NFL Players Who Never Won a Super Bowl But Deserved It

With Adrian Peterson’s career closing in on him, the running back has yet to win a Super Bowl.

Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson in 2020.

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At 37, Peterson is among the oldest running backs in the NFL. Although he has played for several teams, his longest stint was with the Minnesota Vikings from 2007 to 2016. He became a free agent in January 2022 after being released by the Seattle Seahawks.

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

In 2019, he told NFL Network’s Jane Slater who could see himself playing until he was 40, and in December 2022 wrote on Instagram that he still hopes to play. However, he told ESPN in January 2022 that he was also considering a move to the coaching role.

Linebacker Junior Seau was a star that fell short to the Patriots and Chargers in the Super Bowl.

junior sea

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 added 56 sacks and 18 interceptions. Seau has reached the Super Bowl twice: once with San Diego in 1995 and then as part of the New England Patriots’ undefeated 2007 team that lost to the Giants in the Super Bowl. Tragically, the NFL star committed suicide in 2012 and was posthumously inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015.

Eric Dickerson tops the charts for single-season rushing yards, but he hasn’t been able to translate that success into a Super Bowl win.

Eric Dickerson

Eric Dickerson in 1984.

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In addition to his iconic eyewear, Dickerson stands out in NFL history for setting the record for most rushing yards in a single season (2,105 in 1984). Over his 11 seasons, the Hall of Fame running back made six Pro Bowls and rushed for over 13,000 yards. He never made the 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 of all time, but he is rarely talked about… probably because he never won a Super Bowl.

Warren Moon

Warren Moon in 1992.

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

Terrell Owens lost the only Super Bowl he played in.

Terrell Owens

Terrell Owens in 2002.

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The NFL may never see another player as theatrical as Owens. The wide receiver put up incredible stats over his 15-season tenure — nearly 16,000 receiving yards, 153 TDs — but his indelible antics and the way he was known for sharing 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.

Tough, tenacious Brian Urlacher made the Super Bowl with the Bears once, but he couldn’t win.

Brian Urlacher

Brian Urlacher in 2012.

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Urlacher was a dominant linebacker who was named Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2000 and AP Defensive Player of the Year in 2005, according to his Pro Football Hall of Fame biography. In 2006, he reached 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 not to win a Super Bowl.

Tony González

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

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Before Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce raised the tight end position to a new standard, Gonzalez was arguably the best in the game. He never made the Super Bowl, but he came close during an NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers during the 2012-13 season. Gonzalez has 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 the Super Bowl.

LaDainian Tomlinson

LaDainian Tomlinson playing in 2006.

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In lieu of a Super Bowl win, the Hall of Fame running back is remembered for numerous accolades, including a single-season points scoring record (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 Munoz

Anthony Muñoz kneels on the pitch in 1988.

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Muñoz and his Bengals lost two Super Bowls to the San Francisco 49ers in 1982 and 1989. Despite not winning a Super Bowl, Muñoz still has an impressive resume, being named to 11 consecutive Pro Bowls and earning 11 consecutive All-Pro selections .

Similar to Kelly, Fran Tarkenton of the Vikings made it to 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.

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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 and 1976, but lost each time. What’s even worse is that he absolutely broke down during every performance, throwing multiple interceptions and failing to score the kind of points it takes 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, yet he lost his only Super Bowl game.

Dan Marino

Dan Marino in 1999.


Dan Marino made his only Super Bowl appearance in 1984, which was the same season he threw for a jaw-dropping 5,084 yards – he was the first player to throw for over 5,000 yards – and 48 touchdowns. He reached 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 has never won a Super Bowl.

Barry Sanders

Barry Sanders playing in 1996.

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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 came to the Super Bowl was an NFC Championship Game in 1992 against the Washington Redskins. Sanders finished his 10-year career with 15,269 rushing yards.

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