NFL football MVP

In 2018 Patrick Mahomes earned the NFL Most Valuable Player Award at the age of 23, which made him the youngest winner since Dan Marino in 1984 (23). Just a year before Mahomes’ accomplishment, a 40-year-old Tom Brady became the oldest to earn the accolade.

While age may not be as much of a factor in achieving MVP status, a player’s position on the field certainly is.

Below we take a look at the history of the award and a few trends to consider when betting on the MVP winner.

Positional trends

Quarterback Fran Tarkenton earned the first MVP in 1975. Since then a quarterback has been named MVP 33 times, with running back the second-most decorated position at 12 wins.

In the last two decades, the award has been given to a non-QB just four times. Running back Marshall Faulk claimed the honor in 2000 (the year he helped lead the St. Louis Rams to a Super Bowl), Shaun Alexander grabbed the trophy in 2005 during a record-breaking season and LaDainian Tomlinson set the single-season record for rushing touchdowns (28) during his 2006 MVP campaign.

The last time a position other than quarterback earned the MVP came in 2012, when Adrian Peterson received the award after he became the seventh player to break the 2,000-yard rushing mark in one season.

Aside from quarterback and running back, the Associated Press has awarded a defensive tackle (Alan Page, 1971), linebacker (Lawrence Taylor, 1986) and placekicker (Mark Moseley, 1982) once each.

Age trends

If you toss out Brady’s win at 40 and Mahomes’ at 23 as outliers, most of the MVPs from the last decade were in or near their early 30s. Aaron Rodgers won his first at age 28 and repeated at age 31.

Almost every first-time winner since 2008 was in their 20s, including Mahomes, Rodgers, Peterson (27) and Cam Newton (26). The one exception is first-time recipient Matt Ryan, who won the award at 31 in 2016.

Past NFL MVP winners

YearPlayerTeamPositionAge
2008Peyton ManningIndianapolis ColtsQuarterback32
2009Peyton ManningIndianapolis ColtsQuarterback 33
2010Tom BradyNew England PatriotsQuarterback33
2011Aaron RodgersGreen Bay PackersQuarterback28
2012Adrian PetersonMinnesota VikingsRunning back27
2013Peyton ManningDenver BroncosQuarterback37
2014Aaron RodgersGreen Bay PackersQuarterback 31
2015Cam NewtonCarolina PanthersQuarterback26
2016Matt RyanAtlanta FalconsQuarterback 31
2017Tom BradyNew England PatriotsQuarterback40
2018Patrick MahomesKansas City ChiefsQuarterback23

Conference and divisional trends

Since 2000 the MVP winner has come from the AFC 12 times, compared to eight from the NFC.

Breaking it down further by division, no player from the AFC North or NFC East has won the award since 2000. In that time frame each team from the AFC West has produced an MVP winner, whereas the AFC East has been home to the MVP winner three times, but only one player won those MVPsBrady.

Here is a breakdown of each MVP winner and their division from 2000-2019.

NFL MVP winners by division

DivisionNumber of MVP winners since 2000Teams with MVP winners since 2000Players
AFC South52Tennessee Titans: Steve McNair, 2003
Indianapolis Colts: Peyton Manning, 2008-09 and 2008-09
AFC West44Oakland Raiders: Rich Gannon, 2002
San Diego Chargers: LaDainian Tomlinson, 2006
Denver Broncos: Peyton Manning, 2013
Kansas City Chiefs: Pat Mahomes, 2018
AFC East31New England Patriots: Tom Brady, 2007, 2010, 2017
NFC West32St. Louis Rams: Marshall Faulk 2000 and Kurt Warner 2001
Seattle Seahawks: Shaun Alexander 2005
NFC North32Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers, 2011 and 2014
Minnesota Vikings: Adrian Peterson, 2012
NFC South22Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, 2015
Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan, 2016
NFC East00N/A
AFC North00N/A

Repeat Winner

Dating back to 2008, the MVP has been awarded to a first-time winner just five times. Peyton Manning claimed his third MVP in 2008 and his fourth in 2009, then racked up his fifth in 2013 with a new team, the Denver Broncos.

Manning owns the record for most MVP Awards and is the only player to collect the trophy for two different teams. Brady is tied with Brett Favre for the second-most MVPs (three). Brady took home his second MVP in 2010 and his third in 2017.

Rodgers is the other repeat winner of the last decade. He claimed his first MVP in 2011 and his second in 2014.

Back-to-back winners

While it’s not uncommon to win multiple MVPs, earning enough votes to secure the award in consecutive years is rare. Only four players have achieved the feat, starting with running back Earl Campbell of the Houston Oilers, who won the award in 1977 and 1978. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana was next to do it in 1989 and 1990, and Favre won three in a row, in 1995, 1996 and 1997 (as co-MVP with Barry Sanders).

Manning is the last to win back to back, and he managed to do it twice. The quarterback took home trophies in 2003 and 2004, then again in 2008 and 2009.


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