The best players to never win a Super Bowl

Profile Picture: Robert Criscola

June 3rd, 2020

Legendary NFL head coach Vince Lombardi once said, "Some of us will do our jobs well and some will not, but we will be judged by only one thing – the result." For these five football icons, the lack of a Super Bowl ring has held them back in discussions among the greatest of all-time. Here are the top five NFL players who never won a Super Bowl.

5. Tony Gonzalez

Tony Gonzalez was the standard by which all other tight ends were measured in his playing days (1997-2013). The 14-time Pro Bowler notched 111 touchdowns over 17 seasons – 12 with the Chiefs, five with the Falcons.

Sadly for Gonzalez, he played on a lot of mediocre teams. Even when he made the postseason, things seldom went right for the Hall of Famer, as his 1-6 playoff record indicates. He never got to play in a Super Bowl.

4. Bruce Smith

Bruce Smith was a fixture on the Bills’ defensive line for 15 years and retired as the NFL’s all-time sacks leader (200). But as those well-versed in football history know, Buffalo has a checkered Super Bowl past.

Smith and the Bills made four straight Super Bowls between 1990 and 1993 and lost them all, the first in agonizing fashion to the Giants (two words: "wide right") before getting blown out by the Redskins once and the Cowboys twice. Smith could hardly be blamed as he tallied 8.5 sacks in those four tilts.

3. Barry Sanders

When Barry Sanders famously hung up his cleats in the prime of his life (age 30), a year removed from his 1997 MVP campaign, he had to reconcile the fact that he never played in a Super Bowl.

Unfortunately for Sanders – the only running back to ever rush for 1,000 or more yards in each of his first 10 seasons – his Lions went 1-5 in playoff games between 1991 and 1997.

2. Randy Moss

There were a couple of close calls for the well-traveled Hall of Fame wideout, but Randy Moss never earned a Super Bowl ring.

Moss got to the conference championship game twice with the Vikings, the team that drafted him, before moving on to New England. He was part of the Patriots’ undefeated campaign that was shockingly stopped by the Giants in Super Bowl XLII.

In his last year in the NFL, Moss was on a 49ers team that lost to the Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII.

1. Dan Marino

In 1984, just his second NFL season, Dan Marino broke nearly every meaningful single-season record a quarterback could, including passing yards (5,084) and touchdown passes (48). But he ran into a powerhouse 49ers team led by Joe Montana in Super Bowl XIX, and lost 38-16.

The future seemed bright for the 23-year-old stud, but Marino never got another shot at championship glory. He retired the all-time leader in passing yards (61,361) and touchdown passes (420), but his numbers have since been eclipsed. 

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