MINNEAPOLIS -- He wears a dowdy haircut, has a tendency to look awkward on a football field, and doesn't immediately remind anyone of, say, Terry Bradshaw.
But when Mark Rypien revised his image last night, he wiped the slate clean.
No more second-class labels for Rypien.
"I can understand the bit about me being an average-looking guy with a weak haircut," he said, "but I took a little exception to the charisma bit. I think I have a little charisma."
Charisma is in the eye of the beholder. And what the nation saw last night at the Metrodome was a 29-year-old quarterback come into his own.
Passing for 292 yards and two touchdowns, Rypien steered the Washington Redskins to a 37-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI. But the implications went far beyond the Most Valuable Player award he took.
What Rypien presented was the best argument he could for a new, megabucks contract.
Rypien's old contract officially expired at the end of the Super Bowl. It was a one-year deal for $1.25 million that he reluctantly signed after a 10-day holdout last August. As a Super-Bowl winning quarterback, that salary figures to at least double.
But if that was the end result of his greatest victory, it was not the foremost thought on his mind.
"I didn't play this game for money," he said. "I played it for the feeling and emotion of doing something."
After throwing three interceptions in an NFC championship game loss at San Francisco last year, Rypien had a point to prove. And he knew it.
"When you get criticized, there's usually a reason behind it," he said. "After the San Francisco game last year, I knew that I had to do something. I took the attitude of going out and making myself a better player. I needed to step up and make some plays. I made up my mind to make this my year."
He lost 18 pounds in the offseason, improved his footwork and delivered in aces. He threw 28 touchdown passes in a the regular season and four more in the playoffs.
"He lived up to everything we could have asked him to do this year," said Redskins coach Joe Gibbs. "He stayed healthy, which was my biggest question, and he played extremely well. He's very bright. His confidence built as we started winning."
"Mark has answered every question [raised about him] this year," said tackle Joe Jacoby. "He started from Day 1 at training camp and I think he put a final touch on it today. He did well all year for us, and I'm happy for him. He deserves everything he gets."
Against the Bills, Rypien completed 18 of 33 passes, hitting Earnest Byner for a 10-yard touchdown in the first half and Gary Clark for a 30-yard score in the second.
Even before the game, he had a feeling this would be his night.
"I had a special feeling when I went out onto the field and looked around," he said. "My dad passed away four years ago and I thought about that. He was a great inspiration. It would have been great had he been here, but I knew he was looking on . . . from a better seat."