Mark Rypien was the other sixth-round quarterback who went on to become a Super Bowl MVP. Like Tom Brady, Rypien didn’t come into the NFL with a lot of hype after being selected by the Washington Redskins with the 146th overall selection. Also like Brady, Rypien guided his team to a Super Bowl championship and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Mark Rypien’s NFL career
Mark Rypien played his college ball at Washington State and was the eighth quarterback taken in the 1986 NFL draft. Two kickers and a punter were selected ahead of Rypien, who went on to play 104 games in the NFL and was a part of a pair of Super Bows.
Rypien was known as one of the best long-ball passers in the league. The joke back then was most of his short passes were wobbly passes, otherwise known as ducks. Former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said he always wanted a guy who could throw the deep ball. “If I was going to pick one thing for the quarterback to do, it’s throw the deep ball,” Gibbs said. “Mark Rypien’s sideline throws would wobble and didn’t look all that pretty. But that man could throw the deep stuff.”
Rypien’s first two seasons in the NFL were spent injured nursing various injuries. He spent his second season behind starter Doug Williams, who guided the Redskins to a Super Bowl XXII victory. Rypien made a name for himself in 1989 after he was named the Redskins starter. That season he threw for 3,768 yards and 22 touchdowns. He completed 58.8 percent of his passes and was named to the Pro Bowl.
He went on to start four more seasons in Washington and helped the Redskins win another title, claiming Super Bowl XXVI. The injury bug bit him again in 1993 and he was released in 1994.
Rypien named Super Bowl MVP
Mark Rypien had his best season in 1991 when he guided the Washington Redskins to a 14-2 mark in the regular season. Rypien and the Redskins also cruised through the playoffs, defeating the Atlanta Falcons 24-7 and then crushing the Detroit Lions 41-10 in the NFC Championship Game.
During the season, Rypien completed 59.1 of his passes and threw for 3,564 yards and 28 touchdowns. He was selected to his second Pro Bowl. The Redskins went on to play the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI.
In Washington’s 37-24 victory, Rypien completed 18 of 33 passes and threw for 292 yards and pair of touchdowns. His 10-yard touchdown pass to Earnest Byner gave the Redskins a 10-0 as Washington took a 17-0 halftime lead.
After Buffalo cut the deficit to 24-10 in the third quarter, Rypien connected with Gary Clark on a 30-yard touchdown pass to blow the game open. Rypien was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Life after football
Things haven’t been easy for Rypien since he hung up his football cleats. Rypien admits he has been in some ‘dark places’ since his football career ended and he believes it’s a result of the numerous hits he’s taken while playing 26 years of organized football.
He has had verbal outbursts at random, unexpected times. He’s had mood swings, memory lapses and has made some poor decisions, including a domestic violence issue and an unsuccessful suicide attempt. He’s not hiding from anyone. He’s willing to tell his story. And he has.
“Let’s address this now,” Rypien said in 2018. “Let me share my story so others can share theirs. Let’s get rid of this silence that happens when you’re caught up in this cycle and you don’t know how to find the help I’ve been afforded. There are ways to get help. There’s great work going on in our community. But we need to team up and do more.”
One day, Rypien left a 20-minute audio suicide message at home for his wife Danielle to find, and he disappeared.
“I called the police, so there’s probably a record,” Danielle said. “I told them I didn’t know where he is and he might already be dead because he left the note hours ago. We couldn’t find him. I called him. I called the family and they called him. The police called him. Eventually, he called back.”