NFL Most Value Players: Complete list of MVPs

Complete list of all players that have won MVP

Peyton Manning retires a winner. Getty Images

The NFL began awarding the Joe F. Carr Trophy -- Carr was league president from 1921 to 1939 -- to the league's most valuable player in 1938 and continued to do so until 1946. Since then, the NFL's most valuable players and players of the year have been named by a variety of sources including some of the top football publications. In the early and post-World War II years, no MVP was selected for some years.

Those years have been omitted from the list.

1938 to 1949 - The Early Years

The game -- and the league -- were quite different in the early years compared to today. Some teams had names like the Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Yanks (and, yes, these were NFL teams). Positions like split ends and halfbacks dominated the game played by Hall of Famers like Mel Hein, Ace Park, Don Hutson, Frank Sinkwich and Bob Waterfield.

1938 - Mel Hein, center, New York Giants

1939 - Parker Hall, tailback and halfback - Cleveland Rams and San Francisco 49ers

1940 - Ace Parker, quarterback, Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Yanks.

1941 - Don Hutson, split end, Green Bay Packers

1942 - Don Hutson, split end, Green Bay Packers

1943 - Sid Luckman, quarterback, Chicago Bears

1944 - Frank Sinkwich, halfback, Detroit Lions

1945 - Bob Waterfield, quarterback, Cleveland Rams

1946 - Bill Dudley, halfback, Pittsburgh Steelers

1947 -  Otto Graham, quarterback, Cleveland Browns

1948 - Otto Graham, quarterback, Cleveland Browns

          - Frankie Albert, quarterback, San Francisco 49ers

1951-1959 - The Post-WWII Years

The post-World War II years saw the emergence of many great NFL stars with names that are still well-known today: Otto Graham, Frank Gifford, Y.A. Title and Jim Brown.

Different groups -- such as United Press Associations, "The Sporting News" and the Newspaper Enterprise Association -- started making their own  MVP picks as the NFL began to grow in popularity. So, some years there were two or even three MVPs. The organizations are noted in parentheses after their selections.

1951 - Otto Graham, quarterback, Cleveland Browns

1953 -  Otto Graham, quarterback, Cleveland Browns

1954 -  Joe Perry, fullback, San Francisco 49ers (United Press Associations)
         - Lou Groza, offensive tackle, Cleveland Browns ("The Sporting News")

1955 - Otto Graham, quarterback, Cleveland  Browns (United Press, "The Sporting News")
         - Harlon Hill, end, Chicago Bears (Newspaper Enterprise Association)

1956 - Frank Gifford, halfback, New York Giants 

1957 - Y.A. Tittle, quarterback, San Francisco 49ers (United Press)
         - Jim Brown, fullback, Cleveland Browns (Associated Press, "The Sporting News")
         - Johnny Unitas, quarterback, Baltimore Colts (Newspaper Enterprise Association)

1958 - Jim Brown, fullback, Cleveland Browns

1959 - Johnny Unitas, quarterback, Baltimore Colts (United Press, Maxwell Club of Philadelphia,
          The Sporting News")
         - Charley Conerly, quarterback, New York Giants (Associated Press, Newspaper Enterprise Association)

1960-1969 - The Emergence of the AFL

During the sixties, an upstart league -- the American Football League -- came into being. Many other leagues had tried before -- and since -- to compete with the NFL. None of them succeeded other than the AFL, which would eventually merge and become part of the NFL. The MVPs for both leagues are listed below. 

1960

NFL

  • Norm Van Brocklin, quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles (United Press, Newspaper Enterprise Association, "The Sporting News," Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)
  • Joe Schmidt, linebacker, Detroit Lions (United Press- tie)

AFL

  • Abner Haynes, halfback, Dallas Texans (United Press, "The Sporting News")

1961

NFL

  •  Paul Hornung, halfback, Green Bay (United Press, Associated Press, "The Sporting News," Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)
  • Y.A. Tittle, quarterback, NY Giants (Newspaper Enterprise Association)

    AFL

    • George Blanda, quarterback, Houston (United Press, "The Sporting News")

