MVPs and championships in the four major sports (Part 2)

Yesterday, saw the first part of my look at the connection between MVPs and championships in the four major North American sports. Now, the second and final part will look at multi-time winners of both, as well as totals and the unluckiest MVPs who never won a championship.

Note: Any gaps in career span in all tables below are seasons that a player was either retired, completely missed due to injury, was not playing professionally due to WWII/other reasons or there was a lockout.

Players with multiple MVPs and Championships


Only nine players in NBA history have multiple MVPs and Championships. Three of these players won their championships with multiple teams, Kareem (5 Lakers, 1 Bucks), LeBron (2 Cavs, 2 Heat) and Wilt (1 76ers, 1 Lakers).

Player Position Career Span # of MVPs # of Championships
Kareem Abdul Jabbar C 1969-1989 6 6
Bill Russell C 1956-1969 5 11
Michael Jordan SG/SF 1984-93, 1994-98, 2001-03 5 6
LeBron James SF/PF 2003- 4 3
Wilt Chamberlain C 1959-1973 4 2
Magic Johnson PG/SG 1979-91, 1995-96 3 5
Larry Bird PF/SF 1979-1992 3 3
Tim Duncan PF/C 1997-2016 2 5
Steph Curry PG 2009- 2 3


Only five players in NFL history have won multiple MVPs and championships (NFL Championship + Super Bowls), with all of them being quarterbacks. The fact that Montana and Young were on the same team from 1987 to 1992 is definitely a historical outlier. Manning (1 Colts, 1 Broncos) is the only one to win his championships with different teams.

Player Position Career # of MVPs # of Championships
Peyton Manning QB 1998-2010, 2012-15 5 2
Tom Brady QB 2000- 3 5
Johnny Unitas QB 1956-1973 3 3
Joe Montana QB 1979-1990, 1992-94 2 4
Steve Young QB 1985-1999 2 3


Only 14 players in NHL have won multiple Hart trophies and Stanley Cups. Dominik Hasek is the only goalie to have accomplished this. Mark Messier is the only one to win his championships with multiple teams (Oilers 5, Rangers 1).

*Howe played in the rival World Hockey Association (WHA) from 1973-79 and won two Avco Cups (in addition to his 4 Stanley Cups) with the Houston Aeros in 1974 and 1975.

Players Position Career # of MVPs # Of Champ
Wayne Gretzky C 1978-1999 9 4
Gordie Howe RW 1946-71, 1973-80 6 4*
Eddie Shore D 1926-1940 4 2
Howie Morenz C 1923-1937 3 3
Bobby Orr D 1966-77, 1978-79 3 2
Bobby Clarke C 1969-1984 3 2
Mario Lemieux C 1984-97, 2000-04, 2005-06 3 2
Jean Beliveau C 1950-51, 1952-71 2 10
Mark Messier LW/C 1978-2004 2 6
Guy Lafleur RW 1971-85, 1988-91 2 5
Sidney Crosby C 2005- 2 3
Bill Cowley C 1934-1947 2 2
Phil Esposito C 1963-1981 2 2
Dominik Hasek G 1990-2002, 2003-04, 2005-08 2 2


Only 13 MLB players have won multiple MVPs and World Series Championships. Five of these players (Gehrig, DiMaggio, Berra, Mantle, and Maris) all played for the New York Yankees.

Player (AL) Position Career Span # of MVP (League) # of Champ
Jimmie Foxx 1B/3B/C 1925-42, 1944-45 3 (NL) 2
Joe DiMaggio CF 1936-42, 1946-51 3 (NL) 9
Stan Musial OF/1B 1941-44, 1946-63 3 (AL) 3
Yogi Berra C/OF 1946-63, 1965 3 (NL) 10
Mickey Mantle CF/1B 1951-1968 3 (NL) 7
Albert Pujols 1B/LF/3B 2001- 3 (AL) 2
Lou Gehrig 1B 1923-1939 2 (NL) 6
Mickey Cochrane C 1925-1937 2 (NL) 3
Hank Greenberg 1B/LF 1930, 1933-41, 1945-47 2 (NL) 2
Frank Robinson OF/1B 1956-1976 2 (AL and NL) 2
Roger Maris RF 1957-1968 2 (NL) 3
Joe Morgan 2B 1963-1984 2 (AL) 2
Johnny Bench C/3B/1B 1967-1983 2 (AL) 2


Totals and takeaways

Sport # of players to win MVP Players with multiple MVPs MVPs who won a championship MVPs without championship MVP never played in championship
NFL 47* 9 (19.14%) 25 (53.19%) 22 (46.80%) 9 (19.14%)
NBA 33 13 (39.39%) 26 (78.78%) 7 (21.21%) 2 (6.06%)
NHL 58 18 (31.03%) 46 (79.31%) 12 (20.68%) 6 (10.34%)
MLB (Total) 151* 31* (20.52%) 94* (62.91%) 57 (37.7%) 29 (19.20%)
MLB (NL) 77* 12 49 28 13
MLB (AL) 75 18 46 29 16

*In 1997 (Brett Farve and Barry Sanders) and 2003 (Peyton Manning and Steve McNair) both won that year’s MVP award as they finished in a tie.

