Can You Identify the Past 40 NFL MVPs From an Image?
By: Gavin Thagard
About This Quiz
What are the qualities that make up an NFL MVP? They have to have the statistics, of course, to show they've outplayed the competition. But that doesn't mean every MVP should be awarded based on stats. After all, it takes more than numbers to earn such an honor as being named the league MVP. These players also have to show leadership and the ability to guide their team to wins, especially considering only two MVPs didn't reach the playoffs when they won the award.
The truth is there's no magic formula that can be used to name an MVP. Instead, voters have to watch the games and really find out what each candidate means to their respective team to know if they're MVP worthy. Besides, football is a team game, and individual success can't come at the cost of everyone else who takes the field. If that star running back wants a few more touches to get the ball in the end zone so they can lead the league in rushing touchdowns, they have to do it in the flow of the game and not at the detriment of winning.
Are you ready to identify the players who outshined their peers on their way to winning the MVP? If so, get started and see if you can finish with an MVP level score.
Do you recognize this quarterback who has six championships to go with his three MVPs?
When Tom Brady won his third NFL MVP, he was the oldest player to ever receive the award, earning the MVP at 40 years old. Brady played all 16 games that season and proved that age is just a number by leading the league in passing yards and passing attempts.
Can you identify this quarterback who led his team to the Super Bowl during his MVP season?
During his MVP season in 2016, Matt Ryan set the NFL record for passing yards per attempt. He completed 373 passes during the regular season, averaging 9.3 yards per attempt. He was largely benefited from having Julio Jones, one of the best deep threats in the NFL, on his team.
Have you forgotten this offensive juggernaut who was the orchestrator of the "Greatest Show on Turf"?
For a player who went undrafted in 1994, Kurt Warner proved that determination was the key to success. He didn't actually get a chance to show his skills until 1998 when he was signed by the St. Louis Rams, quickly becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the league by winning two MVPs over the next four years.
Have you forgotten this legendary MVP quarterback who led the San Francisco 49ers to four Super Bowl titles?
Often referred to as "Joe Cool" and "The Comeback Kid," Joe Montana played at his best when the pressure was at its highest. One of his most memorable moments was in Super Bowl XXIII when he led a 92-yard drive at the end of the game to help the San Francisco 49ers overcome the Cincinnati Bengals.
It takes skills to win both the NFL MVP and the Super Bowl MVP in the same season, but that's exactly what which player was able to do?
Emmitt Smith has never been viewed as the most talented running back in NFL history, but that didn't stop him from finishing his career as the all-time rushing yards leader. Much of his success was due to the dominant offensive line that the Dallas Cowboys had throughout the '90s.
Will you be able to name this player whose electric moves on the field helped him earn the MVP?
During his MVP season, Barry Sanders rushed for over 2,000 yards and recorded his personal best 6.1 yards per attempt. Sanders followed up his MVP season with almost 1,500 yards the next year but then decided to retire because the Detroit Lions couldn't put a championship team around him.
Do you recognize this quarterback who completed over 70 percent of his passes during his MVP season?
Steve Young won his first NFL MVP in 1992 when he was still officially the backup quarterback to Joe Montana. At the time, Montana was dealing with an injury that forced him to miss the season. By the time 1993 came around, though, Young became the full-time starter.
He's the only player to win the MVP while playing for the Carolina Panthers. Who is this?
Cam Newton was able to put up points both through the air and on the ground during his MVP season. While he threw 35 touchdown passes, he also carried the ball into the end zone 10 times on the ground.
Select the name of this MVP who is often regarded as the greatest defender of all time?
Lawrence Taylor changed the way linebackers were used in the NFL, as he was as much of a pass-rushing threat as he was a run stopper. Taylor was so good at getting after the quarterback that he finished his career with 132.5 sacks, including 20.5 during his MVP season.
This might be the greatest quarterback to never win a Super Bowl, but he does have an MVP. Who is he?
Though they've since been broken, Dan Marino set multiple passing records on his way to being named the NFL MVP. One of those records was passing yards in a season, where Marino became the first quarterback to throw for over 5,000 yards in a season.
How well do you know this running back who nearly broke the single season rushing record during his MVP season?
