This is the eighth time out for our second NFL Thursday miniseries, as we scrutinize the non-existent Championship Game MVP. Remember, title-game MVP awards were not voted upon until 1961 (and the AFL title games only started giving out the award in 1963), so we like to fill gaps in the historical record. After all, that is what historians/journalists like us do! Remember, you can check out our first miniseries entry on this year for context, too.
But this is the first year the NFL awarded a Rookie of the Year Award, probably out of necessity as you will see below. Enjoy!
1957 NFL Championship Game MVP: Tobin Rote, QB, Detroit Lions
We had another blowout in the title game, as the Detroit Lions crushed the favored Cleveland Browns, 59-14, in a game that was truly shocking in its result. Why? Because the Lions had trailed the San Francisco 49ers in the West Division playoff game, 27-7, in the second half before scoring 24 straight points to emerge victorious on the road, so Detroit was living on borrowed time. The Lions sure made the most of momentum, though, by jumping out to a 31-7 halftime lead over the Browns the following week.
Detroit didn’t let up, either, piling it on in the second half of the championship. All four touchdowns for the Lions in the second half were passing plays, which is kind of classless, in truth. So we look to the first half for the true MVP of the game: quarterback Tobin Rote, who scored both on a run and a throw in the first half (before tossing 3 more TDs in the second half). Now, the Browns committed 7 turnovers in this game, which made it easier for Detroit to run up the score, but still … Rote did his job.
With five different Lions scoring in the first half, including defensive back Terry Barr on a 19-yard interception return to close out the first-half scoring, it was still Rote who led the show for Detroit’s offense. He scored the Lions’ first TD on the ground in the first quarter, and he added a TD pass in the second quarter to make it 24-7. Overall, Rote thew for 280 yards and 4 TDs, to go along with 27 yards rushing and that first TD of the game. That has to be good enough to earn this nod.
1957 NFL ROTY: Jim Brown, FB, Cleveland Browns (original, confirmed)
Cleveland rookie fullback Jim Brown won our MVP nod for this season (as we confirmed the Associated Press vote at the time, too), so it’s easy to re-affirm his AP ROTY vote win, too. With minimal QB support, Brown ran for an NFL-best 942 yards and 9 rushing TDs, while adding 16 pass receptions, too, and one receiving score. He did fumble 7 times, though, which is problematic in a 12-game season.
But the Browns posted a 9-2-1 record to be the best team in the NFL (both sabermetrically and in the standings, too), and even though his team was overwhelmed in the title game, it doesn’t change the regular-season realities here. He was the man, period.