We here at Notinhalloffame.com thought it would be fun to take a look at the major awards in North American team sports and see how it translates into Hall of Fame potential.
Needless to say, different awards in different sports yield hall of fame potential. In basketball, the team sport with the least number of players on a roster, the dividend for greatness much higher. In baseball, it is not as much as a great individual season does not have the same impact.
Last time, we looked at the NFL MVP. As this often overlapped the Bert Bell Award, we thought we would take it a little easy, and go right to this one.
The Award is named after Bert Bell, who was the NFL Commissioner from 1946 to his death until 1959. It is voted on by the Maxwell Football Club, which comprises of NFL Owners, football personnel, coaches and media.
So how many Bert Bell Award winners have made the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
Let’s find out!
The following are the past players who have won the Bert Bell Award who are eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and have been enshrined.
Johnny Unitas, Baltimore Colts, Quarterback (1959)
Johnny Unitas led the Baltimore Colts to the NFL Championship, and in his fourth season in the NFL, he would take his team to back-to-back titles. This year, “Johnny U” led the NFL in Completions (193), Passing Yards (2,899), Touchdown Passes (32), and he was a First Team All-Pro for the second time. Unitas would also win the NFL MVP this season. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979.
Norm Van Brocklin, Philadelphia Eagles, Quarterback (1960)
Norm Van Brocklin was a grizzled veteran by this time, as he played for the Los Angeles Rams from 1949 to 1957, and he joined the Eagles in 1958. A Champion with the Rams in 1951, the 1960 campaign would see him go 10-2, with 2,471 Yards, and 24 Touchdowns. In what was his ninth Pro Bowl, he would go to his first and only First Team All-Pro, while also leading the Eagles to the NFL Championship. This was his last year as a player, as he hoped to be named the team’s head coach after. That didn’t happen, but he would take over as the HC for the Minnesota Vikings. Van Brocklin retired with a record of 61-36-4 with 23,611 Yards and 173 Touchdowns. He would also win the AP MVP this year. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1971.
Paul Hornung, Green Bay Packers, Halfback & Kicker (1961)
A former Heisman Trophy winner from Notre Dame, Paul Hornung played his entire with the Green Bay Packers, and in 1960, he rushed for 597 Yards. The Packers would also win the NFL Championship that year, and he was also rewarded with the NFL AP. Hornung played until 1966, and won three more titles with Green Bay. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986.
Andy Robustelli, New York Giants, Defensive End (1962)
In his tenth season in the NFL, Andy Robustelli became the first defensive player to win the Bert Bell Award. The Defensive End was already a two-time NFL Champion (1951 with Los Angeles, 1956 with New York) and he would already go to seven Pro Bowls and was chosen for six First Team All-Pros. Curiously, this year he was neither a Pro Bowl, nor a First Team All-Pro, and he would never win those awards again, as he played only two more seasons. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1971.
Jim Brown, Cleveland Browns, Running Back (1963)
By 1963, Jim Brown had already won the AP MVP twice and the UPI MVP once, and in 1963 he would secure his sixth Rushing Title. While he was not awarded the AP MVP this year, the Bert Bell Award was his, and it came in his best statistical season. Brown rushed for a career-high of 1,863 Rushing Yards, and he led the NFL in 12 Rushing Touchdowns. Brown played two more seasons, winning the NFL Championship in 1964 and capturing his third AP MVP and UPI MVP in 1965, which would be his final season, as the Running Back would abruptly retire. He would finish his career with 12,312 Rushing Yards, which was then the all-time record. In the nine seasons he played, Brown was a Pro Bowl in all of them, and a First Team All-Pro in eight. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1971.
Johnny Unitas, Baltimore Colts, Quarterback (2) (1964)
This season, Unitas took his team to the NFL Championship, though they would fall to the Cleveland Browns in an upset. Regardless, this was a stellar regular season for the “Golden Arm”, as Unitas was chosen for his third First Team All-Pro and he threw for 19 TDs against only 6 Interceptions. Unitas also went 12-2 with 2,824 Yards. Also the AP MVP this season, Unitas became the first repeat Bert Bell Award winner. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979.
