Super Bowl MVP voting needs to be overhauled

Los Angeles Rams defeat the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 to win the NFL Super Bowl LVI football game at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood.
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Rams receiver Cooper Kupp won the Super Bowl LVI MVP award. It’s hard to argue that he didn’t deserve it. However, it’s fair to wonder whether Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald deserved it more.

This post isn’t about debating Kupp vs. Donald or Donald vs. Kupp. It’s about a voting process that needs to be overhauled, dramatically.

The NFL currently hand-picks 16 media members to vote on the Super Bowl MVP awards, with each voter casting a single all-or-nothing ballot. Fan voting through ultimately counts as four additional votes, with first place counting as 2.5 votes, second-place counting as one vote, and third-place getting 0.5 votes. The fans therefore consist of 20 percent of the total voting, more than enough to decide the outcome in a close contest.

The league won’t disclose the names of the 16 media voters. That’s the first spot where change needs to come. There’s no reason for no transparency. And if someone in the media doesn’t want to have his or her vote scrutinized publicly, he or she should decline to vote.

Another problem arises from the relatively small number of voters. There are far more than 16 media members qualified to cast a ballot. The more the votes, the less likely a bad outcome will happen.

The biggest problem relates to the timing of the vote. The NFL doesn’t wait until the game is over to ask for ballots.

As one source with knowledge of the procedures tells PFT, the NFL wants the votes before the two-minute warning, if possible. Obviously, after Kupp’s second touchdown catch of the night (which came after the two-minute warning), he became the logical choice.

But then Donald saved the game, twice. First, he stopped Bengals running back Samaje Perine on a third-and-one running attempt. Next, Donald harassed Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow into throwing an incomplete pass on fourth down, securing the win.

“We are in touch with the panel during the fourth quarter, and often with the game in the balance, media will wait until the winner of the game is clear before giving us the final vote,” the NFL told PFT in response to an inquiry about the voting process. “There is not a hard deadline. If voters want to wait until immediately after the game concludes, that is fine.”

But the league wants to get the votes tabulated as quickly as possible, so that the MVP award can be announced quickly after the game ends. With only 16 voters, however, how long would it take?

And while we’ve got no problem with the fans having a voice, how meaningful is it to let fans vote before the game has been decided? The voting will be skewed by how things are going at different stages of voting. And then, if the game becomes extremely compelling in the final minute, clicking to cast a ballot for the true MVP potentially becomes an afterthought. It seems like too much randomness for one fifth of the total votes.

So here’s our suggestion. Expand the panel. Accept no ballots before the game has ended. Then, minimize the relevance of fan voting, or harvest fan votes immediately after the game ends, maybe for 10 or 15 minutes.

Who cares if it takes 30 minutes or so for the MVP to be named? It’s a legacy-defining honor. It shouldn’t be rushed. And it shouldn’t be determined by a select handful of secret voters who are hand picked by the NFL.

There should be full transparency. Names. Votes. Everything. These aren’t state secrets. And the secrecy the league employs opens the door for criticism and suspicion. What does the league really gain from that?

86 responses to “Super Bowl MVP voting needs to be overhauled

  1. Why is the Pro Bowl voted on before all 17 games are played? Do those other games not count?

  2. Wasn’t this an issue with Tampa in 02? I remember Derrick brooks making a play or something after voting

  3. LOL. So true. You could have 100+ voters vote by their phone within 60 seconds after the game is over. Once again the NFL can’t get out of their own way.

  4. The NFL is farcical. Changing such an unimportant facet of the game means absolutely nothing.

  5. Didn’t have a problem with Kupp being game MVP. Donald probably deserved it more but Kupp wasn’t a crazy pick.

    I think it’s funny that Tom Brady got mvp in his first Super bowl with 145 yards passing and an 86 rating 😀 He shouldn’t have even been in the top 5.

  6. 1) fans shouldn’t have a vote on anything including the pro bowl. Many players have incentives tied to pro bowls and they shouldn’t be hurt by a popularity contest.

    2) keep it at 16 media members and invite them to box seats and if they can’t attend the game find one who can.

    3) invite 2 current and 2 former players to join the media in the box and make the vote count 20. preferably 1 offensive and 1 defensive player from the current and former players.

    4) let anyone win the mvp. We’ve seen players from losing teams play amazing only to lose the award to someone on the winning team ie Larry fitzgerald

  7. Florio didn’t like it so IT MUST BE CHANGED!!!! Get out of here. You’re not that important.

  8. Do we need a SB MVP? The NFL bills it’s self as the ultimate team sport. Everybody on the winning team gets a ring. Why single out one player.