*In 1979 the NL MVP race ended in a tie with Keith Hernandez and Willie Stargell sharing the award.

*Frank Robinson counted once towards number of players to win MVP for NL and AL. Only counted once for MLB total, hence the one player difference. Same for MVPs who won a championship. Also counted for multi-MVP total since he has one from both leagues.

C MVP 4 Sports

MVP Winners with 7+ Championships, plus top two for the NFL

Player Sport Career Span # of MVPs # of Championships
Bill Russell NBA 1956-1969 5 11
Yogi Berra MLB (AL) 1946-63, 1965 3 10
Jean Beliveau NHL 1950-1971 2 10
Joe DiMaggio MLB (AL) 1936-42, 1946-51 3 9
Maurice Richard NHL 1942-1960 1 8
Mickey Mantle MLB (AL) 1951-1968 3 7
Babe Ruth MLB (AL) 1914-1935 1 7
Phil Rizzuto MLB (AL) 1941-42, 1946-56 1 7
Tom Brady NFL 2000- 3 5
Bart Starr NFL 1956-1971 1 5

Russell spent his entire career with the Boston Celtics. Beliveau and Richard both spent their entire careers with the Montreal Canadiens. Berra, DiMaggio, Mantle, and Rizzuto spent their entire career playing for the Yankees.

Ruth is the only one who played for different teams. He played for the Boston Red Sox (1914-19), then the New York Yankees (1920-34) before spending his final season with the Boston (now Atlanta) Braves.

The two NFL players with the most are Tom Brady (5 Super Bowls) and Bart Starr (2 Super Bowls, 3 NFL Championships), who both have five championships. Like the other players in the table, Starr played his entire career with the Green Bay Packers while Brady has done the same so far with the New England Patriots.

*I did not count Starr’s (or anyone else’s) NFL Championships during the four-year span it overlapped with the Super Bowl.

Amount of MVPs won by MVP winners in the four major sports (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB)

The players with 4+ MVPs

Player Sport Career Span # of MVPs # of Championships
Wayne Gretzky NHL 1978-1999 9 4
Barry Bonds MLB (NL) 1986-2007 7 0
Kareem Abdul Jabbar NBA 1969-1989 6 6
Gordie Howe NHL 1946-1980 6 4
Bill Russell NBA 1956-1969 5 11
Michael Jordan NBA 1984-93, 1994-1998, 2001-2003 5 6
Peyton Manning NFL 1998-2015 5 2
LeBron James NBA 2003- 4 3
Wilt Chamberlain NBA 1959-1973 4 2
Eddie Shore NHL 1926-1940 4 2

Out of the players to have not won a championship in each sport, a total of 19/98 of them are currently playing. Broken down for each sport it is 3/7 for the NBA, 3/22 (NFL), 4/10 (NHL) and 9/57 (MLB).

Only 10 players have won multiple MVPs and never won a championship, with eight of them being from MLB and two from the NBA. Mike Trout is the only one of these players currently playing. Barry Bonds is the only player in the four major sports to have 3 or more MVPs and never won a championship.

Only eleven players across the four major sports have won multiple championships and MVPs but ended up with more MVPs. It has happened six times in the NHL but only five times (Peyton Manning, LeBron James, Wilt Chamberlain, Albert Pujols, Jimmie Foxx) in the other three sports.


Out of the 98 MVPs who never won a championship, 48 of them never played in one. 37 of them only made it there once and lost. That means only 13 (13.26%) got at least a second crack at winning a championship and failed. 12 of these times happened in the NFL or MLB, with it only happening once in the NBA and never in the NHL.

