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Mark Rypien’s Super Bowl legacy goes from triumph, to tragedy, to triumph again

Mark Rypien’s Super Bowl legacy goes from triumph, to tragedy, to triumph again

MINNEAPOLIS – Mark Rypien was a special quarterback for one season, and only one season.

The only other time the Super Bowl was played in Minnesota, Rypien finished a season that is unlike any other in NFL history. In 1992, Rypien’s Washington Redskins beat the Buffalo Bills, 37-24. Rypien was the MVP of Super Bowl XXVI.

It’s not exactly fair to call Rypien a one-year wonder. He made a Pro Bowl in 1989, as an injury replacement when Joe Montana and Don Majkowski were hurt. He had a solid run of success from 1988-90. But nothing else in his career approached what he did that 1991 season.

Other players have had exactly one great season in the NFL. Washington had one later on named Robert Griffin III, for example. We’ve seen Super Bowl heroes come and go quickly. Timmy Smith, anyone? But nobody through the history of Super Bowl MVPs has put together a full, great season like Rypien had, and never again reached that level of success before or after. Rypien was one of the best players in football in 1991, and won a title. By 1994 he wasn’t even a starter in the league anymore.

That Super Bowl changed his life in ways we all could guess.

“You can’t write your name, sign an autograph, without writing ‘Super Bowl XXVI MVP,’” Rypien said.

It also changed his life in ways he never could have predicted. He is now consumed with the Rypien Foundation, which helps children with cancer and their families. He’s the group’s chairman, and has helped it grow to fantastic success. It had a net revenue of more than $921,000 in 2015, according to tax returns. It became his life’s mission after losing his 3-year-old son Andrew to cancer in 1998.

Rypien understands that the one great day he had at the Metrodome so many years ago isn’t simply one reason his foundation has been able to help thousands of kids battling cancer.

“It’s the only reason,” Rypien said.

*****

Rypien’s 1991 season didn’t come out of nowhere, but close. His first three seasons as a starter, he had 37 interceptions in 33 games. He was considered too mistake-prone for the Redskins to win big. Late in training camp in 1991 there was still a lingering question about whether Rypien would hold off Stan Humphries for the starting job.

“We thought he was good,” said NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly, who was in Washington’s front office from 1977-99 and was general manager of the 1991 team. “Did we think he was elite? In all honestly, he hadn’t done it enough

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