Johnny Unitas, Baltimore Colts, Quarterback (3) (1967)
Arguably, this is the last great season of Unitas’s career, who would play until 1973, with one forgettable year in San Diego. 1967 saw him go to his tenth Pro Bowl and fifth First Team All-Pro, both of which would be his last. Also winning the AP MVP this year, Unitas threw for 20 Touchdowns and 3,428 Yards, and for the first and only time in his career, he led the NFL in Completion Percentage (58.5). When he retired, he had a record of 118-63-4, 40,239 Passing Yards and 290 Touchdowns. He is a member of the 1960s All-Decade Team, 75thAnniversary Team and 100thAnniversary Team. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979.
Leroy Kelly, Cleveland Browns, Running Back (1968)
It is impossible to follow Jim Brown in the Browns backfield, but Leroy Kelly did a pretty good job. Kelly was a First Team All-Pro in 1966 and repeated that in both 1967 and 1968. Kelly won the Rushing Title in both ’67 and ’68, with the latter seeing him put up personal highs in both categories (1,239 Rushing Yards and 16 Rushing Touchdowns). Kelly also led the NFL in All-Purpose Yards (1,536) and Touchdowns (20). He played until 1973 (all with Cleveland), and he retired with 7,274 Rushing Yards, 9,555 All-Purpose Yards and 87 Touchdowns. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994.
George Blanda, Oakland Raiders, Kicker (1970)
The first Oakland Raider to win the Bert Bell Award, George Blanda seemed to earn a lifetime achievement award as this was not exactly a banner year for the former Quarterback/Kicker. Blanda began his career in 1949, and he was a four-time Pro Bowl Selection prior to winning this honor. Blanda was 43 years old, and was mostly used just as a Place Kicker at this point and as awesome as his overall career was, he was not realistically among the top 100 players in football at this point. Blanda played until 1975, and he was named the Man of the Year in 1974. While we have major respect for Blanda, this was a horrific choice for 1970 and it cheapened the award. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1981.
Roger Staubach, Dallas Cowboys, Quarterback (1971)
Roger Staubach became the second Cowboys Quarterback to win Bert Bell Award and he did so in his third year in the NFL. This season, the Cowboys would win their first Super Bowl, with “Captain Comeback” winning the Super Bowl MVP. During the regular season, the former Navy star had 15 Touchdown passes, 1,882 Passing Yards, and finished first in Quarterback Rating (104.8). The Quarterback played his entire career with Dallas and he would throw for 22,700 Passing Yards with 153 Touchdowns. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985.
O.J. Simpson, Buffalo Bills, Running Back (1973)
The accomplishments of O.J. Simpson in 1973 was at its time in the stratosphere. The Running Back became the first player to exceed 2,000 Yards on the ground (2,003) and he also led the NFL in Rushing Touchdowns (12) and Yards from Scrimmage (2,073). Simpson also won the AP MVP, NEA MVP and the Offensive Player of the Year. This was the second of what would be four Rushing Titles, and he finished his career in 1979 with 11,236 Rushing Yards and 94 Touchdowns, with another 14 TDs coming from the air. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985.
Merlin Olsen, Los Angeles Rams, Defensive Tackle (1974)
Merlin Olsen debuted in 1962 and was a Pro Bowl that season. He would repeat that accolade every year until his final season in 1976. Becoming the first Defensive Tackle to win the Bert Bell Award, this feels more like a “Lifetime Achievement Award” as this was well past his five straight seasons of being a First Team All-Pro (1966-70), though this was still a good season for the native of Utah. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982.
Fran Tarkenton, Minnesota Vikings, Quarterback(1975)
The best scrambling Quarterback of the 1970s, Fran Tarkenton would lead the NFL in Completions (273) and Touchdown Passes (25) with 2,994 Yards. He would also win the AP MVP this year. This was his eighth of nine Pro Bowl Selections, and he would finish his career with 47,003 Yards and 342 Touchdowns, while also rushing for 3,674 Yards and another 32 TDs. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986.
Ken Stabler, Oakland Raiders, Quarterback (1976)
Two years before, Ken Stabler won the AP MVP, NEA MVP and the Offensive Player of the Year. While “The Snake” did not in any of those this season (nor was he even a First Team All-Pro), he was s till a Pro Bowler, led the NFL in Touchdown Passes (27), and more importantly led the Oakland Raiders to a Super Bowl win. He stayed with Oakland until 1979, and played five more years with the New Orleans Saints before retiring. He would have 27,938 Passing Yards with 194 Touchdowns. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016.
