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Better than Elway?

Better than Elway?

Today’s title gives a pretty good hint as to what today’s post is about. The table below shows the career Approximate Value for the top 50 players whose last game happened to be a Super Bowl victory. For reference, I’ve also includes things like number of games, Pro Bowls, 1st-team All-Pro selections, and number of seasons starting.

In addition to Lewis, Matt Birk of the Ravens also joins the list, and for the heck of it, I’ve included Anquan Boldin, who has hinted that he might retire. Full disclosure: I defined a player as “retiring after winning the Super Bowl” if his last season came during a year in which he played for the eventual Super Bowl champ. So Wes Chandler, who played for the ’88 49ers but retired in mid-season, is included in this list even though he shouldn’t be. Ditto Michael Dean Perry, who was on the Broncos in 1997 but actually finished the season with the Chiefs. I could filter out all the Chandlers and Perrys of the world, but my time is better spent elsewhere (for that matter, just about every person’s time is better spent elsewhere), and therefore I’ll present the full, overinclusive list instead of spending an extra hour of time fixing it and possibly not presenting it at all.

The table is sorted by the Career AV column; the AV column shows the player’s AV in his final season.

RkNameYearTeamPosAVCarAVGPro Bowl1APSeaSt
1Ray Lewis2012BALILB415922813714
2John Elway1998DENQB141382349016
3Ted Hendricks1983RAIOLB101222158414
4Michael Strahan2007NYGDE81212167414
5Mel Renfro1977DALCB-S110617410113
6Gary Zimmerman1997DENT9991847312
7Forrest Gregg1971DALT-G1961939711
8Lomas Brown2002TAMT1932637117
9Ralph Neely1977DALT9921722312
10Seth Joyner1998DENOLB1861953011
11Jack Reynolds1984SFOILB7841982011
12Michael Dean Perry1997DENDT483148629
13Tarik Glenn2006INDT14821543010
14Wes Chandler1988SFOWR080150419
15Jerome Bettis2005PITRB3801926212
16Charles Mann1994SFODE2781774010
17Billy Ray Smith1970BALDT-DE9781660011
18Jimmy Orr1970BALWR2771492110
19Randy Cross1988SFOG-C7771853013
20Chris McAlister2009NORCB073137319
21Anquan Boldin2012BALWR9711403010
22Rich Caster1982WASTE-WR071161308
23Max McGee1967GNBWR070148109
24Matt Birk2012BALC6702106012
25Sean Jones1996GNBDE1067201109
26Matt Millen1991WASILB7671801012
27Jim Dunaway1972MIADT466132419
28Larry Centers2003NWEFB266198308
29Russ Grimm1991WASG263140439
30Joe Lavender1982WASCB262139209
31Curtis McClinton1969KANFB161107305
32Anthony Pleasant2003NWEDE-DT1612020011
33Kareem McKenzie2011NYGT8611610010
34Deon Grant2011NYGS4601760010
35Bob Talamini1968NYJG759126639
36Johnny Sample1968NYJCB-S958125007
37Jim McMahon1996GNBQB057120109
38Keith Jackson1996GNBTE857129537
39Ricky Proehl2006INDWR057244006
40Jay Novacek1995DALTE1157158516
41Ben Coates2000BALTE256158527
42Mark Tauscher2010GNBT255134009
43Gerald Riggs1991WASRB255129305
44Fuzzy Thurston1967GNBG155116017
45Orpheus Roye2008PITDE-DT155180008
46Louie Kelcher1984SFODT154116317
47Ken Ruettgers1996GNBT154156009
48Jeff Christy2002TAMC553148309
49Paul Hornung1966GNBRB452104229
50Tim McKyer1997DENCB150170007

It’s hard to top John Elway for going out on a high note, but I think Ray Lewis did just that.

  • Will

    Good to see the other two guys I immediately thought of (Elway and Strahan) up there in the top 4. (Looks like I should look up Ted Hendricks)

    Besides the coincidence of seeing Deon Grant at 34, his number with the Giants, it’s strange seeing him there along with McKenzie close by seeing as their retirement wasn’t exactly voluntary, instead being forced upon them.
    I wonder how many others werein that boat

  • Kibbles

    Ray Lewis might have had the best career of someone who retired after a SB championship, but no one will ever top Elway for going out on a high note. Having an injury plagued season, poor playoffs, and terrible SB doesn’t trump winning the second consecutive SB (and SBMVP) after 14 years of choker rumblings. Elway also had the best AV in his final season of anyone else on the list.

    Ray Lewis is an amazing player, but it’ll be a long time before we see a storybook ending to top Elway’s.

    • Richie

      I am generally a fan of AV, but I think this might be an example where it falls a little short. Is there any realistic way that anybody could argue that Ray Lewis provided more value in his career than John Elway? Knowing how their careers would turn out, would any GM pick 22-year-old Ray Lewis over 22-year-old John Elway?

      • Richie

        Thinking a little more, I think the AV problem for Elway is hinted at in Danish’ post – lack of All Pros. I think it is much harder for a skill position player to get All Pro (and even Pro Bowl) nods than a linebacker. Many of the non-skill guys get their AP’s on scholarship, but skill guys have some actual numbers they have to compete against.

        Take away a few of Lewis’ All Pros and maybe his AV isn’t quite so sparkling.

        • Johnny


          Chase can correct me if I am wrong but I don’t think QBs are effected by Pro Bowls or All Pro Selections in their AV calculations.

          You can’t simply “take away” a few of a player’s All Pro Selections. Especially when we are discussing such a huge disparity with Lewis’ 10 Total (7 1st Team & 3 2nd Team) vs Elway’s 3 Total (0 1st Team & 3 2nd Team).

  • Danish

    It bums me out every time i see that zero in Elways AP column.

    I forget how good Hendricks was. Man was he character? Ultimate Raider.

    I tend to agree with Kibbles here – Elway was pretty unbelievable. I’d probably admit to Ray Lewis being the better player overall, so in that sense the answer seems to be “yes”, but in terms of storyline and what have you, I’d go with Elway.

  • Tim Truemper

    Ted Hendricks, aka “The Mad Stork” terrific OLB who won a SB in 1970 with the Colts anchoring a defense along with MLB Mike Curtis. But evolved into one of the hallmark Oakland Raiders and won another SB.

  • Duff Soviet Union

    So many weird names here. Lomas Brown on the 2002 Bucs? At least he didn’t deliberately let Brad Johnson get injured that year, I guess. Seth Joyner on the 98 Broncos, Larry Centers on the Patriots, Chris McCallister on the Saints, Proehl on the Colts and Ben Coates on the Ravens? I don’t remember any of this.

  • Independent George

    Did Matt Birk retire this season? His 97 Career AV puts him 7th on this list.

    • Independent George

      Duh. You mentioned Matt Birk in the blurb; I skipped ahead to the table.

    • Chase Stuart

      Birk is on the list, but he has a career AV of only 70. Remember, career AV is not the sum of all single-season AVs, but includes the 100/95/90 dropoff.