  9. As with Edelman three years ago, the right guy got the award. Everyone knew he and Krupp were getting the ball and the defenses could no nothing about it.

  10. It’s fine as is.

    Most Super Bowls the MVP is known early enough, and if you forced people to wait and vote it’ll basically become the Best Player on the Last Drive Award

  11. Donald was a non factor for 90% of the game. On that final play he was lined up offsides, as well. Just say the real reason why you want Donald as MVP over Cupp. We know why already. It doesn’t matter anyways, the head referee deserves the MVP for throwing the game to the Rams.

  12. I have never seen a WR get so many catches and yards on broken coverage and CB falling down or getting lined up against a LB. Product of his system. Not an MVP

  13. What i don’t get is why only Donald keeps getting recognized for the 3rd and 1 run stop late in the game. Looked to me like 91 got his arms wrapped around the rbs legs either at the same time or even a little before. I know Aaron Donald is a great player and the best at what he does, but even during the game the announcers were only crediting Donald for the run stop. It had to have been one of the biggest plays in the other man’s career and he got no recognition.

  14. Cooper Kupp should’ve been the NFL MVP this year. He was by far the most valuable player to his team in the regular season and playoffs. Best season EVER by a WR. Kupp scored 2td in the SB including the game winner. Aaron Donald was very contained a huge chunk of the game. It was often pointed out by the commentators especially his frustration. Donald sealed the win for them on the final play, finally starting getting to Burrow but a crap Bengals o-line did a damn good job of protecting Burrow until into the second half… but Cooper Kupp 100% deserved to be SB MVP. This offense lost Robert Woods, Tyler Higbee and in the SB Odell. They had no run game in the SB and the 25th ranked run game this season. Stafford and Kupp shredded teams all year. It’s not time to re-think the SB MVP but the NFL MVP. 51 of the winners since 1938 have been QB. No RB since 2012. Last defensive player in 1986. A KICKER has been MVP but never a WR. Rodgers and Brady again dominated MVP voting in 2021. Kupp got 1 vote. He also got a SB ring in 2021 and SB MVP. It’s absurd people are discredting Kupp now for winning SB MVP.

  15. I’m sure the voters will not be happy having their names published so that upset “fans” can start harassing them for their decision.

  16. Donald was stopped in the first half but his second sack of Burrow forced a FG attempt in the third quarter, it ignited a feeding frenzy pass rush the rest of the game. With help from Gaines he stopped them on 3rd and 1 and then nearly sacked Burrow to end the game.
    Kupp was clutch on the TD drive and got assistance from the refs as well. He had been quiet most of the game after his first TD.

  17. It is impossible to say who was most valuable. Without Stafford, Rams lose. Without Kupp, Rams lose. Without Donald, Rams lose. They split it between Randy White and Harvey Martin. Nobody really knows who is most valuable. And that’s a fact.

  18. Who cares?

    The real Super Bowl MVP for the Rams was the refs… the rest of the nation agrees!!!

  19. As for Kupp……I prefer TDS to yardage and Moss had 23 in 16 games…….to much recency bias……

  20. I get that the refs took their whistles out of their pockets on the game winning drive, but the most blatant error by the referees was the no call on the face mask and throw down of Ramsey to start the third quarter.

  21. How James White didn’t get at least Co-MVP in the NE comeback over Atlanta is something I will never understand. Fourteen receptions for 110 yards, 29 yards receiving and 3 total TDs.

  22. Pretty sure the refs should have gotten the co-MVP’s. The entire Rams Offensive Line committed a false start on the same play that they flagged Wilson for the phantom Defensive Holding call. Then they totally ignored that Donald was completely off sides on the last play. Gotta make sure the fanciest stadium in the country houses a champion. By any means necessary.

  23. If the reason for a tweak to the voting wasn’t best exemplified last night, then look back to the 2002 Bucs dominating win over the Raiders. Dexter Jackson had two early INTs and secured the MVP, largely due to the fan vote. Simeon Rice, however, arguably had an even more impressive game. Rice was pressuring Gannon all game, racking up two sacks, five tackles and a forced fumble. The relentless pass rush from Rice also forced Gannon into making many of those poor throws that resulted in turnovers. Flash forward to the present and Rice is waiting for his turn to get into Canton. A SB MVP would certainly have helped his case to the many voters who didn’t get to watch him play every week.

  24. MVP was whomever threw that yellow laundry on the field on third down. That play was clean as it gets. The fresh set of downs was the true MVP.

