Top 10 Overlooked Super Bowl Stories: #1


By: Adrian Jarding | @swimjarding
Member of Ball State Sports Link


Continuing the lead up to Super Bowl 50, we look at my #1 overlooked Super Bowl Story.

For #4-2, click here.

For #7-5, click here

For #10-8 click here.


#1: Mark Rypien led the “Dull Redskins” over the glittery Bills in Super Bowl XXVI

The greatest football team of all-time according to statistics, would be the 1991 Washington Redskins.

Just ask Bleacher Report, Football Outsiders, or USA Today.

The argument had been made that they were the most rounded and complete team in NFL history, which I can’t argue against.

They had one of the toughest schedules in NFL history going off of stats, because their opponents had a collective record over .500.

Washington’s average margin of victory was greater than the ’85 Bears and the ’84 49ers.

Joe Gibbs was still the head coach, Richie Petitbon was the defensive coordinator, the Hogs were still a wrecking force, and… Mark Rypien was the quarterback.

Unfortunately for Mark Rypien, he is the sole reason this team is often forgotten about. If Troy Aikman, or John Elway, or any other above average quarterback had been on the 91′ Skins, there would not be a debate.

Mark Rypien
Mark Rypien was often criticized for having an awkward throwing motion. Nevertheless, he had one of the best deep balls the game has ever seen. Credit: AP Photo/Al Golub

To me, this is incredibly unfair, but such is life in the constantly scrutinized NFL (the “Not For Long” league).

If ever there was a player in the history of the NFL who best epitomized their team, Mark Rypien would be at the top of the list.

A born Canadian, Rypien was a sixth round pick in 1986 out of Washington State (WA).

He sat behind Jay Schroeder and Super Bowl champion Doug Williams for three years, and in 1989 he got his chance to be the Redsksins starting quarterback.

His first season as a starter did not disappoint. He threw for 3,768 yards, 22 touchdowns and replaced Joe Montana to make his first ever Pro Bowl (back when the game was actually pretty cool).

I mean this in the best way possible — Mark Rypien was one of the most clumsy, awkward quarterbacks the NFL has ever seen short of Eli Manning.

He couldn’t scramble, his short passes were wobbly and looked like they had helium, and he didn’t have a great media personality.

There was a redeeming quality though, his deep ball.

We can talk about Dan Marino, Peyton Manning, or Warren Moon who all were lightyears ahead of Rypien in terms of being an overall quarterback.

If you were to build a perfect quarterback though, I would take the smarts of Joe Montana, the fire of Tom Brady, the work ethic of Peyton Manning, the toughness of Brett Favre, and the arm of Mark Rypien to build my quarterback.

Joe Gibbs has said on numerous occasions that he believes Rypien had the best deep ball in league history.

When you sit back and dissect how hard it is to throw Hail Mary’s, you begin to realize Rypien had quite a talent.

Mark Rypien throws a pass right before the Bills’ Cornelius Bennett could swat it down in Super Bowl XXVI.

First and foremost you have to have the arm. Not everyone has an arm that can throw 10-15 deep balls per game. Rypien did.

Secondly, you have to develop a sense of precise timing with your receivers. The quarterback has to know how many steps he needs to take, where to put the ball and most importantly, make it there.

Lastly, your coach needs faith in you to call it. If you go deep twice in a row, and they both result in incompletions, then you’re stuck on third down trying to make-up for your last two plays.

Gibbs had a lot of faith in Rypien to call it.

In week 11 of the 1991 season, the Skins played the Atlanta Falcons at home. They were 9-0 going into the game.

Rypien threw for six touchdowns and 442 yards, despite completing 51% of his passes (16/31). They won 56-17. It was the best performance posted all year by a quarterback.

Going into the playoffs, the Redskins were 14-2.

They outscored their opponents 485-224, beating the greatest defense in football history according to Football Outsiders twice, the Philadelphia Eagles, who were coached by Buddy Ryan.

Washington beat the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions by a combined total of 48 points en route to Super Bowl XXVI.

In the week leading up to the Super Bowl, the Redskins were obliterated by the cold-hearted media in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Rypien and crew were pulling Marshawn Lynch’s 23 years before Marshawn Lynch. They gave the same answers over and over again when asked about the Buffalo Bills.

Throughout the week leading up to the Super Bowl, Mark Rypien gave the same standard answers everyday. The media was so bored, they criticized his haircut. Credit: Rogers Photo Archive

I can pretty much sum of the Redskins overall media response in a few sentences.

“They have some tough suckers over there. Their running back is the league MVP, so what you have is a problem. They have some great defensive players, and are very fast.” Et cetera.

The media was so bored with their dull responses, that their attempt to create controversy included criticizing of all things, Mark Rypien’s haircut.

I’ll admit, it’s much better than criticizing two quarterbacks for deflated balls and a false HGH report. Score one for Gryffindor.

Meanwhile, the Bills became the media’s darling.

They lost the Super Bowl the year before on a infamous wide-right kick to the New York Giants, and were certainly the favorites to win against the Redskins.

Running back Thurman Thomas was the league MVP, and apparently got so caught up in the media blitz, he forgot his helmet to start the game.

While Thomas forgot his helmet, Rypien didn’t.

He threw for 292 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception, which earned him MVP honors and a trip to Disneyland.

The the sixth round pick with bad hair had one of the greatest seasons in NFL history.

The 1991 Redskins are not brought up as much as the 85′ Bears or any other team because Mark Rypien didn’t do much after 1991.

He was always seen as a below average quarterback on one of the best assembled teams in NFL history.

The thing is, how can you not look at his numbers from that one season and say it wasn’t a terrific performance? Throwing for 3,564 yards, 28 touchdowns and 11 interceptions is nothing to sneeze at.

Bad hair in all, it was nevertheless a fantastic season for the first Canadian born quarterback to win a Super Bowl.

Mark Rypien celebrates after winning Super Bowl XXVI. Credit: NFL

Keep this gif in mind when watching the game tonight, and wonder how much cooler Cam Newton or Peyton Manning would be if they celebrated like this after winning.

All hail to Mark Rypien and the 1991 Washington Redskins.


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