Only two NFL players have four or more MVP awards. Despite his seven Super Bowl wins, Tom Brady is not one of them. So who sits ahead of him on the list?
The NFL MVP Award is the most prestigious individual accolade up for grabs in the league each year.
Running backs, defensive players and even a kicker have won the NFL MVP previously, though in the modern era it is an award dominated by star quarterbacks.
In 1957, the Associated Press first began recognizing the best player of the year. The trophy has existed in its current form as the AP Most Valuable Player Award since 1961.
Our NFL MVP list profiles the players who have won the most in league history, factoring in all awards since 1957.
Peyton Manning: Five NFL MVPs
Peyton Manning has won the NFL MVP Award five times, which is the most of any player.
Having won two championships, Manning trails longtime rival Tom Brady when it comes to Super Bowl successes, but his status as the player with the most NFL MVPs has only come under threat from Aaron Rodgers.
Manning was the back-to-back winner in MVP voting on two occasions. He won in the 2003 and 2004 seasons before repeating the feat in 2008 and 2009.
As well as those four wins with the Indianapolis Colts, Manning added a fifth MVP season in 2013 when records tumbled during his second year with the Denver Broncos.
Neither of Manning’s two Super Bowl wins came in years when he was named the league MVP. In two of the five years (2009 and 2013) he did make it to the Super Bowl, only to be denied by the New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks, respectively.
Manning shard the MVP in 2003 after a tie with Steve McNair – something that has not happened since in the NFL – after leading the Colts to 12-4 season.
In 2004 there was no doubt, with Manning receiving 47 of the 48 votes cast to win emphatically. Manning had career-high yards per attempt (9.2) and passer rating (121.1) marks that year. He threw for 49 touchdowns, then a league record, and the Colts were 12-4 again, but once again denied by the New England Patriots in the postseason.
Manning had won the Super Bowl – against the Chicago Bears to conclude the 2006 season – by the time of his next MVP double.
His MVP season in 2008 was soured by an overtime loss to the San Diego Chargers in the wild-card round of the playoffs.
In the following year, the Colts stormed to a 14-2 season with Manning passing for 4,500 yards and a career-high 68.8 completion percentage and only a shocking upset by the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV denied Indianapolis.
By 2013, Manning was in his second year with the Broncos and produced his best statistical season as he led an explosive offense in Denver.
He started the season with a stunning statement of intent against the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, becoming the first NFL player since 1969 to throw for seven passing touchdowns in a single game.
Manning went on to set league records for passing yards (5,477) and yards per game (342.3), while reclaiming the single-season touchdown record from Brady by throwing for 55 (with just 10 interceptions) across 16 spectacular regular-season games.
For the second time in his career, he received all but one NFL MVP vote. However, a brutal 43-8 loss to Seattle in New Jersey thwarted Denver’s Super Bowl hopes.
In the 2015 season, by then a fading Manning would eventually help the Broncos get over the hump. Von Miller powered a Denver defensive performance that led to a Super Bowl triumph over the Carolina Panthers, allowing Manning to ride off into the sunset as a two-time champion along with his five MVPs.
Aaron Rodgers: Four NFL MVPs
Like Manning, the ability of Rodgers is not reflected in his championship total, which in the case of the Green Bay Packers great is one.
However, Rodgers has so far racked up four NFL MVPs, putting him second to Manning overall.
Rodgers was a Super Bowl champion and Super Bowl MVP before he won his first league MVP crown.
He had led the Packers to victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers to conclude the 2010 NFL season before claiming his first annual individual award in 2011.
The Packers stormed to a 15-1 record in 2011 and Rodgers has not since surpassed his tallies of 4,643 passing yards and 9.2 yards per atttempt that year, while his 122.5 passer rating remains the best in NFL history.
He was the clear winner that year, though in his 2014 success – when Rodgers had 38 touchdowns to just five picks – he had to see off the challenge of Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, who had put up a formidable defensive campaign with 20.5 sacks.
As the QB’s level appeared to start dipping and his age ticked up, the Packers picked Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
That lit a fire under Rodgers, whose age-37 and age-38 campaigns saw him named the NFL MVP twice more in 2020 and 2021.
Across those two seasons amid near-constant debate over his future with the team, Rodgers racked up 8,414 passing yards and had 85 touchdowns to just nine interceptions.
The Packers had three consecutive 13-3 seasons from 2019 to 2021 but could not add to their title tally, with NFC Championship game losses to the San Francisco 49ers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers frustrating Rodgers, who went on to join the New York Jets.
Tom Brady: Three NFL MVPs
After beating Green Bay, Brady and the Bucs went on to win the Super Bowl – the quarterback’s record seventh title – in that 2020 season.
And a year later, Brady was the closest challenger to Rodgers, leading the NFL MVP odds for much of the season as he continued to put up spectacular numbers in the final years of his storied career.
Brady hung up his cleats with three NFL MVP trophies.
