the Associated Press since 1957.

Charts

1. NFL MVPs by Position

2. NFL MVPs by Region of Birth

3. NFL MVPs by Height, Position and Race

4. NFL MVPs by Team and Position

5. NFL MVPs by State of Birth

Table.

6. NFL MVPs by Position, Place of Birth, Height and Racial Group

The regional distribution of origin and most common state of birth of the best players shows how widespread and seriously the sport is played in a particular place since a greater talent pool tends to produce more great players in any sport. The distribution of the award by position shows the importance of each position to a team. In some sports, the strategy of a team revolves around a player in a certain key position. In American football, the quarterback position is such a position. Distribution by race shows both the cultural tendency to play the sport at an early age but also the tendency to play and opportunities to develop in the key quarterback position. 

The overwhelming majority of NFL MVPs have been won by Quarterbacks and Running Backs. Quarterbacks have unsurprisingly dominated the NFL MVP awards, taking 68.5% of MVPs. It's the key position in American football and the performance of the Quarterback is usually decisive in the outcome of a game. The great Quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady were key to the success of their teams. However in the early days of NFL, Running Backs were recipients of most MVPs. 4 of the first 6 MVPs were won by Running Backs, two of these by Jim Brown (who won a total of 3). Despite being surpassed by Quarterbacks in MVPs, Running Backs have remained a strong second with 26.9% of total MVPs.

Jim Brown, a running back from Georgia, was the first winner of the MVP in 1957 and won 3 times in total. He remains the only non-quarterback to have won the award multiple times. 

Photo by Kahn's Weiners

Players born in the south have been recipients of 50% of NFL MVPs. This reflects the strong tradition of American Football in the south. The origin of southern domination of American football traces back to after the American civil war when the south sought to dominate football to make up for it's loss in the civil war. The southern devotion to college football reflects in it's propensity to produce great players in the NFL. The player with the most MVPs of all time was Peyton Manning who was a quarterback from New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Peyton Manning has won the MVP 5 times, more than any other player. He was from New Orleans, Louisiana. Like most MVPs, he played in the quarterback position. 

Photo by Mike Morbeck

Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Johnny Unitas was MVP 3 times. He was the first quarterback to receive the award. 

Photo by Malcolm W. Emmons 

There used to be less of a distinction between heights of MVPs who were quarterbacks and running backs. Over time, a distinct difference has emerged where quarterbacks tend to be taller than running backs among MVP winners.

White players have received the majority of MVPs. This remains true in recent years even though the majority of players in the NFL are black. The reason for this is that the quarterback position has been historically dominated by white players. The majority of black NFL MVPs have been running backs, the most famous being Jim Brown of the Cleveland Browns who was MVP 3 times. In recent years, black players have become more represented among Quarterbacks. This will likely result in an increasing number of black MVPs in coming years and decades.

The Greenbay Packers have won the most MVPs. Despite being well represented in the 1960s with 3 MVPs, it wasn't until 1995 when they won their 4th. Since then, they have been consistently well represented. The San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Colts are in joint second. The Baltimore Colts became the Indianapolis Colts in 1983. If you add MVPs won by the team under different names, they have a total of 8.5 MVPs which is more than the Greenbay packers.

Note: Where two players shared the MVP for the season, each is given 0.5 for the chart.

Brett Favre was the MVP 3 years in a row with the Greenbay Packers, sharing the 3rd one with Barry Sanders. 

Photo by Paul Cutler

Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

10 states have produced more than one different MVP. California has produced the most although it is by far the largest state so that is to be expected. New York and Florida are notably absent from this group despite being one of the largest states by population. On a per capita basis, Pennsylvania seems to be the most successful of the major states. Louisiana and Mississippi are also notable given their below average population sizes among states. 

Tom Brady has been the MVP 3 times. He was also Super Bowl MVP 4 times, the most of any player. He is one of 7 players from California to have won the award. 

