One of the first things mentioned in the history books, in regards to Super Bowl lore, is who was named the Most Valuable Player of the game. This honor places that individual forever in a prominent place in the NFL story.
While it is easy to first look at the quarterback position, since they handle the ball most every play, it is not a certainty a player from this position will walk away with the honor. There have been 20 players from other positions to win the award so far.
Being a star on a team also does not guarantee this award. Men like Dexter Jackson, Larry Brown and Desmond Howard were role players who had the games of their lives on the NFL's biggest stage.
Here are 10 players to watch closely in Super Bowl XLV :
Ben Roethlisberger - "Big Ben" already has won the Super Bowl twice, but he helped turn two of his wide receivers, Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes, into Super Bowl MVP's. He is tough and difficult to sack. A big game will help distance him more from his personal issues, which include recent disparaging remarks by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Rashard Mendenhall - Mendenhall carried the Steelers offense much of the year, and now, he faces a Packers team prone to giving up big chunks of yards on the ground. If he gets off to a fast start, Pittsburgh will keep feeding him the pill to control the clock, keep the Packers offense off the field and wear down the Green Bay defense.
Mike Wallace - Wallace has blazing speed, a commodity few in the NFL have been able to deal with in 2010. He averaged 21 yards per catch and scored 10 times. While Green Bay has good cornerbacks, Charles Woodson is 34 years old and will have issues trying to keep up with Wallace on a long ball.
Troy Polamalu - He is not only the 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, he is the leader of the Steelers secondary and perhaps their most important defender. Polamalu is always where the ball is and is known for creating turnovers. He really brings it each play and should have Packers receivers heads on a swivel for 60 minutes.
Heath Miller - Miller was a Pro Bowler in 2009, but he hasn't been fed the ball nearly as much this year. He can get deep and stretch the seam. He could be very effective Sunday and become the first tight end to be named Super Bowl MVP.
Aaron Rodgers - Rodgers has been sharp all season and has pretty much carried the Green Bay offense. While tossing for almost 4,000 yards, he was also second on the team in rushing. When Packers star halfback Ryan Grant went down for the season in the first game of 2010, Green Bay had virtually no running game the rest of the way. Rodgers stepped up his game and is now the unquestioned leader.
Greg Jennings - Five wide receivers have won the Super Bowl MVP, and Jennings is undoubtedly Rodgers' favorite target. Green Bay loves to run sets with four wide receivers, and Pittsburgh will have great difficulty matching up. Jennings might explode Sunday.
B.J. Raji - Three defensive linemen have won the award, and Raji has a tremendous opportunity to be the star on Sunday. Pittsburgh will not be playing injured rookie Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey and will have to plug in Doug Legursky, who has mainly played guard in his career. Raji might terrorize the Steelers so much that he will end up having to be triple-teamed, which will open up things for his teammates and blitz packages.
Mason Crosby - No kicker has ever won the Super Bowl MVP Award, but Crosby might be a very important player Sunday. Both defenses are extremely stingy, so scoring opportunities might be few and far between. Crosby has a very strong leg that can reach the goal posts from nearly 60 yards out. He might be the difference maker.
Tramon Williams - Williams not only had a great 2010, but he has been special in the playoffs. If the Packers put pressure on Roethlisberger, a few passes could go errant. Williams could be in prime position to change the complexion of the game.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!