NFL Players Who Never Won a Super Bowl but Deserved to

With Adrian Peterson’s career closing in on him, the running back has still not won a Super Bowl.

Adrian Peterson

 

Adrian Peterson in 2020.

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At 36, Peterson is the oldest running back in the NFL. While he’s played for multiple teams, his longest stint was with the Minnesota Vikings — from 2007 to 2016 — and he just finished the season with the Seattle Seahawks on injured reserve. He’s the only current NFL player on this list but he earned his spot.

He has the fifth most rushing yards (14,918) in NFL history behind Barry Sanders, has made it to seven Pro Bowls, and has been named the league’s MVP and offensive player of the year. However, Peterson has never made it to the Super Bowl.

In 2019, he told the NFL Network’s Jane Slater that he could see himself playing until 40, although more recently he’s been considering a move into coaching, he told ESPN in January.

Linebacker Junior Seau was a star who fell short with both the Patriots and Chargers in the Super Bowl.

Junior Seau

 

Junior Seau in 1996.

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Seau was a prodigious linebacker, playing an impressive 20 seasons during which he reached the Pro Bowl 12 times and tallied 56 sacks and 18 interceptions. Seau reached the Super Bowl twice: once with San Diego in 1995 and later as a part of the undefeated 2007 New England Patriots squad which lost to the Giants in the Super Bowl. Tragically, the NFL star died by suicide in 2012 and was posthumously inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015.

Eric Dickerson sits atop the record board for single-season rushing yards, but he couldn’t translate that success into a Super Bowl victory.

Eric Dickerson

 

Eric Dickerson in 1984.

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In addition to his iconic goggles, Dickerson stands out in NFL history for setting the record for the most rushing yards in a single season (2,105 in 1984). Throughout his 11 seasons, the Hall of Fame running back made six Pro Bowls and rushed for over 13,000 yards. He never made it to a Super Bowl and lost the only NFC Championship Game he played in 1995 to the Chicago Bears.

Warren Moon is statistically one of the best quarterbacks ever, but he is rarely talked about … likely because he never won a Super Bowl.

Warren Moon

 

Warren Moon in 1992.

William R. Sallaz/Getty Images

Throughout Moon’s 17 seasons, he played for four different teams, threw for just under 50,000 passing yards, and tossed 291 touchdowns. The Hall of Fame and All-Pro quarterback played in nine Pro Bowls but never reached even an AFC or NFC Championship, let alone the Super Bowl.

Terrell Owens lost the only Super Bowl he ever played in.

Terrell Owens

 

Terrell Owens in 2002.

Brian Bahr/Getty Images

The NFL may never see another player as theatrical as Owens. The wide receiver put up incredible stats throughout his 15-season tenure — nearly 16,000 receiving yards, 153 TDs — but his indelible antics and the way he was known to divide locker rooms tend to stand out more to many. His only Super Bowl appearance was with the Eagles in 2005, which they lost to the New England Patriots.

The tough and tenacious Brian Urlacher made it to the Super Bowl with the Bears once but fell short of the win.

Brian Urlacher

 

Brian Urlacher in 2012.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Urlacher was a dominant linebacker who was named Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2000 and AP’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2005, according to his Pro Football Hall of Fame bio. In 2006, he made it to the Super Bowl with the Bears but lost to Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. He and the Bears played in one more NFC Championship Game against the Packers in 2010 but lost.

Tony Gonzalez is arguably the greatest tight end to fall short of winning a Super Bowl.

Tony Gonzalez

 

Tony Gonzalez pictured on the sideline during the final minutes of his last NFL game in 2013.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Before Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce elevated the tight-end position to a new standard, Gonzalez was arguably the best in the game. He never made it to a Super Bowl but came close during an NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers during the 2012-13 season. Gonzalez made the Pro Bowl 14 of his 17 seasons and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2019.

LaDainian Tomlinson is widely considered one of the best running backs in NFL history, but he never made it to the Super Bowl.

LaDainian Tomlinson

 

LaDainian Tomlinson playing in 2006.

John Cordes/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images

In lieu of a Super Bowl victory, the Hall of Fame running back is remembered for numerous accolades including setting the single-season record for points scored (186), winning MVP in 2006, and appearing in five Pro Bowls. In addition to his time spent with the Chargers and Jets, he is also remembered for his ambitious philanthropy.

Anthony Muñoz is one of the greatest offensive linemen in NFL history, but he lost two Super Bowls to the 49ers.

Anthony Muñoz

 

Anthony Muñoz kneels on the field in 1988.

George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Muñoz and his Bengals lost two Super Bowls to the San Francisco 49ers in 1982 and ’89. Despite not winning a Super Bowl, Muñoz still boasts an impressive resume, being named to 11 consecutive Pro Bowls and earning 11 consecutive All-Pro selections.

Similar to Kelly, the Vikings’ Fran Tarkenton made the Super Bowl three times in four years but left empty handed.

Fran Tarkenton

 

Fran Tarkenton throwing a pass during Super Bowl XI on January 9, 1977.

Focus on Sport/Getty Images

OK, maybe Tarkenton understands Kelly’s frustration, if anyone. Tarkenton led the Vikings to football’s biggest stage three times in four years between 1973 to 1976 but lost each time. What’s even worse is that he absolutely broke down during each performance, throwing multiple interceptions and failing to put up the kind of points required to win the Super Bowl. The Hall of Fame quarterback is remembered as the original scrambler and at the time of his retirement, he held many league records, which are still impressive by today’s standards.

Miami Dolphins QB Dan Marino is arguably the most prolific passer in NFL history, but he lost his lone Super Bowl game.

Dan Marino

 

Dan Marino in 1999.

Reuters

Dan Marino made his sole Super Bowl appearance in 1984, which was the same season he threw for a jaw-dropping 5,084 passing yards — he was the first player to throw for over 5,000 yards — and 48 touchdowns. He did make it to two other AFC championships, in 1985 and 1992, but never ended up winning the big show. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

Barry Sanders has the fourth-most rushing yards in NFL history but never won a Super Bowl.

Barry Sanders

 

Barry Sanders playing in 1996.

Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Sanders was the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in his first 10 seasons, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The closest Sanders ever got to the Super Bowl was an NFC Championship Game in 1992 versus the Washington Redskins. Sanders finished his 10-year career with 15,269 rushing yards.

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