From Blake Griffin jumping over a Kia to anything NASCAR, American sports and the automotive industry have enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship together. Think of Shaq squeezing into a Buick or this horrible 1986 Honda commercial starring a mulleted Jim McMahon. And though it may not be a cornerstone of these corporate sponsorship strategies, the Super Bowl MVP car has its own history of triumphant and awkward moments.
At Super Bowl I, quarterback Bart Starr led the Green Bay Packers to a 35-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. He earned MVP honors and a slick 1967 Corvette Roadster, kicking off one of football’s most traditional hand-offs, the Super Bowl MVP car giveaway. The Packers repeated in Super Bowl II with Starr winning a second Corvette, which he generously auctioned off to support a Wisconsin home for at-risk boys.
The 1969 NFL championship — the first to actually bear the name “Super Bowl” —saw Joe Namath lead his New York Jets to an upset over Johnny Unitas’ Colts, then based in Baltimore. The prize for his MVP performance was a blue Dodge Charger R/T, complete with a snarling 440-cid V8. “That’s why I call the MVP car a win-win-win,” Namath explained. “Even Uncle Sam gets his cut.”
While the first years of the Super Bowl coincided with the heyday of American muscle, not every MVP was so fired up about receiving a testosterone-spewing pony car. In 1972, Roger Staubach piloted the Dallas Cowboys to their very first title on his way to becoming Super Bowl VI MVP. When informed that he’d won a Dodge Charger, he shrugged and asked for a station wagon instead. “We had three kids,” Staubach says now. “What was I going to do with a Dodge Charger?”
The Washington Redskins took 1988’s Super Bowl XXII, led by a four-touchdown performance from quarterback Doug Williams. For winning the game’s MVP award, Williams was given a sleek burgundy Subaru XT, a departure from the land yachts that came before it. He gave the coupe a try, but size became an issue for the 6’4, 225-lb Williams and eventually led him to give it up. “I drove it for about six months,” he told Sports Illustrated. “Then I signed it over to my brother, who probably drove it for eight years. I wish Subarus were as big back then as they are now.” The very next year, Super Bowl XXIII MVP and 49ers great Jerry Rice gave away his Subaru XT6 even faster by offering it to his mom in his MVP acceptance speech.
Fast forward to last decade, when Cadillac let the MVPs answer a multiple-choice question and choose their own prize. It was a nice idea, but the players were less imaginative. From 2002 to 2009, only Deion Branch opted for anything other than an Escalade when he came away with the convertible XLR in 2005.
Drew Brees put New Orleans on his back and delivered one of the feel-good sports stories of 2010, winning the title for the Saints and game MVP for himself. Unfortunately for Brees, the Super Bowl was held soon after GM received massive government bailouts, and gifting a car to the multi-millionaire quarterback was not high on GM’s list of priorities. At least he got to hang out with Mickey Mouse.
Eli Manning was named Super Bowl MVP for the second time in 2012, but instead of winning a second Escalade, broadcaster Dan Patrick handed Manning the keys to a 2012 Corvette Grand Sport Convertible Continental Edition. It boasted the Chevrolet 100th anniversary package with such colorful highlights as satin black wheels, carbon flash metallic paint, and a black suede-trimmed black interior. It’s a black Corvette.
The Patriots won again in 2014, and again Tom Brady was named MVP, and again he won a new car. Except Tom Brady doesn’t need a new car. So, in a heartwarming gesture, Brady gave the prize 2015 Chevy Colorado to reserve cornerback Malcolm Butler, who made the game-clinching interception against the Seattle Seahawks. It is reportedly the second car he’s ever owned, and he still drives it every day, everywhere.
Poor Von Miller was the first super bowl MVP to miss out on winning a car after Hyundai took over sponsorship duties and broke tradition by discontinuing the MVP car giveaway in 2016. Miller, however, took a page out of Brady’s book and purchased a 2016 Ford Interceptor SUV which he then donated to the DeSoto Police Department in Texas.
The MVP of this year’s Super Bowl matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and (surprise) Tom Brady’s Patriots will not receive a car from Hyundai as reward. Instead, 2017 Pro Bowl MVPs Travis Kelce and Lorenzo Alexander each won a 2017 Hyundai Genesis for their performances. Congratulations, boys.