Want to Win a Super Bowl? An Elite Safety Has Been the Most Common Variable

By Jason Lisk

Earlier this week, I talked about Peyton Manning’s performance in the Super Bowl and how his playoff career compared to others when it came to stats and expected versus actual wins. In that, I discussed how, while it is generally accepted that you have to have a great quarterback to win a title, recent history shows that–while important–it is very infrequent that the winning quarterback had a great season.

But I thought I would expound on that. If we look at which players on the Super Bowl champions were selected as first team all-pro, one position stands above the others: safety. Six first team all-pro safeties have won a title in the last two decades, and 9 other pro bowlers appeared on champions. In contrast, the last first team all-pro QB to win a title in the same season was Kurt Warner in 1999, and Cam Newton’s loss keeps that streak going. That’s one year longer than the last first team all-pro offensive tackle (Jonathan Ogden of the Ravens in 2000).

Here’s a summary of the number of all-pros and pro bowlers on both the Super Bowl champ and the runner-up in the last two decades:

The quarterback position is still tops when it comes to percentage (since there is only one on the field), but the number of safeties who have been recognized at the top of their position and reached the Super Bowl show that it is an important part of most elite teams. This is also further evidence that the “great teams build in the trenches” does not necessarily hold up when compared to other positions.