Bob Griese, Miami Dolphins, Quarterback (1977)
The two Super Bowls were behind him, but Bob Griese still had a lot left in a career spent entirely with the Miami Dolphins. This season, Griese led the NFL in Passing Touchdowns (22) and Passer Rating (87.8) while throwing for 2,252 Yards. He would be named a First Team All-Pro for the second and final time and was a Pro Bowl for the fifth of what would be six selections. He ended his career in 1980m and would accumulate 25,092 Yards with 192 TDs. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990.
Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh Steelers, Quarterback (1978)
You win a lot of games when you have as good a defense as Terry Bradshaw had with the Steel Curtain, but don’t mistake that for the Quarterback not doing his fair share. Playing his entire career (1970-83) with Pittsburgh, Bradshaw won four Super Bowls, with 1978 being his third. This season, he would lead the NFL in Touchdown Passes (28) with 2,915 Passing Yards, and would win the AP MVP. He retired in 1983 with 27,989 Passing Yards and 212 TDs. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989.
Earl Campbell, Houston Oilers, Running Back (1979)
Coming out of the University of Texas, Earl Campbell was the best Running Back in the first three years of his NFL career, all of which seeing him win the Rushing Title and Offensive Player of the Year. 1979 was the second of those seasons, and in addition to leading the NFL in Rushing Yards (1,697) and also first in Rushing Touchdowns (19). He also won the AP MVP this year. Campbell would play until 1985 and would have 10,213 Yards from Scrimmage with 74 Touchdowns over his career. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991.
John Riggins, Washington Redskins, Running Back (1983)
You are not supposed to have your best year as a Running Back at age 34 but that is precisely what John Riggins did as a member of the Washington Redskins in 1983. This year, he would run the ball into the end zone 24 times, well ahead of any other Back. Rushing for 1,347 Yards this year, he was a First Team All-Pro, and would take Washington to a Super Bowl appearance. He retired in 1985 with 11,352 career Rushing Yards and 104 TDs. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992.
Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins, Quarterback (1984)
Playing his entire career with the Miami Dolphins, this was the second season that Dan Marino was in the NFL. This year, he shattered the Passing Yards record with 5,084, making him the first QB to hit the 5,000 mark. He also threw for 48 Touchdowns, destroying Y.A. Tittle’s 36 in 1963. Marino was also first in Quarterback rating (108.9), Approximate Value (21), Completions (362), and also won the AP MVP. The Dolphin pivot would lead the NFL in Passing Yards four more times, and after he retired in 1999, he would have 61,361 Yards with 420 Touchdowns. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.
Walter Payton, Chicago Bears, Running Back (1985)
This was the year of the Super Bowl Shuffle and the Bears first title in the Super Bowl era. It was Walter Payton, who had been their top offensive weapon for a decade that would win the Bert Bell Awards, and he would also capture his fifth and final selection to the First Team All-Pro roster. He played two more years, and retired with what was then an all-time Rushing Yard record of 16,726. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993.
Lawrence Taylor, New York Giants, Linebacker (1986)
Arguably the greatest Linebacker of all time, Lawrence Taylor debuted in 1981, where he began a six-year streak of First Team All-Pro Selections. This season, Taylor would lead the NFL in Quarterback Sacks (20.5) and won his third Defensive Player of the Year Award. Taylor also won the AP MVP. He would take the Giants to a Super Bowl win this year, and again four years later. Taylor played his entire career with the Giants, and would play in 10 Pro Bowls and recorded 132.5 Sacks over his career. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999.
Jerry Rice, San Francisco 49ers, Wide Receiver(1987)
Also, the Offensive Player of the Year, Jerry Rice was on his third season in the NFL, and would earn his second of ten First Team All-Pro Selections. Rice led the NFL in Receiving Yards the year before, and while his 1,078 Yards seems low, he had a career-high and league-leading 22 Touchdown Receptions. He would go on to win three Super Bowls with the 49ers and five more Receiving Yards Titles. He finished his career with three and a half seasons in Oakland, and a half-year in Seattle. Rice is the all-time leader in Receiving Yards (22,895) and a Receiving Touchdowns (197). Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010.
Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers, Quarterback (1989)
You would have thought that Joe Montana would have won an MVP by now considering that prior to 1989, he had already won three Super Bowls with five Pro Bowls and a First Team All-Pro. “Joe Cool” also had already led the NFL in Touchdown passes twice and Completion Percentage four times. This year, Montana would win his fourth Super Bowl, was again a First Team All-Pro, an AP MVP and Pro Bowl, and he again led the league in Completion Percentage (70.2). Montana also threw for 3,521 Passing Yards and 26 TDs. He played two final seasons in the league with the Kansas City Chiefs, and retired in 1994. He left the game with 40,551 Passing Yards and 273 Touchdown Passes. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000.
Barry Sanders, Detroit Lions, Running Back (1991)
Barry Sanders won his first Rushing Title in 1990, and in 1991 he was second with 1,548. This year saw Sanders lead the NFL Rushing Touchdowns (16), and he would be named to his second of what would be six First Team All-Pros. Sanders, who spent his entire career in Detroit, was also a Pro Bowler, but there was never a season in the NFL where he wasn’t. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004.
Steve Young, San Francisco 49ers, Quarterback (1992)
While Steve Young was the starting Quarterback for the 49ers in 1991, 1992 was the year where he proved he should be. Young led the NFL in Completion Percentage (66.7), Touchdown Passes (25) and Quarterback Rating (107.0), and would go to his first of seven straight Pro Bowls. This year, he was also named the AP MVP. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.
Emmitt Smith, Dallas Cowboys, Running Back (1993)
Emmitt Smith and the Dallas Cowboys won the Super Bowl the year before, and in 1993 he won his third straight Rushing Title with 1,486 Yards. Smith was also first in Yards from Scrimmage (1,900) and he also won the Bert Bell Award. Dallas would win the Super Bowl with Smith winning the Super Bowl MVP. Smith would be named to the next two First Team All-Pros and secured a third Super Bowl ring two later, which coincided with his fourth Rushing Title. The Running Back played for Dallas until 2002, and had two final seasons with the Arizona Cardinals before he called it a career in 2004. He retired with 18,355 Rushing Yards and 164 Rushing Touchdowns, which makes him first all-time. Smith is also second all-time in All-Purpose Yards with 21,579. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010.
Steve Young, San Francisco 49ers, Quarterback (2) (1994)
In 1993, Young was again a First Team All-Pro, and was also named the AP MVP. Young led the NFL in Completion Percentage (70.3), 35 Passing Touchdowns and QB Rating (112.8). Young would also lead San Francisco to a Super Bowl win this year. He would have three more seasons where he finished first in Completion Percentage, one more in Touchdown Passes, and two more in QB Rating. Young played until 1999, and retired with 33,124 Passing Yards, 232 Touchdown Passes, 4,239 Rushing Yards and 43 Rushing TDs. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.
Brett Favre, Green Bay Packers, Quarterback (1995)
After four attempts (with no completions) for the Atlanta Falcons in 1992, Brett Favre joined the Green Bay Packers where he went to the Pro Bowl in both 1992 and 1993. In 1995, “The Gunslinger” earned his third Pro Bowl, his first First Team All-Pro, and he would lead the NFL in Passing Yards (4,413), Touchdown Passes (38), and he also won the Bert Bell Award. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016.
Brett Favre, Green Bay Packers (2), Quarterback (1996)
Favre had another phenomenal year where he went to Pro Bowl number four, First Team All-Pro number two, and again won the MVP and the Bert Bell Award. Statistically, he led the NFL in Touchdown Passes (39) with 3,899 Passing Yards, and he would lead the Packers to a Super Bowl win. Favre would have four more Pro Bowls with Green Bay, one with the Jets, and one with the Vikings and retired in 2010. He would finish his career with 71,838 Passing Yards and 508 Touchdown Passes. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016.
Barry Sanders, Detroit Lions, Running Back (2)(1997)
This was the most productive season of Barry Sanders career, where he won his fourth Rushing Title with a career-high 2,053 Rushing Yards. He also rushed for 11 Touchdowns, and was first overall in Yards from Scrimmage with 2,358 (also a career-high). Sanders would also win the AP MVP, and was the Offensive Player of the Year for the second time. Sanders played one more season, retiring in his prime at 30, and he was named to the Pro Bowl in all 10 of his years in the NFL. He ended his career with 15,269 Rushing Yards, 2,921 Receiving Yards and 109 Touchdowns. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004.
Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams, Quarterback (1999)
1999 was the improbable season ever for a Quarterback. Kurt Warner went from Northern Iowa to bagging groceries to the Arena League and then to the NFL, where he won the back-up job to Trent Green, which in itself was a huge accomplishment. Green would be injured in the preseason, and Warner was the starting QB, and he made the most of his opportunity. The leader of the “Greatest Show on Turf”, Warner would throw for 4,353 Yards and lead the NFL in Completion Percentage (65.1), Touchdown Passes (41) and Quarterback Rating (109.2). Warner would then lead the Rams to a Super Bowl Championship. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017.
Marshall Faulk, St. Louis Rams, Running Back (2001)
Faulk joined the Rams in 1999, and he helped Kurt Warner and the Rams win the Super Bowl and was the Offensive Player of the Year. In his 2000 AP MVP season, Faulk led the NFL with 18 Rushing Touchdowns, 26 Total Touchdowns and had 2,189 Yards from Scrimmage. This year would see Faulk win the Bert Bell Award and the Offensive Player of the Year with 2,147 All-Purpose Yard season with a league-leading 21 Touchdowns. He played until 2005, accumulating six Pro Bowls, three First Team All-Pros, 12,279 Rushing Yards, 6,875 Passing Yards and 136 Touchdowns. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011.
LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers, Running Back (2006)
Debuting in 2001, Tomlinson would have 1,236 Rushing Yards, which would be the least he would have until 2008. This year, he would win his fourth of five Pro Bowls, second of three First Team All-Pro, and his first of two Rushing Titles with 1,815. He would also lead the NFL in Rushing Touchdowns (28) and Touchdowns (31). Tomlinson also won the PFWA MVP, NEA MVP, AP MVP, Offensive Player of the Year and Walter Payton Man of the Year. Damn, what a season! Tomlinson played with the Chargers until 2009, and he would have two final seasons in football with the New York Jets. His career ended with 13,684 Rushing Touchdowns, 4,772 Receiving Touchdowns and 153 Touchdowns. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017.
The following are the players who have won the Bert Bell Award in the NFL who are eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and have not been selected:
Pete Retzlaff, Philadelphia Eagles, Tight End (1965)
Pete Retzlaff would become the first Tight End to win the Bert Bell Award, and this was the first year (and only) that he would be named a First Team All-Pro. He would have 1,190 Receiving Yards, 10 Touchdowns, and he would play one more season before calling it a career. Retzlaff had 7,412 Receiving Yards and 47 TDs. Eligible Since 1972. Ranked #110 on Notinhalloffame.com.
Don Meredith, Dallas Cowboys, Quarterback (1966)
The first of what would be many popular Quarterbacks in Dallas Cowboy history, Don Meredith broke out in 1966. This would be his first of three Pro Bowl seasons, and he would throw for a career-high 2,805 Passing Yards and 24 Passing Touchdowns. Meredith was not a First Team All-Pro this year, nor would he ever be one. He retired after 1968 with 17,199 career Passing Yards and 135 TDs. Eligible Since 1974. Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com
Roman Gabriel, Los Angeles Rams, Quarterback (1969)
The first Filipino-American star in football, Roman Gabriel was the number one pick in the 1963 Draft, but he did not become the permanent starting Quarterback for the Rams until 1966. He would ascend into the upper-tier of NFL pivots, and he went to the Pro Bowl each year from 1967 to 1969, and in ’69, he would lead the league in Touchdown Passes (24), and he also threw for 2,549 Yards. Gabriel would also win the AP MVP this year. Gabriel would later join the Philadelphia Eagles, winning the Comeback Player of the Year in 1973. He played until 1977, and retired with 29,444 Passing Yards and 201 Touchdowns. Eligible Since 1982. Ranked #38 on Notinhalloffame.com.
Larry Brown, Washington Redskins, Running Back(1972)
In the first four years of Larry Brown’s career, he was one of the better Running Backs in the NFL. Brown, who had won the Rushing Title in 1970, would not do so in 1972, but would put up a career-high in Rushing Yards in 1972. That season, he also had another 473 Receiving Yards, and was first in the league in Yards From Scrimmage (1,689). Brown regressed after that, and he retired in 1975 with 8,360 Yards from Scrimmage with 55 TDs. Brown also was named the AP MVP this season. Eligible Since 1982. Ranked #160 on Notinhalloffame.com.
