Calais Campbell thinks the wrong man was named MVP of Super Bowl LVI. Baltimore Ravens’ defensive tackle Campbell disagreed with the decision to honor wide receiver Copper Kupp after the Los Angeles Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 on Sunday, February 13.
Kupp caught eight passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning score. He also kept the decisive drive alive by rushing to convert a critical fourth down late in the final quarter.
That’s impressive work by anybody’s standards, but Campbell, who helped cover the game for UK broadcaster Sky Sports NFL, wanted somebody else named MVP. The 35-year-old wanted to see a defensive player win the award for just the 11th time in Super Bowl history.
Not too surprisingly, Campbell also showed allegiance to his position. He believes one headline act from the interior of the Rams’ defensive front did more to deserve the award than Kupp.
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Campbell Chose a Different MVP
During an interview with TMZ Sports, conducted while he was leaving the Rams’ SoFi Stadium, Campbell revealed his personal preference for MVP: “Cooper Kupp did a great job, he’s worthy. Aaron Donald played an amazing game. He should’ve been Super Bowl MVP. He went and earned it today.”
Campbell’s reference to Donald earning it is about the latter’s stunning second-half performance. Donald made two tackles for loss, sacked Joe Burrow twice and put three more hits on the Bengals’ franchise quarterback, per Pro Football Reference.
One of those three hits came on the game’s decisive play, when pressure from Donald forced Burrow into a desperate heave that fell incomplete on fourth down. It left the Rams to take a knee and complete their capture of football’s biggest prize.
The play preceding Donald’s key pressure was a decisive stop against running back Samaje Perine on third down. This tackle was relayed by Ben Brown of the QB List, offering Richmond Times-Dispatch interim editor Michael Phillips the chance to declare Donald worthy of greatness:
It’s a sentiment echoed by Campbell, who also told TMZ Sports Donald belongs “in the conversation” about who is the greatest defensive player of all time.
That’s lofty praise from a talented fellow pro playing the same position. Donald earning praise like this from his peers is proof enough of his greatness.
So is the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year now keeping company with some of the best to ever do it on his side of the ball, per NFL Research:
Donald has cemented a legacy, but it’s a story Campbell hopes won’t end any time soon.
Campbell Tells #99 to Continue Career
Campbell kept it simple and to the point when asked about rumors Donald could retire now he’s finally secured that elusive Super Bowl ring: “Play some more! Come on. Keep playing!”
There had been talk Donald is ready to hang up his cleats. Former San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison suggested as much while working for NBC Sports prior to kickoff at Super Bowl LVI:
Not everybody is convinced, however. Among the naysayers, Yahoo! Sports’ Charles Robinson speculated Donald’s hints about calling time on his career might be financially motivated: “consider that four other defensive players outpace him in average annual salary — and that a multitude of others will bypass him if Donald plays out the next three years of his deal at roughly $22 million per season.”
Whatever the reality behind these rumors, the idea of a player wanting to win a championship to complete a career is something Campbell should understand. It’s no doubt why he’s continued to play through 14 seasons on three different teams.
He’s been an outstanding defensive lineman, logging 93.5 career sacks. Yet, Campbell has only ever appeared in one Super Bowl, as a rookie for the Arizona Cardinals in 2008, losing 27-23 to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It’s not clear yet whether the Ravens will be Campbell’s final stop. He’s a free agent who counted for $13 million against the team’s salary cap, according to Spotrac.com.
Campbell may be in the winter of his career, but he’s also still the Ravens’ best defensive lineman, a player who like Donald, can dominate any game and deserves a Lombardi Trophy.