Data Points: Birthday boy Branch among elite

Happy 32nd birthday, Deion Branch. In tribute to the coast-to-coast wideout (Patriots/Seahawks/Patriots), here’s a look at the exclusive club to which he belongs, one that has gotten a bit larger in recent years.

Yes, the NFL is a quarterback-driven league. But you also need someone to catch the football. The last eight Super Bowl MVPs have come from the offensive side of the ball. While five have been quarterbacks, there have also been three wide receivers to earn the game’s top honor over that span. Compare that to the first 37 Super Bowls, when a wideout was named MVP only three times.

What’s interesting about all six of these receivers’ Super Bowl performances was that, when it was all said and done, the emphasis seemed to be on their yards per catch on Super Sunday. True, Branch and Jerry Rice are co-owners of the Super Bowl record for receptions (two other players caught 11 passes in losing efforts). But none of the six scored more than one touchdown in the game, and Branch and Oakland Raiders WR Fred Biletnikoff failed to find the end zone.

— Russell S. Baxter

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