In the final game of the season in 2012, Adrian Peterson came nine yards short of breaking the single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards. Had the Minnesota Vikings not needed a field goal to win the game and reach the playoffs, they would have given Peterson the ball to let him break the record.
Identify this quarterback who had to hang his hat on his NFL MVP for nearly a decade before he finally won a Super Bowl?
John Elway was coming off a Super Bowl appearance where he led a comeback during the AFC Championship Game known as "The Drive" when he won his only MVP award in 1987. "The Drive" can be credited with helping Elway win the MVP, considering he won it on what might be considered a down year for the quarterback.
Are you familiar with this quarterback who won the MVP after throwing 38 touchdowns to only five interceptions?
Aaron Rodgers has been a controversial figure in Green Bay, as former teammates have both criticized and praised the veteran quarterback. No matter which side someone takes, there's no doubt that Rodgers is one of the most gifted players to ever step on a football field, evident by his two MVP awards.
This MVP won the award in his first year as a full-time starter for the Kansas City Chiefs. Who is he?
Patrick Mahomes threw for over 5,000 yards during his MVP season, becoming one of only seven players to ever reach this mark. He added 50 passing touchdowns to that, which put him in a class with only Peyton Manning.
Who is this former star and winner of three straight MVPs?
Brett Favre was able to win the only Super Bowl of his career in 1996, which was the same season that he won his second straight MVP award. To win the Super Bowl, Favre had to defeat the New England Patriots, where he threw for 246 yards and two touchdowns.
What's the name of this player who was elected to his final Pro Bowl the same season he won the MVP?
When Rich Gannon won the MVP in 2002, he led the league in both passing attempts and passes completed, finishing the regular season with a 97.3 passer rating. He only finished the season with 26 passing touchdowns, but it was enough to get the top spot in the AFC for the Raiders, giving the team home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
How well do you know this quarterback who averaged 9.2 yards per pass during his MVP season?
Boomer Esiason only completed 57.5 percent of his passes during his MVP season, but he did average 9.2 yards per pass attempt. He finished the season with a 97.4 passer rating, the highest of his career.
Is this running back who could both run the ball and catch passes an MVP you're familiar with?
Marcus Allen led the league in rushing during his MVP season in 1985, but it was really his ability to catch passes that separated him from his contemporaries. That season, Allen caught 67 passes for 555 yards and added three receiving touchdowns to his 11 rushing touchdowns.
Who is this former Hall of Famer who usually played his best football in the postseason?
Terry Bradshaw was never the greatest regular season quarterback, but he did win four Super Bowl titles with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even during his MVP season in 1978, Bradshaw only threw for 182 yards per game with a 56.3 completion percentage, but the Steelers were able to capture a championship that year.
Is this running back who carried the football 370 times during his MVP season a player you're familiar with?
Throughout the 2000s, Shaun Alexander proved he was one of the best running backs of the decade by twice leading the NFL in rushing touchdowns and once in rushing yards. For his accomplishments, including his MVP in 2005, Alexander was added to the 2000s All-Decade Team.
Are you familiar with this legendary running back who spent his entire career with the Chicago Bears, which includes his MVP season?
Walter Payton held several NFL records at the time of his retirement in 1987, though many of those records have been broken. The records he held included rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and all-purpose yards. All three of those are still records for the Chicago Bears, however.
In the middle of winning three straight NFL Offensive Player of the Year awards, which player shown here was also named the league MVP?
Marshall Faulk never carried the football more than 260 times during the height of his career in St. Louis. However, he was a consistent receiving threat for the Rams, catching 81 passes during his MVP season in 2000.
Before a devastating injury ended his career, which player shown here won the MVP?
The season before being named the league MVP, Joe Theismann led the Washington Redskins to a Super Bowl victory over the Miami Dolphins. During the game, Theismann only threw for 143 yards, but he did throw two touchdown passes, as the Redskins won 27-17.
If a player leads the league in rushing yards and touchdowns, it should result in an MVP like it did for which rusher depicted in this image?
When LaDainian Tomlinson won the NFL MVP in 2006, he set the single-season rushing touchdowns record with 28 touchdowns. He added three receiving touchdowns and two passing touchdowns to this total to finish the season with 33 total touchdowns.
