GHENT, WV (WVNS) — Millions watched as Patrick Mahomes took home the Super Bowl LVII MVP Trophy after the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Philadelphia Eagles by a final score of 38 to 35.
But what some may not know, is if there has been a player from the losing team to win their respective championship game’s MVP award in major professional sports history. In fact, there have been two athletes, and they are both from West Virginia!
Jerry West, or ‘Zeke from Cabin Creek’ as some may know him, who was born in Chelyan, West Virginia, won the NBA Finals MVP award after the Los Angeles Lakers fell to the Boston Celtics in Game 7 on the 1969 NBA Finals. Wheeling native and legendary NFL linebacker Chuck Howley, who was recently inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, won the MVP award in a loss to the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl V.
Both men played very different sports but had two major things in common. Both are West Virginia natives and attended West Virginia University, where their legacies truly began.
Many fans and athletes know Jerry West as one of the greatest guards in NBA history. With a quick shot release and handles for days, West became one of the most dominant scorers in the NBA. Even though he holds the worst NBA finals record of all-time at 1 win and 8 losses, West also is the only player in NBA history to be awarded the Finals MVP Trophy and lose the Finals.
During the 1969 NBA Finals versus the Boston Celtics, West averaged 39.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game. The Celtics would end up winning Game 7, but it wasn’t without pushback from Jerry West. In Game 7, West scored 42 points and had 12 assists to go along with 13 rebounds. Because of how dominant of a force Jerry West was on both ends of the court, his silhouette was made the NBA’s Logo in 1969.
Chuck Howley was a defensive force that many had not seen in the early days of the NFL. The gritty linebacker from the Dallas Cowboys took his opportunity on the biggest stage in sports to make history not once, but twice.
During a losing effort by the Dallas Cowboys to the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl V, Howley became the first defensive player to win the Super Bowl MVP award. He also became the only player in NFL history to win the MVP trophy from the losing team, which still stands today.
Howley finished Super Bowl V with two interceptions and a fumble recovery. A late field goal by Jim O’Brien would propel the Baltimore Colts to a 16-13 victory.
When many West Virginians speak about Jerry West and Chuck Howley, they beam with pride and are full of facts. To this day, Howley and West continue to make their communities of Wheeling and Chelyan proud as well as the entire Mountain State.