Today on NFL Thursday, we have a team that had to cheat the newly implemented salary cap in order to win the Super Bowl, after five years of postseason struggle. Yes, we’re talking about the San Francisco 49ers, sadly. Alas, the team has paid the price since this 1994 by failing to win another NFL title, so maybe karma is a thing in professional sports. Then again, maybe it’s not.

(For this specific article, check out our first NFL miniseries entry on this season for context.)

Super Bowl XXIX MVP: Steve Young, QB, San Francisco (original, confirmed)

The 49ers beat the San Diego Chargers, 49-26, in the Super Bowl, and quarterback Steve Young was named the game’s MVP for tossing 6 touchdown passes (even though S.F. was running up the score by throwing with a 35-10 lead in the third quarter). Young totaled 374 yards in the air and on the ground, as this game was never really close.

We hate to reward a team or a player for poor sportsmanship, but the 49ers couldn’t run the ball here at all: the backs combined for 80 yards rushing on 25 carries, so the S.F. offense had to throw the ball? Weak argument, in truth. Also, the Chargers piled up 354 yards on offense themselves, despite 3 turnovers. Young will keep his MVP trophy, mostly by default.

1994 NFL ROTY: Marshall Faulk, RB, Indianapolis & Tim Bowens, DT, Miami (original); Bryant Young, DT, San Francisco (revised)

The vote winners listed above both played in the AFC East, with Bowens (3 sacks, 2 FFs) helping the Dolphins to the division title, while the Colts finished 8-8 with Faulk (1,804 scrimmage yards and 12 TDs), still a 4-win improvement over the prior year, despite missing the playoffs. Who else can we consider for this award? Maybe just two, but it’s an interesting situation.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Darnay Scott (1,025 total yards and 5 TDs) couldn’t help his team to anything more than a 3-13 record, while 49ers defensive tackle Bryant Young (6 sacks, 1 FF) definitely helped his team improve 3 wins from the season before—even though the defense itself, despite many free-agent additions, actually was “worse” overall, in terms of points allowed (by 1 point, in truth).

Still, we see Young as better and more valuable than Bowens, and that decides our hardware designation here. The Dolphins won only 1 game more than they did in 1993, as well, so it’s icing on the cake. This award should have gone to Young (no relation to Steve).