Photo by Brian Allen for Voice of America

6. NFL MVPs by Position, Place of Birth, Height and Racial Group
Year
Player
Team
Position
City/town of birth
State of birth
Racial/Ethnic Group
Height
1957
Jim Brown
Cleveland Browns
Running back
St. Simons
Georgia
Black/African
6'2
1958
Jim Brown (2)
Cleveland Browns
Running back
St. Simons
Georgia
Black/African
6'2
1959
Johnny Unitas
Baltimore Colts
Quarterback
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
White/European
6'1
1960
Norm Van Brocklin
Philadelphia Eagles
Quarterback
Parade
South Dakota
White/European
6'1
1961
Paul Hornung
Green Bay Packers
Running back
Louisville
Kentucky
White/European
6'2
1962
Jim Taylor
Green Bay Packers
Running back
Baton Rouge
Louisiana
White/European
6'0
1963
Y. A. Tittle
New York Giants
Quarterback
Marshall
Texas
White/European
6'0
1964
Johnny Unitas (2)
Baltimore Colts
Quarterback
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
White/European
6'1
1965
Jim Brown (3)
Cleveland Browns
Running back
St. Simons
Georgia
Black/African
6'2
1966
Bart Starr
Green Bay Packers
Quarterback
Montgomery
Alabama
White/European
6'1
1967
Johnny Unitas (3)
Baltimore Colts
Quarterback
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
White/European
6'1
1968
Earl Morrall
Baltimore Colts
Quarterback
Muskegon
Michigan
White/European
6'1
1969
Roman Gabriel
Los Angeles Rams
Quarterback
Wilmington
North Carolina
Eurasian
6'5
1970
John Brodie
San Francisco 49ers
Quarterback
Menlo Park
California
White/European
6'1
1971
Alan Page
Minnesota Vikings
Defensive tackle
Canton
Ohio
Black/African
null
1972
Larry Brown
Washington Redskins
Running back
Clairton
Pennsylvania
Black/African
5'11
1973
O. J. Simpson
Buffalo Bills
Running back
San Francisco
California
Black/African
6'1
1974
Ken Stabler
Oakland Raiders
Quarterback
Foley
Alabama
White/European
6'3
1975
Fran Tarkenton
Minnesota Vikings
Quarterback
Richmond
Virginia
White/European
6'0
1976
Bert Jones
Baltimore Colts
Quarterback
Ruston
Louisiana
White/European
6'3
1977
Walter Payton
Chicago Bears
Running back
Columbia
Mississippi
Black/African
5'10
1978
Terry Bradshaw
Pittsburgh Steelers
Quarterback
Shreveport
Louisiana
White/European
6'3
1979
Earl Campbell
Houston Oilers
Running back
Tyler
Texas
Black/African
5'11
1980
Brian Sipe
Cleveland Browns
Quarterback
San Diego
California
White/European
6'1
1981
Ken Anderson
Cincinnati Bengals
Quarterback
Batavia
Illinois
White/European
6'2
1982
Mark Moseley
Washington Redskins
Placekicker
Laneville
Texas
White/European
5'11
1983
Joe Theismann
Washington Redskins
Quarterback
New Brunswick
New Jersey
White/European
6'0
1984
Dan Marino
Miami Dolphins
Quarterback
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
White/European
6'4
1985
Marcus Allen
Los Angeles Raiders
Running back
San Diego
California
Black/African
6'2
1986
Lawrence Taylor
New York Giants
Linebacker
Williamsburg
Virginia
Black/African
6'3
1987
John Elway
Denver Broncos
Quarterback
Port Angeles
Washington
White/European
6'3
1988
Boomer Esiason
Cincinnati Bengals
Quarterback
East Islip
New York
White/European
6'5
1989
Joe Montana
San Francisco 49ers
Quarterback
New Eagle
Pennsylvania
White/European
6'2
1990
Joe Montana (2)
San Francisco 49ers
Quarterback
New Eagle
Pennsylvania
White/European
6'2
1991
Thurman Thomas
Buffalo Bills
Running back
Houston
Texas
Black/African
5'10
1992
Steve Young
San Francisco 49ers
Quarterback
Salt Lake City
Utah
White/European
6'2
1993
Emmitt Smith
Dallas Cowboys
Running back
Pensacola
Flordia
Black/African
5'09
1994
Steve Young (2)
San Francisco 49ers
Quarterback
Salt Lake City
Utah
White/European
6'2
1995
Brett Favre
Green Bay Packers
Quarterback
Gulfport
Mississippi
White/European
6'2
1996
Brett Favre (2)
Green Bay Packers
Quarterback
Gulfport
Mississippi
White/European
6'2
1997
Brett Favre (3) Barry Sanders
Green Bay Packers Detroit Lions
Quarterback Running back
null
null
null
null
1998
Terrell Davis
Denver Broncos
Running back
San Diego
California
Black/African
5'11
1999
Kurt Warner
St. Louis Rams
Quarterback
Burlington
Iowa
White/European
6'2
2000
Marshall Faulk
St. Louis Rams
Running back
New Orleans
Louisiana
Black/African
5'10
2001
Kurt Warner (2)
St. Louis Rams
Quarterback
Burlington
Iowa
White/European
6'2
2002
Rich Gannon
Oakland Raiders
Quarterback
Philadelphia
Pennsylvania
White/European
6'3
2003
Peyton Manning Steve McNair
Indianapolis Colts Tennessee Titans
Quarterback Quarterback
null
null
null
null
2004
Peyton Manning (2)
Indianapolis Colts
Quarterback
New Orleans
Louisiana
White/European
6'5
2005
Shaun Alexander
Seattle Seahawks
Running back
Florence
Kentucky
Black/African
5'11
2006
LaDainian Tomlinson
San Diego Chargers
Running back
Rosebud
Texas
Black/African
5'10
2007
Tom Brady
New England Patriots
Quarterback
San Mateo
California
White/European
6'4
2008
Peyton Manning (3)
Indianapolis Colts
Quarterback
New Orleans
Louisiana
White/European
6'5
2009
Peyton Manning (4)
Indianapolis Colts
Quarterback
New Orleans
Louisiana
White/European
6'5
2010
Tom Brady (2)
New England Patriots
Quarterback
San Mateo
California
White/European
6'4
2011
Aaron Rodgers
Green Bay Packers
Quarterback
Chico
California
White/European
6'2
2012
Adrian Peterson
Minnesota Vikings
Running back
Palestine
Texas
Black/African
6'1
2013
Peyton Manning (5)
Denver Broncos
Quarterback
New Orleans
Louisiana
White/European
6'5
2014
Aaron Rodgers (2)
Green Bay Packers
Quarterback
Chico
California
White/European
6'2
2015
Cam Newton
Carolina Panthers
Quarterback
Atlanta
Georgia
Black/African
6'5
2016
Matt Ryan
Atlanta Falcons
Quarterback
Exton
Pennsylvania
White/European
6'4
2017
Tom Brady (3)
New England Patriots
Quarterback
San Mateo
California
White/European
6'4
2018
Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs
Quarterback
Tyler
Texas
Mulatto
6'3
2019
Lamar Jackson
Baltimore Ravens
Quarterback
Pompano Beach
Florida
Black/African
6'2
2020
Aaron Rodgers (3)
Greenbay Packers
Quarterback
Chico
California
White/European
6'2
2021
Aaron Rodgers (4)
Greenbay Packers
Quarterback
Chico
California
White/European
6'2
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