    1962

    NFL

    • Y.A. Tittle, quarterback, NY Giants (United Press, "The Sporting News")
    • Jim Taylor, fullback, Green Bay (Associated Press, Newspaper Enterprise Association)
    • Andy Robustelli, defensive end, Giants (Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)

    AFL

    • Cookie Gilchrist, fullback, Buffalo (United Press)
    • Len Dawson, quarterback, Dallas Texans ("The Sporting News")

    1963

    NFL

    • Jim Brown, fullback, Cleveland (United Press, Newspaper Enterprise Association, Maxwell Club)
    • Y.A. Tittle, quarterback, New York Giants (Associated Press, Newspaper Enterprise Association, "The Sporting News")

     AFL

    • Lance Alworth, wide receiver, San Diego Chargers (United Press)
    • Clem Daniels, halfback, Oakland ("The Sporting News")

    1964

     NFL

    • Johnny Unitas, quarterback, Baltimore (United Press, Associated Press, "The Sporting News," Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)
    • Lenny Moore, halfback, Baltimore (Newspaper Enterprise Association)

      AFL

    • Gino Cappelletti, wide receiver, Boston Patriots (United Press, "The Sporting News")

    1965

     NFL

    • Jim Brown, fullback, Cleveland (United Press, Associated Press, "The Sporting News," Newspaper Enterprise Association)
    • Pete Retzlaff, tight end, Philadelphia (Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)

     AFL

    • Jack Kemp, quarterback, Buffalo (United Press)
    • Paul Lowe, halfback, San Diego ("The Sporting News")

    1966

    NFL

    • Bart Starr, quarterback, Green Bay (United Press, Associated Press, Newspaper Enterprise Association, "The Sporting News")
    • Don Meredith, quarterback, Dallas (Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)

        AFL

      • Jim Nance, fullback, Boston (United Press, Associated Press, "The Sporting News")

      1967

       NFL

      • Johnny Unitas, quarterback, Baltimore (United Press, Associated Press, Newspaper Enterprise  Association, "The Sporting News," Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)

        AFL

      • Daryle Lamonica, quarterback, Oakland (United Press, Associated Press, "The Sporting News")

      1968

       NFL

      • Earl Morrall, quarterback, Baltimore (United Press, Associated Press, Newspaper Enterprise  Association, "The Sporting News," "Pro Football Weekly")
      • Leroy Kelly, halfback, Cleveland (Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)

      AFL

      • Joe Namath, quarterback, New York Jets (United Press, "The Sporting News," "Pro Football Weekly")

      1969

      NFL

      • Roman Gabriel, quarterback, LA Rams (United Press, Associated Press, Newspaper Enterprise  Association, Maxwell Club of Philadelphia, "The Sporting News," "Pro Football Weekly")

      AFL

      • Daryle Lamonica, quarterback, Oakland (United Press, "The Sporting News," "Pro Football Weekly")
      • Joe Namath, quarterback, New York Jets (Associated Press)

      1970-1979 - Post-Merger Years

      The post-NFL/AFL merger years saw the rise of the Pittsburgh Steelers led by quarterback Terry Bradshaw and the famous "Steel Curtain" defense. But, only one Pittsburg player -- Bradshaw -- won the MVP during the decade. All of the other most valuable player awards went to stellar members of other teams.

      1970
      • John Brodie, quarterback, San Francisco (Associated Press, Newspaper Enterprise Association)
      • George Blanda, quarterback/kicker, Oakland (Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)

      1971
      • Alan Page, defensive tackle, Minnesota (Associated Press)
      • Bob Griese, quarterback, Miami (Newspaper Enterprise Association)
      • Roger Staubach, quarterback, Dallas (Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)

      1972
      • Larry Brown, running back, Washington (Associated Press, Newspaper Enterprise Association, Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)

      1973
      • O.J. Simpson, running back, Buffalo (Associated Press, Newspaper Enterprise Association, Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)

      1974
      • Ken Stabler, quarterback, Oakland (Associated Press, Newspaper Enterprise Association)
      • Merlin Olsen, defensive tackle, LA Rams (Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)

      1975
      • Fran Tarkenton, quarterback, Minnesota (Pro Football Writers of America, Associated Press, Newspaper Enterprise Association, Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)