Ron Jaworski, Philadelphia Eagles, Quarterback(1980)
After three seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, Jaworski was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles, where he became the starting Quarterback. 1980 was the only Pro Bowl season for “Jaws”, and he threw for 27 Touchdowns and 3,529 Yards, while leading Philadelphia to their first NFC Title. He played with the Eagles until 1986, and had brief stints in Miami and Kansas City before retiring in 1989 with 28,190 career Passing Yards and 179 Touchdowns. Eligible Since 1995. Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com.
Ken Anderson, Cincinnati Bengals, Quarterback (1981)
Ken Anderson is considered by most Bengals fans to be the most important player in franchise history, and the biggest Hall of Fame snub. Anderson spent his entire career with the Bengals (1971-86) and in 1981, he would go to his third of four Pro Bowls and took Cincinnati to their first Super Bowl. In the regular season, Anderson threw for 29 Touchdowns, 3,754 Yards, and was also the AP MVP. He played until 1986, and retired with 32,838 Yards with 197 TDs. Eligible Since 1982. Ranked #12 on Notinhalloffame.com.
Joe Theismann, Washington Redskins, Quarterback(1982)
This was the strike-shortened season, and the first of two Pro Bowl years for the Redskins’ Quarterback. Theismann would have 13 Touchdown Passes, 2,033 Yards, and take the Redskins to a Super Bowl win. Theismann actually had a better 1983, winning the AP MVP, and returning to the Super Bowl, but this time they lost. A few seasons later, a gruesome leg injury at the hands of the Giants’ Lawrence Taylor would end his career, and Theismann retired with 25,206 Passing Yards and 160 Touchdowns. Eligible Since 1991. Unranked on Notinhalloffame.com.
Randall Cunningham, Philadelphia Eagles, Quarterback (1988)
As football evolves, you would see more Quarterbacks become more mobile. Randall Cunningham was a pioneer of that skill, and in 1988, the Eagles QB would be chosen for his first Pro Bowl with 3,808 Passing Yards and 24 TDs, while also rushing for 624 Yards and 6 TDs. Eligible Since 2003. Ranked #36 on Notinhalloffame.com.
Randall Cunningham, Philadelphia Eagles, Quarterback (2) (1990)
Since his first Bert Bell Award win, Randall Cunningham remained the most exciting QB in football. This season, the Eagles pivot would rush for 942 Yards and five TDs, and in the air he had 3,466 Yards with 30 TDs. Eligible Since 2003. Ranked #36 on Notinhalloffame.com.
Randall Cunningham, Minnesota Vikings, Quarterback (3) (1998)
Cunningham is one of two multi-time Bert Bell winners to not be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and he is a three-time recipient, the first player to achieve that. In the eight years between his second and third Bert Bell win, he dealt with injuries and was retired in 1996. He came back in 1997 for the Minnesota Vikings as a backup, and he was their starter in 1998, the year where he was named a First Team All-Pro for the only time in his career. Cunningham threw for 3,704 Yards, 34 Touchdowns, and he led the NFL in Passer Rating (106.0). He played three more seasons and retired with 29,979 Yards, 207 TDs, and rushed for 4,927 Yards and another 35 TDs on the ground. Eligible Since 2003. Ranked #36 on Notinhalloffame.com.
Rich Gannon, Oakland Raiders, Quarterback (2000)
In 2000, Gannon was chosen for his second Pro Bowl and at age 35 he was a First Team All-Pro for the first time in his career. He threw for 28 Touchdowns and 3,420 Yards this season. Eligible Since 2010. Ranked #290 on Notinhalloffame.com.
Rich Gannon, Oakland Raiders, Quarterback (2) (2002)
This was year four of Rich Gannon’s four year run of Pro Bowls, and this season he would lead the NFL in Completions (418) and Passing Yards (4,689) while throwing for 26 Touchdowns. Gannon took the Raiders to the Super Bowl, but they were destroyed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Gannon would get hurt the following season, and only played one more year before retiring in 2004 with 28,743 Passing Yards with 180 Touchdowns. Eligible Since 2010. Ranked #290 on Notinhalloffame.com.
Shaun Alexander, Seattle Seahawks, Running Back (2005)
Alexander was a Pro Bowl for the third (and final) and he would lead the NFL in Rushing Yards (1,880), Rushing Touchdowns (27), and Touchdowns (28). The Running Back also won the Offensive Player of the Year and the AP MVP. He would play with the Seahawks until 2007, and had one final year with the Redskins before retiring. He left the game with 9,453 Rushing Yards and 100 Rushing Touchdowns. Eligible Since 2014. Ranked #100 on Notinhalloffame.com.
