The unlikely Super Bowl MVPs include Doug Williams and Nick Foles.
Photo by George Rose/Getty Images (left), Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images (right)

The 8 Most Unlikely Super Bowl MVPs No One Saw Coming

The Super Bowl is by far the biggest stage in sports. More than 90 million people tune in to watch the final game of the NFL season each year. That means that all eyes are on the two teams that face off, which happen to be the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles in this year's showdown.

Inevitably, one player will be crowned Super Bowl MVP and receive the Pete Rozelle Trophy. Nobody has won the award more than Tom Brady, who's done it five times — four with the New England Patriots and once with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The only time co-MVPs were named was at Super Bowl XII, when Dallas Cowboys defensive stars Harvey Martin and Randy White won it.

You may remember plenty of other names to have won it, such as Joe Montana, Bart Starr and Terry Bradshaw, but how about the forgotten names who were the unlikeliest of heroes? The eight most unlikely Super Bowl MVPs were names nobody saw coming.

Fred Biletnikoff, Super Bowl XI

Fred Biletnikoff during the Super Bowl.

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Fred Biletnikoff was a legendary wide receiver who was inducted into both the College Football and Pro Football Hall of Fames, and rightfully so. His performance in Super Bowl XI with the Oakland Raiders, however, did not warrant any MVP consideration. His final stat line from that game: four catches for 79 yards and zero touchdowns. That's it. The receivers on my fantasy football bench put up better numbers than that. A much more worthy player could have been Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler, who threw for 180 yards and a touchdown, or Clarence Davis, who rushed for 137 yards on just 16 carries. Biletnikoff likely won MVP honors because of his name, one that is still attached to a prestigious college football award, but he didn't deserve it.

Santonio Holmes, Super Bowl XLIII

Santonio Homes catches a ball in the Super Bowl.

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Unlike Biletnikoff, Santonio Holmes 150% deserved it. There was that incredible catch with under a minute left in the game in the back of the end zone to help the Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Arizona Cardinals. He totaled nine catches for 131 yards and that touchdown. But he's on this list because he was never an overly spectacular receiver during his career. Even that season, he had never recorded more than 100 receiving yards in a game before doing so. The fact that he took over in the Steelers' final drive was improbable.

Dexter Jackson, Super Bowl XXXVII

Dexter Jackson intercepts a pass in the Super Bowl.

Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images

Our first "who the hell is that?" Jackson was a safety for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they beat the Oakland Raiders back in 2003. His two first-half interceptions helped pave the way for a 48-21 blowout. Jackson makes his way onto this list because he's one of the most forgettable Super Bowl MVPs out there. He never went to any Pro Bowls or anything and totaled just 20 career interceptions across his career. Two of them just happened to come on sports' biggest stage.

Tom Brady, Super Bowl XXXVI

Tom Brady celebrates beating the St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl.

Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

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This was the first of Brady's five Super Bowl MVPs. It was unlikely for a few reasons. He was a 24-year-old passer in his first full season as a starter for the New England Patriots. He was going up against a feared St. Louis Rams team that was favorited by 14 points thanks to the best season of Kurt Warner's career. Plus, Drew Bledsoe had replaced an injured Brady in the AFC Championship Game. No one was completely sure if Brady would start. Then there's the fact that Brady only threw for 145 yards and one touchdown. Nothing about this pick made sense.

Malcom Smith, Super Bowl XLVIII

Malcolm Smith celebrates the Seahawks' Super Bowl title.

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Not to take anything away from Malcolm Smith's pick-six, his fumble recovery or his 10 tackles against the Denver Broncos, but the Seattle Seahawks linebacker was an unknown up until this point. He had started just eight of the team's regular season games before playing the game of his life. The problem here is that safety Kam Chancellor would have been a better choice from the "Legion of Boom" defense.

Chuck Howley, Super Bowl V

Chuck Howley intercepts a pass in Super Bowl V.

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Chuck Howley will always be remembered for one thing: he's the only losing player to win Super Bowl MVP. The Baltimore Colts may have beaten the Dallas Cowboys, but it was Howley's two interceptions that made him the choice here. Howley wasn't unlikely for his talent — he was a five-time First-Team All-Pro selection — but the fact that he lost the game and he still won MVP might never happen again.

Nick Foles, Super Bowl LII

Nick Foles with the Lombardi Trophy after the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl win.

Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Everything about that Eagles playoff run was miraculous. When starter Carson Wentz injured his right knee in mid-December, many people stuck a fork in their season. The back-up stepped up and went 3-0 in the playoffs, including wins over Atlanta, Minnesota and out-dueled Tom Brady and the Patriots. Foles threw three touchdowns and even caught one. He deserved every ounce of that MVP trophy, but no one saw it coming.

Doug Williams, Super Bowl XXII

Doug Williams rears back to launch a pass during Super Bowl XXII.

Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images

Credit to Doug Williams for putting on one of the great performances in Super Bowl history when he took down John Elway's Broncos in 1988, becoming the first Black starting quarterback to win the big game. But his road to that point was one of the most unlikely and incredible stories. Before the regular season that year, Washington Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs actually told Williams he was being traded to the Raiders, and Williams (who was the back-up at the time) was thrilled to hear the news. Gibbs had a change of heart a few hours later because he "had a feeling" Williams would help the Redskins win a championship. That season was a mess in Washington's quarterback room. Aside from the fact that players went on strike that season, Washington changed starting quarterbacks five times in 12 non-strike games. Still, Williams was the guy in the end who threw four touchdowns and became a legend in Washington. His story undoubtedly makes him the unlikeliest Super Bowl MVP in history.

MORE: Doug Williams Etched His Name in NFL History as the First Black Quarterback to Win a Super Bowl