Player Sport Career # of MVPs Championship Record
Terry Pendleton MLB 1984-1998 1 0-5 (13-20)
Gabby Hartnett MLB 1922-1941 1 0-4 (3-16)
Thurman Thomas NFL 1988-2000 1 0-4
Ty Cobb MLB 1905-1928 1 0-3 (4-12-1)
Larry Doyle MLB 1907-1920 1 0-3 (6-12-1)
Phil Cavarretta MLB 1934-1955 1 0-3 (5-12)
Y.A. Tittle NFL 1948-1964 1 0-3
Fran Tarkenton NFL 1961-1978 1 0-3
Alan Page NFL 1967-1981 1 0-3
Karl Malone NBA 1985-2004 2 0-3 (5-12)
Bobby Shantz MLB 1949-1964 1 0-2 (6-8)
Carl Yastrzemski MLB 1961-1983 1 0-2 (6-8)
Josh Hamilton MLB 2007-2015 1 0-2 (4-8)

Karl Malone is the only player in the four major sports to win multiple MVPs, play in multiple championships and never win one. This included losing consecutive NBA Finals with the Jazz in 1997 and 1998.

Terry Pendelton lost five championships, with three of those World Series loses coming in game seven. Two of those were with the St. Louis Cardinals and three with the Atlanta Braves, including back-to-back losses in 1991 and 1992. He was on the Braves from 1991-94 and traded back to them in 1996. The one year he was not on the team in 1995, they won the World Series.

Thurman Thomas made it to four consecutive Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills (1990-93) and lost all of them.

Ty Cobb lost three straight World Series (1907-09) with the Detroit Tigers and Larry Doyle lost three straight with the New York (now San Francisco) Giants (1911-13). Y.A. Tittle lost three straight NFL Championship games with the New York Giants (1961-63).

Frank Tarkenton and Alan Page both lost three Super Bowls in four years with the Minnesota Vikings in 1973, 1974 and 1976.

Josh Hamilton lost back-to-back World Series with the Rangers in 2010 and 2011.

Sources and Info:

Featured Image: “Bill Russell” by Kip-koech is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Used Google Spreadsheet to make all charts and tables


NFL Draft: Comparing the careers of each No. 1 pick

The NFL Draft is tomorrow and the Cleveland Browns have the first pick for the second year in a row. Once again a quarterback will likely get taken at the top of the draft but regardless the ripple effect that the selected player’s career has will be large on the franchise. With that being said, how have past No. 1 picks compare to each other in terms of their careers?

Games played

First, let’s take a look at how many games each player taken first in the NFL Draft has played. It is important to note that the current 16 game schedule did not start until the 1978 season. From 1961-1977, they only played 14 games and before that played between 10-12 games depending on the year.


Click this link to view above chart closer up: //

*I did count games played in the rival AFL and AAFC, as they are listed on Pro Football Reference.

Top 10 in terms of games played by 1st round picks

Bolded players are in Hall of Fame

Playing career Player Games played
1985-2003 Bruce Smith 279
1998-2015 Peyton Manning 266
1984-2000 Irving Fryar 255
1983-1998 John Elway 234
1987-2007 Vinny Testaverde 233
1974-1989 Ed ‘Too Tall’ Jones 224
2004-present Eli Manning 216
1968-1982 Ron Yary 207
1994-2006 Dan Wilkinson 195
1993-2006 Drew Bledsoe 194

*Chuck Bednarik was the first top pick (1949) to reach 100 and 150 games played, finishing with 169. It wasn’t until Ron Yary that a 1st overall pick surpassed these marks. Bednarik is still T-12 in terms of games played by a top pick, with Orlando Pace.

Bottom 10 in terms of games played by 1st round picks

This is not counting the last two overall picks (Jared Goff 22GP and Myles Garrett 11GP), since neither has played three seasons in the NFL.

Playing career Player Games played
N/A (Drafted 1936) *Jay Berwanger 0
N/A (Drafted 1962) *Ernie Davis 0
1954 Bobby Garrett 9
1947 Bob Fenimore 10
1961 (Drafted in 1959) *Randy Duncan 14
1946-1948 (Drafted in 1944) *Angelo Bertelli 16
1963-1965 Terry Baker 18
1946-1947 (Drafted in 1941) *Tom Harmon 22
1946-1948 Boley Dancewicz 23
1953-1955 Harry Babcock 30
2007-2009 JaMarcus Russell 31

*Berwanger never played due to a dispute over money with the Eagles and later Bears.

*Davis never played due to leukemia, which took his life just over a year after he was drafted. 

*Duncan never played in the NFL, but played one season in the rival AFL. 

*Bertelli was selected in 1944 while on active duty with the Marine Corps. After serving in the Pacific Theatre, he played three seasons in the rival AAFC following a court case between the AAFC’s L.A. Dons and the NFL’s Boston Yanks over who he could play for.

*Harmon declined to sign with the Bears after being drafted, Instead, signing with Columbia Pictures to make the film “Harmon of Michigan.” He then enlisted in the Army Air Corps and would eventually play two seasons with the L.A. Rams after the war.