      1976
      • Bert Jones, quarterback, Baltimore (Pro Football Writers of America, Associated Press, Newspaper Enterprise Association)
      • Ken Stabler, quarterback, Oakland (Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)

      1977
      • Walter Payton, running back, Chicago (Pro Football Writers of America, Associated Press, Newspaper Enterprise Association)
      • Bob Griese, quarterback, Miami (Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)

      1978
      • Earl Campbell, running back, Houston (Pro Football Writers of America, Newspaper Enterprise Association)
      • Terry Bradshaw, quarterback, Pittsburgh (Associated Press, Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)

      1979
      • Earl Campbell, running back, Houston (Pro Football Writers of America, Associated Press, Newspaper Enterprise Association, Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)

      1980-1989 - The Quarterback Emerges

      The San Francisco 49ers would come to dominate the decade, led by quarterback Joe Montana, who snagged an MVP in 1989. But, nine other quarterbacks would win MVP awards during the decade, including superstars like Ron Jaworski, Dan Fouts, Joe Theisman (who won the award twice in the 1980s), Dan Marino and John Elway. But, there were also some very notable running back MVPs, including such football legends as Earl Campbell, Eric Dickerson, John Riggens, "Sweetness" Walter Payton and Roger Craig.

      1980
      • Brian Sipe, quarterback, Cleveland (Pro Football Writers of America, Associated Press, "The Sporting News")
      • Earl Campbell, running back, Houston (Newspaper Enterprise Association)
      • Ron Jaworski, quarterback, Philadelphia (Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)

      1981
      • Ken Anderson, quarterback, Cincinnati (Pro Football Writers of America, Associated Press, Newspaper Enterprise Association, "The Sporting News", Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)

      1982
      • Dan Fouts, quarterback, San Diego (Pro Football Writers of America, Newspaper Enterprise Association)
      • Mark Moseley, kicker, Washington (Associated Press, "The Sporting News")
      • Joe Theismann, quarterback,  Washington (Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)

      1983
      • Joe Theismann, quarterback,  Washington (Pro Football Writers Association of America, Associated Press, Newspaper Enterprise Association)
      • Eric Dickerson, running back, LA Rams ("The Sporting News")
      • John Riggens, running back, Washington (Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)

      1984
      • Dan Marino, quarterback,  Miami (Pro Football Writers Association of America, Associated Press, Newspaper Enterprise Association, Maxwell Club of Philadelphia, "The Sporting News")

      1985
      • Marcus Allen, running back, LA Raiders (Pro Football Writers Association of America, Associated Press, "The Sporting News")
      • Walter Payton, running back, Chicago Bears (Newspaper Enterprise Association, Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)

      1986
      • Lawrence Taylor, linebacker, NY Giants (Pro Football Writers Association of America, Associated Press, Maxwell Club of Philadelphia, "The Sporting News")
      • Phil Simms, quarterback, NY Giants (Newspaper Enterprise Association)

      1987
      • Jerry Rice, wide receiver, San Francisco (Pro Football Writers Association of America, Newspaper Enterprise Association, Maxwell Club of Philadelphia, "The Sporting News")
      • John Elway, quarterback, Denver (Associated Press)

      1988
      • Boomer Esiason, quarterback, Cincinnati (Pro Football Writers Association of America, Associated Press, "The Sporting News")
      • Roger Craig, running back, San Francisco (Newspaper Enterprise Association)
      • Randall Cunningham, quarterback, Philadelphia (Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)

      1989
      • Joe Montana, quarterback, San Francisco (Pro Football Writers Association of America, Associated Press, Newspaper Enterprise Association, Maxwell Club of Philadelphia, "The Sporting News")

      1990-1999 - Dallas, Green Bay and 'The Greatest Show on Turf'

      Familiar names like start running backs Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith and Terrell Davis came onto the scene and started to pick up MVP awards, as did quarterbacks Brett Favre, who picked up three MFPs during the decade, and one-time grocery store stock clerk, Kurt Warner, who lead the Rams to their first Superbowl after the 1999 season.