  25. The SB shouldn’t have an MVP. It should be a playoff award. If a guy shows up game in and game out in the playoff which allows his team to win the SB then he should get it. It’s better than giving it to a guy that just shows up for a game. Now Donald was great. Kupp has been the guy on offense that makes the dream work even when Stafford isn’t. They both are worthy for that game but for the entire playoffs I’d give it to Kupp who broke Irvin’s post season record. Besides everyone was getting in on the fun for the defense which is why I think Kupp got the nod.

  26. It’s a legacy honor? Can anyone name 5 MVP’s and the particular game they won it that doesn’t involve the team they root for?

  27. Like others have said, Donald was a non factor for much of the game. If he would have had the impact Von Miller had for the Broncos years ago…I’d agree. He didn’t.
    I don’t get why people are trying to manufacture a MVP for him. He had a good game…not a great game.

  28. As much as I love Aaron Donald, he was barely noticeable in the first half. Right guy won the award.

    Don’t let the vans vote – they’re way too bias. Media probably is too, but I’d like to think it’s not as bad.

    And yes, there’s no reason the vote can’t be made immediately after the game is over. Geez, it’s only 16 votes.

  29. Neither was the MVP. The official that threw the flag on that ticky-tack penalty at the end of the game won it for the Rams. Give him the MVP, the players were irrelevant.

  30. If only there was a technology that people had that would let everyone vote on the MVP from their home, seat, car.

    Psst…F1 does it every race.

  31. Outside of any potential incentives or bonuses triggered by MVP voting, what difference does it really make? The game is played for entertainment purposes and when the game is over the experience isn’t any better or worse because one person is named MVP over another. There are plenty of real issues to debate related to the well being of the NFL. This is not one of them.

  32. Why is it that every time it’s a close decision or circumstance we need to change a rule. Be it overtime when the Bills are completely incapable of preventing KC from going 50+ yards in 13 seconds or the awarding of a trophy that has absolutely no bearing on the end result of a competition. Do you think the Rams are upset? I’m pretty sure everyone is satisfied with the SB trophy.

  33. Of the NFL insists on heaping extra praises on the Super Bowl winner it should allocate an offensive AND a defensive player awards especially for occasions like this year with two players earnestly earning the award !!

  34. The league, the league, the league…
    “The league wants the vote before the two minute warning… “.
    Last time I checked, a regulation game was 60 minutes.

    Between the repetitive, incompetency of the league’s management and their downright extremely, questionable, actions, eg, the lack of true implementation of the Rooney rule, to mention just one obvious blemish,
    if anyone should be truly monitored by an impartial body it’s individual team ownership and the league’s upper management, ie, the Commissioner’s office, etc.

    I wonder if this is how it was in the days of the Gladiators fighting in front of crowds in Coliseums.
    Are we watching history repeat itself?

  35. 16 play game winning drive with no running game and only one WR. It should have gone to Stafford and anybody that bet Stafford got robbed.

  36. The reality is that the entire MVP thing for one and done game is overblown and needs to be axed. When it comes down to it, without the NFL’s best wide receiver in Kupp the Rams wouldn’t have won the game. He’s the most deserving of the award, not Donald. That said, it’s a team game, without blocking, passing, receiving and defense, the Rams don’t win.

  37. harryglyphics says:
    February 14, 2022 at 6:50 pm
    Oh stop it.
    Stated PERFECTLY! Leave it GO!

  38. Donald would have been fine. Kupp is fine too. They both were deserving. I dont see this one as the one to be mad over.

  39. I think anytime the guy we want to win doesn’t get it we need to change the rules so he does. That’s the new American way.

  40. “The biggest problem relates to the timing of the vote. The NFL doesn’t wait until the game is over to ask for ballots….,,
    There is not a hard deadline. If voters want to wait until immediately after the game concludes, that is fine.”
    So it’s probably not the biggest problem.

  41. It should have been the officials get the MVP. After all, they handed the game to the Rams at the end.

  42. Should probably first focus on fixing league MVP… or at least call it MVQ. But yes, someone here pointed out Brady’s first Super Bowl MVP. Another is Peyton Manning’s. He had one long touchdown on a blown coverage and was otherwise terrible. Meanwhile, Hayden has a pick six and Addai averaged 4.8 yards rushing while catching ten passes.

    But, you can extend the voting and timeline as much as you want. It’s still a popularity contest, as we saw with Rodgers winning this year.

  43. jam11163 says:
    February 14, 2022 at 6:25 pm
    Leave it alone. The right guy won it. And should have won the season MVP also.


    The right guy did not win it at all. Problem with the MVP and SB MVP is it always goes to a QB or WR. Cupp probably should have won the season MVP but not the SB. Donald won that game for them with 4 quarters or top play.