Pro Bowls

The 82 players to have been selected with the 1st pick have made a combined 175 Pro Bowl appearances. Out of these 35 never made a Pro Bowl, while 47 went to at least one.

Pro Bowls

The first player taken with the top pick to make a Pro Bowl was Ki Aldrich in 1939.

Players selected 1st overall with the most Pro Bowl appearances

Bolded players are in Hall of Fame

Player Pro Bowls made Career length
Peyton Manning 14 1998-2015
Bruce Smith 11 1985-2003 
John Elway 9 1983-1998 
Chuck Bednarik 8 1949-1962 
Ron Yary 7 1968-1982
Orlando Pace 7 1997-2009 

All-Pro teams

For All-Pro teams, I only counted those who made a UPI team (1936-39) or an Associated Press (AP) All-Pro team (1940-present), as these are the main ones Pro Football Reference uses. Out of the 82 players taken with the top pick, 50 never made an All-Pro 1st or 2nd team.


Most All-Pro appearances by 1st overall picks 

Bolded players are in Hall of Fame

Player Total All-Pro app. All-Pro 1st All-Pro 2nd
Bruce Smith 11 8 3
Peyton Manning 10 7 3
Chuck Bednarik 9 6 3
Ron Yary 7 6 1
OJ Simpson 5 5 0


Since 1967, the AP has given out awards for Offensive Rookie of the Year (OROY) and  Defensive Rookie of the Year (DROY). Only five top picks have ever won either of these awards.

Bolded players are in Hall of Fame

Award (Year won) Player
OROY (1978) Earl Campbell
OROY (1980) Billy Sims
OROY (1981) George Rogers
OROY (2010) Sam Bradford
OROY (2011) Cam Newton

Starting in 1971, the AP has given out a Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) award. Their annual Offensive Player of the Year (OPOY) was first awarded the following year. Since then only six top picks have taken home one of these awards.

Bolded players are in Hall of Fame

Player Times winning OPOY/DPOY
Earl Campbell 3 (OPOY)
Bruce Smith 2 (DPOY)
Peyton Manning 2 (OPOY)
OJ Simpson 1 (OPOY)
Lee Roy Selmon 1 (DPOY)
Cam Newton 1 (OPOY)


Only nine players selected with the top pick in the draft have ever won the league’s MVP award. I used the Joe F. Carr (MVP) (1938-46),  the UPI MVP/POY (1948-1956) and the AP MVP award (1957-present) as the benchmark for MVP winners.

Bolded players are in Hall of Fame

Player MVP (Year won)
Peyton Manning 5 (2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2013)
Frankie Sinkwich 1 (1944)
Bill Dudley 1 (1946)
Paul Hornung 1 (1961)
OJ Simpson 1 (1973)
Terry Bradshaw 1 (1978)
Earl Campbell 1 (1979)
John Elway 1 (1987)
Cam Newton 1 (2011)

*Campbell and Newton are the only top picks to win OROY, OPOY, and MVP

Championships and Super Bowl MVPs

Out of the 82 players taken with the first pick in the NFL draft, 24 (29.26%) of them have either won an NFL Championship, AFL Championship or Super Bowl. Twelve of these players have at least two.

Bolded players are in Hall of Fame

Players with a least 2 championships
Championships won
Paul Hornung 5 (1 Super Bowl, 4 NFL Champ)
Terry Bradshaw 4 Super Bowls
Leon Hart 3 NFL Championships
Troy Aikman 3 Super Bowls
Billy Cannon *3 AFL Championships
Chuck Bednarik 2 NFL Championships
Bubba Smith 2 (1 Super Bowl, 1 NFL Champ)
Jim Plunkett 2 Super Bowls
John Matuszak 2 Super Bowls
John Elway 2 Super Bowls
Peyton Manning 2 Super Bowls
Eli Manning 2 Super Bowls

*Gary Glick (1 AFL Championship) is the only other No. 1 pick to have one.

Of course, the group of players gets even smaller when just looking at Super Bowl MVPs. Only six players taken with the first overall pick have been named Super Bowl MVP.

Bolded players are in Hall of Fame

Player Super Bowl MVPs
Terry Bradshaw 2
Eli Manning 2
Peyton Manning 1
John Elway 1
Troy Aikman 1
Jim Plunkett 1

Info and Notes:

Featured Image: “Peyton Manning” by Jeffrey Beall is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (used to take note of games played and honors for each player taken with the 1st pick)

Games played chart made using Datawrapper

All other charts and graphs made using Google Spreadsheet in Google Docs