Let’s update our tally, shall we?
Award in Question
Percentage of recipients who have entered the HOF
Percentage of recipients by year who have entered the HOF.
NBA All Star Game MVP
NHL Conn Smythe
NFL Bert Bell Award
NFL AP Offensive Player of the Year
NFL AP MVP
NHL Lady Byng
NFL Defensive Player of the Year
NFL Super Bowl MVP
NBA Defensive Player of the Year
NBA Rookie of the Year
NFL Pro Bowl MVP
MLB Lou Gehrig Award
MLB Roberto Clemente Award
MLB/NL/AL Cy Young Award
MLB Babe Ruth Award
NHL Frank J. Selke Trophy
MLB Hutch Award
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year
NHL Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy
MLB Edgar Martinez Award
MLB (NL/AL) Silver Slugger (Designated Hitter)
MLB (NL/AL) Silver Slugger (Shortstop)
MLB (NL/AL) Gold Glove
NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year
MLB (NL/AL) Silver Slugger (Catcher)
MLB (NL/AL) Gold Glove (Second Base)
MLB (NL/AL) Gold Glove (Shortstop)
MLB (NL/AL) Silver Slugger (Pitcher)
MLB (NL/AL) Silver Slugger (Second Base)
MLB (NL/AL) Gold Glove (Outfield)
MLB (NL/AL) Silver Slugger (Outfield)
MLB (NL/AL) Gold Glove (Third Base)
MLB (NL/AL) Silver Slugger (Third Base)
MLB (NL/AL) Silver Slugger (First Base)
MLB (NL/AL) Rookie of the Year
MLB (NL/AL) Gold Glove (Catcher)
NBA Most Improved Player of the Year
MLB (NL/AL) Gold Glove (First Base)
NFL AP Comeback Player of the Year
So, who is up next?
The following are the players who have won the Bert Bell Award in the NFL who have retired but have not met the mandatory years out of the game to qualify for the Pro Football Hall of Fame:
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts, Quarterback (2003)
Peyton Manning was in his sixth season in the NFL, and he would have his fourth Pro Bowl year. Manning would be named a First Team All-Pro for the first time, and he would lead the league in Completions (379), Completion Percentage (67.0), Passing Yards (4,267) and he would throw for 29 Touchdowns. Manning also won the NEA MVP and AP MVP this season. Eligible in 2021.
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts, Quarterback (2) (2004)
Peyton Manning went back-to-back, also securing a First Team All-Pro and a fifth Pro Bowl. Manning finished first in Touchdown Passes (49) and Quarterback Rating (121.1), and he threw for 4,557 Yards. In this season, Manning would also win the PFWA MVP, NEA MVP, Offensive Player of the Year, and the AP MVP. Eligible in 2021.
Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles, Quarterback (2) (2010)
It didn’t happen in Atlanta, but after missing two years due to being incarcerated for a dog fighting ring, but Michael Vick finally won his first individual award as a Philadelphia Eagle, which was his first year as a starter. Vick threw for 3,018 Yards, 21 Touchdowns and would rush for 676 Yards and 6 TDs. Vick played until 2015, after finishing his career with the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers, and he would have 6,109 Rushing Yards, 36 Rushing Touchdowns, 22,464 Passing Yards and 133 Passing Touchdowns. Eligible in 2021.
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos, Quarterback (5) (2013)
It still seems strange to type Peyton Manning as a Denver Bronco, and he would have a monster regular season with a league-leading 450 Completions, 5,477 Passing Yards, 55 Touchdown Passes and a 80.9 QBR. He would also capture the PFWA MVP, Offensive Player of the Year and AP MVP this season. Manning played until 2015, and while he was not great, the Broncos defense allowed him to go on top as a Super Bowl Champion. He retired with 71,940 Passing Yards and 539 Passing Touchdowns. Eligible in 2021.
The following are the players who have won the AP MVP who are still active.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots, Quarterback (2007)
Tom Brady already won three Super Bowls (with two Super Bowl MVPs) before he secured his first AP MVP. This was the year of the bittersweet season where the Pats entered the Super Bowl undefeated, only to lose to Eli Manning and the New York Giants. Still, it was an incredible year, where the Patriots’ Quarterback led the league in Completion Percentage (68.9), Passing Yards (4,806), Touchdown Passes (50), Passer Rating (117.2) and QBR (88.5). Brady also would win the PFWA MVP, NEA MVP, AP MVP and Offensive Player of the Year this season. 42 Years Old, Playing for the New England Patriots.
