It was a rare sight to see Malcolm Smith pick up the Super Bowl MVP, a rare occurrence for a defensive player. No defensive players have won the award more than once, with only five players, all quarterbacks, winning it more than once: Bart Starr, Eli Manning, Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw and Tom Brady.
Montana sets himself apart from the others, being the only one who has three Super Bowl MVP awards, something no other player has ever managed to pull off.
Bart Starr – 2
Starr was the MVP for the Green Bay Packers on the first two Super Bowl games, with the Packers beating the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in the first one, as Starr completed 16-of-23 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns; and the Oakland Raiders 33-14 in the second one. Starr threw for 202 yards and one touchdown, completing 13-of-24 passes. Overall he is a five-time NFL champion (including from before the Super Bowl era) and a one-time MVP.
Terry Bradshaw – 2
Bradshaw is a four-time Super Bowl winner with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In Super Bowl XIII (his fourth Super Bowl victory) he led the Steelers to a 35-31 win against the Dallas Cowboys, completing 17-of-30 passes for 318 yards and 4 touchdown passes. He won his fourth Super Bowl ring and second Super Bowl MVP the next year, as the Steelers beat the LA Rams 31-19. Bradshaw completed 14-of-21 passes for 309 yards and two touchdown passes.
Tom Brady – 2
Tom Brady is a three-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots, winning the game’s MVP in the first two visits to the big game: First in Super Bowl XXXVI with a tight 20-17 win over the St. Louis Rams with Brady not putting on quite a show, but his 16-of-27 for 145 yards and a touchdown pass were enough for the award. Two years later the Patriots beat the Panthers with another last-second field goal win, this time 32-29 against the Panthers. He completed 32-of-48 passes for 3 touchdowns and 354 passing yards.
Eli Manning – 2
Some people still find it hard to believe that Eli Manning is a two-time Super Bowl MVP. The first came in 2008 as the Giants stunned the (until then) 18-0 New England Patriots, as Manning completed 19-of-34 passes for 255 yards and two touchdown passes. Four years later – the same opponent, same outcome. Manning completed 30-of-40 passes for 296 yards and a touchdown.
Joe Montana – 3
Montana is the only player with three Super Bowl MVP awards, coming from his four victories in the Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers. Montana’s first Super Bowl MVP came in XVI, as he threw for 157 yards and a touchdown with the Niners beating the Bengals 26-21. His second came three years later with the Niners beating the Dolphins 38-16. Montana completed 24-of-35 passes for 331 yards and three touchdowns. His third MVP award came on his final visit to the big game in 1990, with the Niners destroying the Broncos 55-10. Montana completed 22-of-29 passes for 297 yards and 5 touchdowns.