  44. blowncallssuck says:
    February 14, 2022 at 8:22 pm
    MVP was whomever threw that yellow laundry on the field on third down. That play was clean as it gets. The fresh set of downs was the true MV


    Wonder how long we get to hear folks whine about this? Not like they would have needed the TD if not for the missed worse call in the history of the NFL of a WR trying to rip a players head off by the facemask with no call leading to a TD. SO anyone who wants to complain about the 3rd down call should just quieten down and move along.

  45. I don’t take much stock in Pro Bowl votes as now since fans are involved. Now it’s just a popularity contest. Add the fan votes into the MVP and it’ll be another popularity contest as well. Maybe it already is with 16 voters, but I have an idea they’re trained to be less biased than fans are.

  46. For all the garbage the media puts out they should never have anything to do with voting on anything.

  47. Kupp was the right choice, Donald was shut down most of the game. Odel Beckham would have been a better choice than Donald.

  48. Who cares. The MVP is just another opportunity for product placement … its not about who wins the award.

    In the days of the cell phone, Have all 16 or 600 media members vote electronically. Tabulation is instant. Join the 21st century.

  49. Take it out of the media’s hands altogether and select 8 coaches and 8 players to vote on the SB MVP.

  50. Cooper should have got the season MVP as well!
    Cooper Kup was the difference all Donald did all game was the Hollywood tackle at the end. there shouldn’t even be a debate. Florio has some good points, however as the regular season voting shows, there will always be debates, why break something that’s not broken, just leave it be, except have some ex players on the panel and only vote when the game has finished.

  51. As someone who has covered several, they would collect votes usually a few minutes into the fourth quarter… Honestly, the only way to do it would be to have a very small group of people as designated voters who would make the ruling as soon as the game was done… If that had been the case, Malcolm Butler would have won a few years ago and Aaron Donald likely would have won on Sunday… I’m sure there are others that would have been impacted as well… I did not have a problem with Kupp winning, but I would have voted for Donald… Doing it the way they do it now is part of the reason the winning QB wins so often…

  52. So the big problem here is, that the Rams had two players so good that they both deserved to be MVP?
    Sounds like a good problem to have.

  53. He had one long touchdown on a blown coverage and was otherwise terrible. Meanwhile, Hayden has a pick six and Addai averaged 4.8 yards rushing while catching ten passes.

    Or Dominic Rhodes 21 carries 113 yards 1 TD against one of the best run defenses in the league

  54. In All Honesty,…. I think sports fans are having a bigger problem with the SB MVP Award than any of the other players. To me it looks like you won’t be satisfied until they hand out a Defense MVP and a Offense MVP for the Super Bowl.

  55. I’m not necessarily sold that it ‘needs’ to change. That said, with the aspect of social media I’m not entirely sure there needs to be a media presence involved at all. If bias by media personnel is the issue simply remove it and defer to the masses. Where it should be to begin with.

  56. why open this up to scrutiny and debate? All it does is create a cloud of doubt around a man realizing a boy hood dream, and all for the sake of giving pundits something to debate. Hard pass, it’s fine as is and Cooper Kupp was more than deserving. Aaron Donald was more than deserving. I highly doubt Donald has paid this a second thought.

  57. mark says:
    February 15, 2022 at 6:47 am
    It should have been the officials get the MVP. After all, they handed the game to the Rams at the end.


    Really? Were they the ones who decided to keep Joe Mixon in the bench on 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1? Perhaps the Bengals’ coach should have gotten the award on behalf of the Rams

  58. Offense always going to win, it seems. Pats / Rams SB in 2019 – Most Pats fans knew that Punter Ryan Allen was the real MVP.

  59. 8 receptions for 92 yards and 2 TDs. Kupp was deserving. Donald disappeared for an entire half and one of his two sacks was pushing Burrow out of bounds out of frustration. He played great in the end and made the plays to win, but that’s not enough to warrant an MVP.

    Stafford threw two picks and couldn’t move the ball for a long stretch in the 3rd and 4th quarter. He wasn’t deserving either.

  60. The entire football world saw the FACE MASK NO CALL which led to a Bengals score, that is all except the Officials.

  61. Totally agree. It’s the MVP of the game, not the first three quarters of the game. No reason on earth why voting can’t open at the final whistle and remain open for ten minutes. You’ll have your MVP decided before the Lombardi Trophy is handed to the owner. Along those same lines, it’s stupid to elect the season MVP before the season ends. Rodgers had a great regular season, then went into “only I can do it” mode and blew the Packers’ year out of the water. That’s not what an MVP does and it only makes sense that the league MVP is determined at the very earliest after the conference championship games. Give us an MVP who showed up when the lights were the brightest, not one who folds like a cheap suit in the first game after a top seed bye.

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