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings, Running Back (2008)
In 2008, Adrian Peterson would win the first of what would be three Rushing Titles with 1,760, and also secured his first Yards from Scrimmage Title (1,885). He had 10 TDs that year. 34 Years Old, Playing for the Washington Redskins.
Drew Brees, Green Bay Packers, Quarterback (2009)
For the fourth time in his career, Drew Brees was named to the Pro Bowl and for the first time in his career he was first in Completion Percentage (70.6) and for the second time he was atop the leaderboard in Touchdown Passes (34). Also throwing for 4,388 Yards, Brees would take New Orleans to the promised land and they would win their first ever Super Bowl. 41 Years Old, Playing for the New Orleans Saints.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers, Quarterback (2011)
This was Aaron Rodgers’ seventh season in the NFL but only his fourth as the Packers starter. Rodgers won the Super Bowl the year before, and this season he would finish first in Passer Rating (122.5) and QBR (84.5), while throwing for 45 Touchdowns, and accumulating 4,643 Passing Yards. He would also win the PFWA MVP and AP MVP. 36 Years Old, Playing for the Green Bay Packers.
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings, Running Back (2) (2012)
Adrian Peterson would be named to four First Team All-Pro selections, this being his third. Peterson also won three Rushing Titles, with this season being the best one (and second), with him going for 2,097 Yards. The Minnesota Viking also finished first in All-Purpose Yards with 2,314, and he secured 13 Touchdowns this year. 34 Years Old, Playing for the Washington Redskins.
J.J. Watt, Houston Texans, Defensive End (2014)
The first Houston Texan to win the Bert Bell Award, J.J. Watt also won his second Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2014. This season, he had his second 20 plus Sack year, and would lead the NFL in Tackles for Loss (29). He would win his third Defensive Player of the Year in 2015 and also was awarded the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2017. 30 Years Old, Playing for the Houston Texans.
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers, Quarterback (2015)
Cam Newton was the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2011, and this season, in addition to his AP MVP, he also won the AP MVP and was the Offensive Player of the Year. Stat wise, Newton threw for 35 Touchdowns, 3,837 Yards, and rushed for 636 Yards and 10 TDs. He took Carolina to the Super Bowl, but they lost to the Denver Broncos. 30 Years Old, Playing for the Carolina Panthers.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons, Quarterback (2016)
The first Atlanta Falcon to win the AP MVP, Matt Ryan would lead the NFL in Passer Rating (117.1) and QBR (79.4). He would also throw for 4,944 Yards with 38 Touchdowns. This year, he would also win the Offensive Player of the Year and the AP MVP. Ryan would take the Falcons to the Super Bowl, but they lost to the New England Patriots. 34 Years Old, Playing for the Atlanta Falcons.
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles, Quarterback(2017)
From North Dakota State, Carson Wentz broke out with a 33 Touchdown and 3,296 Passing Yard season. This was only through 13 Games, as he suffered an injury, and was unable to complete the year, but Nick FOles stepped in, and the Eagles won their first Super Bowl. 27 Years Old, Playing for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs, Quarterback (2018)
After playing backup as a rookie, Patrick Mahomes took over the starting Quarterback job for the Chiefs and he instantly became one of the most exciting players in the NFL. Mahomes would lead the NFL in Touchdown Passes (50) and QBR (80.4), and he would throw for 5,097 Yards. This season, he would also win the Offensive Player of the Year and AP MVP. 24 Years Old, Playing for the Kansas City Royals.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens, Quarterback(2019)
Jackson was money in his second season. Leading the NFL with 36 Touchdown Passes against only 6 Interceptions. Jackson would throw for 3,127 Yards, and rush for another 1,206 and led the NFL Yards per Rushing Attempt. He also broke the plane with his legs on seven occasions. Jackson also captured the AP MVP. 23 Years Old, Playing for the Baltimore Ravens.
This did generate a high amount of Hall of Famers, but as it feels a little more arbitrary than the AP MVP, it is a shock that its HOF Percentage was higher than the AP MVP.
So, what is up next?
As we are writing this, we are inspired by Baseball’s spring training, so here is the World Series MVP.
As always, we thank you for your support, and look for that soon.