Top 10 unexpected Super Bowl heroes

Posted Feb. 03, 2010 @ 12:19 p.m.
Posted By Bob McGinn

1. Timmy Smith, RB, Redskins, XXII: Joe Gibbs played the right hunch, giving Smith his first start over the aging George Rogers. He broke loose for a Super Bowl-record 204 yards.

2. Kurt Warner, QB, Rams, XXXIV: Warner was a 28-year-old nobody when an injury to Trent Green during the 1999 exhibition season landed Warner the starting job. Playing for a base salary of $254,000, he was the MVP of the regular season and the Super Bowl.

3. Jeff Hostetler, QB, Giants, XXV: When Phil Simms went down with a season-ending foot injury in Week 14, the Giants turned to Hostetler. "He was an example of preparation and patience, of being ready when your number's called," said Bill Belichick, then the Giants' defensive coordinator.

4. Terry Bradshaw, QB, Steelers, IX: It was Bradshaw's fifth season in the league, and for the first six games of 1974, he was backing up Joe Gilliam. But when Chuck Noll turned to Bradshaw in Week 7, a Hall of Fame career kicked into gear.

5. Max McGee, WR, Packers, I: In January, 1967, McGee was two years removed from his last good season and playing out the string of a fine career. Then Boyd Dowler got hurt and "Maxie the Taxi" entered football lore.

6. Corey Webster, CB, Giants, XLII: Benched three weeks into the season and inactive for two more games, Webster got his chance after injuries struck the Giants. When the playoffs began, he suddenly played like a shut-down corner.

7. Ottis Anderson, RB, Giants, XXV: Twice a Pro Bowl pick in St. Louis, Anderson was on the backside of his career and losing playing time until rookie Rodney Hampton broke his leg in the playoff opener. Anderson was named Super Bowl MVP.

8. Vince Ferragamo, QB, Rams, XIV: The Super Bowl was only the eighth start of Ferragamo's erratic career. After starter Pat Haden went down, Ferragamo was the Rams' third option. He then directed two playoff victories and nearly notched a third against the vaunted Steelers.

9. Bruce Wilkerson, OLT, Packers, XXXI: Wilkerson was handed the starting job in Week 16 when top pick John Michels flopped. Protecting Brett Favre's blind side, he allowed only one sack in his four starts.

10. Larry Brown, CB, Cowboys, XXX: A backup in his fifth season, Brown became the starter when injuries and a suspension gave him an opening. After intercepting two passes and being named MVP, Brown signed a five-year, $12.5 million deal with the Raiders.

 

Bob McGinn, the author of "The Ultimate Super Bowl Book," has covered the Green Bay Packers and the NFL for 30 years, including the last 19 for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He has been Pro Football Weekly's correspondent in Green Bay since the early 1980s. McGinn spent 4½ years interviewing more than 150 head coaches, assistant coaches, players, general managers, scouts and owners, as well as studying tapes of every game, in preparation for writing his book. His objective was to break down why each game was won. "The Ultimate Super Bowl Book," published by MVP Books, is available at mvpbooks.com, Amazon.com and book stores across the country. It contains more than 25 top-10 lists, a comprehensive statistical summary of each game and a list of Super Bowl records.