Which Catholic high school in America has produced the most Super Bowl MVPs?
Give yourself a gold sticker for your helmet if you said Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, which has accounted for five Most Valuable Player Awards in the most-watched sporting event of the year.
Four of Serra’s five MVP alumni have been named Tom Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback who on Feb. 3 may end up with another “player of the game” award, depending on the outcome of New England’s encounter with the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII (as in 53).
Brady earned MVP honors in the Patriots’ victories over the St. Louis Rams (2002), Carolina Panthers (2004), Seattle Seahawks (2015) and Atlanta Falcons (2017), more than any other player in Super Bowl history.
A 1995 graduate of Junipero Serra HS who was a good enough baseball player to be drafted by the Montreal Expos, Brady honed his QB skills at the University of Michigan before embarking on his trophy-laden pro career.
The other Super Bowl MVP from Junipero Serra HS was its first: current USC athletic director Lynn Swann (class of 1970), a California state long jump champion at Serra before starring at USC and then in the NFL, leading the Pittsburgh Steelers to victory over Dallas in Super Bowl XII in 1976.
On the losing end in that game was Cowboy QB Roger Staubach, who four years earlier had been the MVP of Super Bowl VI. The graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, where he won the 1963 Heisman Trophy, attended St. John the Evangelist Catholic School and in 1960 graduated from Purcell Catholic High School in Cincinnati (now named Purcell Marian High School).
In 1997, the Green Bay Packers’ Desmond Howard was MVP of Super Bowl XXXI. He had previously earned All-American and All-Ohio honors as a tailback during his senior season at Cleveland’s St. Joseph High School (now Villa Angela-St. Joseph), a school which also produced pro footballers Bob and Mike Golic.
And in 2000, quarterback Kurt Warner of the St. Louis Rams, a 1989 graduate of Regis High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (which in 1989 merged with La Salle HS to form Xavier High School), earned MVP honors for leading his team over the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV.
One more Super Bowl MVP with Catholic connections earlier in his background is Phil Simms, an alumnus of St. Rita Elementary School in Louisville, Ky., and engineered the New York Giants’ 1987 win over Buffalo in Super Bowl XXI.
And one last word on Junipero Serra HS in San Mateo: The institution also produced former USC and L.A. Rams head coach John Robinson (class of 1954), and has accounted for a slew of major league baseball trophies, mainly courtesy of seven-time National League MVP Barry Bonds (class of 1982), as well as former major league All-Stars Jim Fregosi (class of 1959) and Gregg Jefferies (class of 1985).
Mike Nelson is the former editor of The Tidings (predecessor of Angelus News).
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