Cooper Kupp took home the hardware, but should the NFL’s baddest man have won Super Bowl LVI MVP? We make the case for Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald.
In one of the most memorable game-winning drives in league history, Sean McVay and his Los Angeles Rams sealed a championship run at home over the Cincinnati Bengals with a 15-play stanza, capped with Matthew Stafford finding Offensive Player of the Year Cooper Kupp for his second touchdown haul of the night.
With Odell Beckham out with injury and the running game stifled, Stafford and Kupp rose up with the Rams season on the line. Not only did the All-Pro wideout become the fourth player since the NFL merger to take home the triple crown this season, but the Eastern Washington product was also one of only 15 players to record two or more receiving scores in the Super Bowl.
Only Jerry Rice’s two respective three-TD games top Kupp’s total in any single Super Bowl.
Kupp was more than deserving of Super Bowl MVP. But how does the man many regard as the best player in football get ignored?
The argument for Aaron Donald as Super Bowl LVI MVP
Aaron Donald may have had a frustrating start, but he more than made up for it in the second half of SBLVI. Not only did he terrorize the Bengals’ offensive line, but recorded two sacks and three quarterback hits on Joe Burrow, Donald literally called game, further cementing him with GOAT status as one of best defensive players ever.
Tallying those two sacks, Donald joined the likes of former Super Bowl heroes of the past like Reggie White, Justin Tuck, DeMarcus Ware, Mike Vrabel, and, of course, his teammate Von Miller. The Pittsburgh product finally got the one missing piece of his legendary resume.
Three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Eight Pro Bowls, seven All-Pros. Rookie of the Year. All-Decade selection. The list goes on. But now you can add Super Bowl champion. I think this just helps him climb the all-time defensive tackles list. There aren’t many players, across any era, who have had the same impact guys like Donald, or “Mean” Joe Greene, or Merlin Olsen, or Warren Sapp, have had.
Aaron Donald, 30, is young enough too where he could dominate the trenches for another five seasons and no one would bat an eye. But this win heightens things especially factoring in the pre-game rumors of his potential retirement now that he’s gotten his ring.
So if this is goodbye to one of the NFL’s all-time bests, it’s so long AD. You will be missed for your presence in the game. He’s truly been one of the most dominant superstars in NFL history. So much so, a former Super Bowl MVP and now two-time champ in Miller felt the need to give Donald his flowers in the postgame interview the two had with NFL Network:
"“It just does not turn off man. His energy, his desire, his determination to be great. It’s on the football field, it’s during walkthroughs, it’s in the weight room. When we talk in the locker room, or on the plane before and after games, it’s just contagious man. He works so hard man, you just want to lay your neck out on the line for the guy man. And that’s not [just] me, that’s everybody out there man. It’s just an honor and a privilege to be here with him. To experience it, to witness it. I love this guy man."
Aaron Donald finally got his ring. But on the game’s biggest stage, and going with LA’s Hollywood theme, he was passed up for the Academy Award by a very viable option in a teammate of his. If he is to retire, however, it would have been historic seeing his final blockbuster, box office hit accentuated with the big game’s top honor.