In his first year as the official starter, which quarterback depicted here won the MVP?
The 1974 season was one of the few seasons where Ken Stabler threw more touchdown passes than interceptions, finishing the season with 26 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions. For his career, though, Stabler threw 194 touchdowns and 222 interceptions.
Can you identify this running back whose MVP season was the last year he was able to stay healthy?
Following his MVP season in 1998 in which he also won the Super Bowl, Terrell Davis tore his ACL and MCL, forcing him to miss most of the 1999 season. After playing in only 13 games between the 2000 and 2001 seasons, Davis decided to retire from professional football.
Have you been keeping up with football long enough to name this MVP who had his No. 10 retired by the Minnesota Vikings?
Norm Van Brocklin
Fran Tarkenton was a veteran quarterback who was in his second stint with the Minnesota Vikings when he was named the MVP in 1975. That season, he led the Vikings to a 12-2 record, the best in the NFC. However, his accomplishments were dashed when the Vikings lost in the Divisional Round to the Dallas Cowboys.
This player had to share the MVP with another quarterback in this quiz. Who is he?
In the 1999 season, Steve McNair led the Tennessee Titans to Super Bowl XXXIV. That team went up against the St. Louis Rams, coming one yard short of potentially tying the game with a two-point conversion. It was McNair's only Super Bowl appearance.
Are you able to name this balanced offensive talent who put up over 2,000 all-purpose yards on his way to winning the MVP?
Despite his individual success, Thurman Thomas had to play for the cursed Buffalo Bills team that went to four straight Super Bowls but lost every one of them. He won his MVP during the team's second Super Bowl run, where they lost to the Washington Redskins in the championship game.
Name this quarterback who won the MVP the same season he was named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year?
In 1981, the year he won the NFL MVP, Ken Anderson led the league in passer rating for the third time in his NFL career. It was also Anderson's personal best passer rating at 98.4. He led the league once more in that category the following season before his stats started to decline.
He was never one to shy away from contact. Few running backs had as physical a running style as which MVP shown here?
Earl Campbell came into the NFL ready to punish defenders, earning both the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year during his inaugural season. He followed that up with the NFL MVP his second season along with another NFL Offensive Player of the Year award.
Can you recall the name of this MVP who was the first running back to eclipse the 2,000 yard mark?
During his MVP season, O.J. Simpson led the league in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. He even set an NFL record for most rushing yards per game with 143.1 yards per game. Had the NFL played 16 games like they play today, Simpson would probably still hold the single-season rushing record.
What's the name of this MVP who won the award playing for the Washington Redskins?
Larry Brown played eight seasons in the NFL, all with the Washington Redskins. Starting in his rookie year, Brown was named to four straight Pro Bowls, culminating in his 1972 MVP season, where he rushed for 1,216 yards.
How well do you know this quarterback whose 102.5 passer rating during his MVP campaign was one of the highest of the '70s?
Throwing for 3,104 yards and 24 touchdowns, Bert Jones made the only Pro Bowl of his career during his MVP season in 1976. He was also named to the First-team All-Pro for the only time in his NFL career.
Do you recognize this player who helped the Cleveland Browns reach the playoffs for the first time in eight years during his MVP season?
Brian Sipe's 1980 season was the only time in his career that he was able to complete over 60 percent of his passes. He also finished the season with the most passing yards and passing touchdowns of his NFL career.
Can you identify this player who was the only special teams player to ever win the NFL MVP during the Super Bowl era?
Mark Moseley won the MVP during a shortened season in 1982 after making 20 of his 21 field goals on the season. In total, Moseley scored 76 points to help the Washington Redskins secure a spot in the playoffs.
Who is the first defensive player to be named the NFL MVP?
A member of the defensive unit known as the "Purple People Eaters," Alan Page was almost unblockable during his prime, including his MVP season in 1971. Page proved his worth by being the aggressor who went after ball carriers rather than wait for them to come to him.
Do you recognize this quarterback who was named to the NFL First-team All-Pro during his MVP season?
Before joining the NFL, Roman Gabriel played college football at NC State, where he was twice named ACC Player of the Year. After a successful career in college, he became the second pick in the 1962 NFL Draft.