      1990
      • Randall Cunningham, quarterback, Philadelphia (Pro Football Writers Association of America)
      • Joe Montana, quarterback, San Francisco (Associated Press)
      • Jerry Rice, wide receiver, San Francisco ("The Sporting News")

      1991
      • Thurman Thomas, running back, Buffalo (Pro Football Writers Association of America, Associated Press, "The Sporting News")
      • Barry Sanders, running back, Detroit (Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)

      1992
      • Steve Young, quarterback, San Francisco (Pro Football Writers Association of America, Associated Press, Maxwell Club of Philadelphia, "The Sporting News")

      1993
      • Emmitt Smith, running back, Dallas (Pro Football Writers Association of America, Associated Press, Maxwell Club of Philadelphia, "The Sporting News"

      1994
      • Steve Young, quarterback, San Francisco (Pro Football Writers Association of America, Associated Press, Maxwell Club of Philadelphia, "The Sporting News")

      1995
      • Brett Favre, quarterback, Green Bay (Pro Football Writers Association of America, Associated Press, Maxwell Club of Philadelphia, "The Sporting News")

      1996
      • Brett Favre, quarterback, Green Bay (Pro Football Writers Association of America, Associated Press, Maxwell Club of Philadelphia, "The Sporting News")

      1997
      • Brett Favre, quarterback, Green Bay (Associated Press - tie)
      • Barry Sanders, running back, Detroit (Pro Football Writers Association of America, Associated Press (tie), Maxwell Club of Philadelphia, "The Sporting News")

      1998
      • Terrell Davis, running back, Denver (Pro Football Writers Association of America, Associated Press, "The Sporting News")
      • Randall Cunningham, quarterback, Minnesota (Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)

      1999
      • Kurt Warner, quarterback, St. Louis Rams (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association of America, Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)

      2000-2009 - Manning vs. Brady

      There were other MVPs of course -- a number who have gone on to the NFL Hall of Fame -- but the biggest names of the decade were multiyear MVP quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, who would both eventually go on to rewrite the record books in terms of single-season touchdown passes (Manning followed by Brady), career touchdown passes (Manning) and Super Bowl wins by a quarterback (Brady). 

      2000
      • Marshall Faulk, running back, St. Louis Rams (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association of America)
      • Rich Gannon, quarterback, Oakland (Maxwell Club of Philadelphia)

      2001
      • Kurt Warner, quarterback, St. Louis Rams (Associated Press)
      • Marshall Faulk, running back, St. Louis Rams (Pro Football Writers Association of America, Maxwell Club of Philadelphia, "The Sporting News")

      2002
      • Rich Gannon, quarterback, Oakland Raiders

      2003
      • Peyton Manning, quarterback, Indianapolis Colts
      • Steve McNair, quarterback, Tennessee Titans (tie)

      2004
      • Peyton Manning, quarterback, Indianapolis Colts

      2005
      • Shaun Alexander, running back, Seattle Seahawks

      2006
      • LaDainian Tomlinson, running back, San Diego Chargers

      2007
      • Tom Brady, quarterback, New England Patriots

      2008
      • Peyton Manning, quarterback, Indianapolis Colts

      2009
      • Peyton Manning, quarterback, Indianapolis Colts

      2010-2016 - The Era of the Quarterback

      Quarterbacks would come to dominate the game during the decade unlike any other, with five players from this position picking up six of seven MVP awards through 2016, with Green Bay's Aaron Rogers winning twice.

      2010
      • Tom Brady, quarterback, New England Patriots

      2011
      • Aaron Rodgers, quarterback, Green Bay Packers

      2012
      • Adrian Peterson, running back, Minnesota Vikings

      2013
      • Peyton Manning, quarterback, Denver Broncos

      2014
      • Aaron Rodgers, quarterback, Green Bay Packers

      2015
      • Cam Newton, quarterback, Carolina Panthers

      2016
      • Matt Ryan, quarterback, Atlanta Falcons

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      Your Citation
      McCormick, Sean. "NFL Most Value Players: Complete list of MVPs." ThoughtCo, Jul. 31, 2017, thoughtco.com/nfl-most-value-players-complete-list-4058453. McCormick, Sean. (2017, July 31). NFL Most Value Players: Complete list of MVPs. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/nfl-most-value-players-complete-list-4058453 McCormick, Sean. "NFL Most Value Players: Complete list of MVPs." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/nfl-most-value-players-complete-list-4058453 (accessed December 12, 2017).