His 2007 award came as the Patriots recorded their famous 16-0 season and was boosted by the presence of Randy Moss, (98 catches for 1,493 yards and 23 TDs), Brady was incredible with 4,806 passing yards, 50 TD passes and a 117.2 passer rating. Only a stunning upset from Eli Manning and the New York Giants spoiled the Pats’ perfect season in Super Bowl XLII.
Brady’s second MVP year was 2010, as he had 36 TDs and just four INTs, helping the Patriots to a league-leading 14-2 record.
He then led all QBs with 4,577 passing yards in 2017, enough to hold off Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley in the voting.
Brady may feel unfortunate to end his career with just three titles as the NFL MVP, but seven Super Bowl crowns and five Super Bowl MVPs will more than soften the blow.
Brett Favre: 3 NFL MVPs
Favre is the second Packers great on this list, winning three MVPs in consecutive years between 1995-97.
The final award was shared with legendary Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders, while Favre was the outright winner in 1995 and 1996.
That 1996 season saw Favre win his sole Super Bowl, beating the Patriots to cap a memorable year when he threw for a career-best 39 TDs.
Favre led the NFL in TD passes in all three of his MVP years and posted a career-high 4,413 passing yards in 1995.
Johnny Unitas: 3 NFL MVPs
With four championship wins and a reputation as one of the best QBs ever, it is no surprise to see Unitas on this list.
Unitas, who played for the Baltimore Colts, was the first QB to claim the award in 1959. He added more in 1964 and 1967.
Despite his three MVPs and three championships before the merger, it looked for a while like Unitas might end his career without a ring in the Super Bowl era.
But the Colts would ultimately taste glory in Super Bowl V against the Dallas Cowboys despite the 37-year-old Golden Arm going down with an injury in the first half.
Jim Brown: Three NFL MVPs
Brown, a star running back for the Cleveland Browns, won the first two MVP awards in 1957 and 1958, before later adding a third in his final season in 1965.
Brown sensationally led the NFL in both total rushing yards and rushing yards per game across eight of his nine seasons in the league. He helped Cleveland to championship glory in 1964.
He is the only non-quarterback to win multiple MVP awards. Since his retirement, the Browns have only had one other MVP (QB Brian Sipe in 1980).
Patrick Mahomes: Two NFL MVPs
Having won three Super Bowl crowns and two NFL MVP trophies by the age of 27, Mahomes is a clear threat to many of the records held by the likes of Brady, Manning and Rodgers.
The Kansas City Chiefs superstar and Texas Tech product incredibly won his first MVP award in his first year as a full-time starter in the league.
After playing just once as a rookie in 2017, Mahomes averaged 318.6 yards per game in 2018 while throwing for 50 TDs and posting a 113.8 passer rating, which remains his career high. A first championship followed the next season.
In 2022, Mahomes was back at his best despite questions over how he might be impacted by the departure of star receiver Tyreek Hill. The QB took his game to another level, leading the league with 5,250 yards and 41 passing TDs (adding four more on the ground).
Mahomes then led the Chiefs to a thrilling 38-35 Super Bowl victory over the Philadelphia Eagles to conclude the season, earning his second of three MVP awards in football’s biggest game.
That win ended a curse that had seen a host of league MVPs lose when they reached the Super Bowl, with Manning (twice), Brady (twice), Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, Rich Gannon, Kurt Warner and Shaun Alexander all falling short before him.
Which Players Have Been Unanimous MVPs?
Tom Brady and Lamar Jackson are the only two players to be voted unanimous NFL MVPs.
Brady achieved the feat in 2010, receiving all 50 votes cast after a dominant New England season.
Jackson matched the accomplishment in 2019, albeit playing in a very different style to the pocket-passing Brady.
Jackson was incredible in his second season, rushing for 1,206 yards – an NFL record for QBs – and seven TDs. He was just as good through the air, posting a perfect passer rating in a 59–10 road win at the Miami Dolphins to open the season. Lamar did not look back from there and had 36 TDs with only six picks as the Ravens went 14-2.
As well as being just the second unanimous MVP, the 22-year-old dual threat QB was the youngest player to be voted MVP since Brown way back in 1957.
Last Non-Quarterback MVP
Fifteen of the last 16 NFL MVP winners have been quarterbacks.
The only non-QB to win in that span is running back Adrian Peterson, who starred for the Minnesota Vikings in 2012 to edge out Peyton Manning in the QB’s first season with the Broncos.
Peterson was unstoppable as he led the NFL with 2,097 rushing yards and averaged a career-best 6.0 yards per carry. The previous RB to win had been the Chargers’ LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006.
Last Defensive Player to Win MVP
You have to go much further back for the last defensive player to be named NFL MVP.
While Watt almost came out on top in 2014, the last defensive winner was New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor in 1986.
Taylor won despite having stiff competition in the form of Rams RB Eric Dickerson and Dolphins QB Dan Marino.
The Giants were 14-2 with Taylor racking up 20.5 sacks and they steamrolled their way through the playoffs before rolling past John Elway and the Broncos in Super Bowl XXI.
Vikings DT Alan Page (1971) is the only other defensive winner, while Mark Moseley made history as the only kicker to win the award when he triumphed for Washington in 1982.
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