We see a lot of parity for the most part in the NFL these days (at least on the NFC side of things), but that wasn’t always the case. Throughout much of the 1990s, it was the same handful of teams that found their way to the Super Bowl year in and year out. It started when the Bills dominated the AFC for several seasons while three teams from the NFC East took turns beating each other up for the conference title.
By the mid 1990s, Hall of Fame careers would be defined by Super Bowl wins, especially from those that waited a long time for their turn. There were quite a few Super Bowl blowouts in the 1990’s, but the later part of the decade produced some really fine games. Many of the quarterbacks from that era are still in the public eye while others have decided to live a more traditional retirement.
Today, we look back on all of those starting quarterbacks from the Super Bowls of the 1990’s. We are actually going by when the season started, so the final Super Bowl on our list was actually played in the new millennium by a few weeks. Here is every winning and losing Super Bowl quarterback from the 1990s, and an update on where they are today.
13 Jim Kelly
A former first round pick from Miami in 1983, Jim Kelly actually sat out to start his NFL career by playing with the Houston Gamblers of the USFL. Eventually, Kelly would join the team that drafted him and began his Buffalo Bills career. Kelly was able to take the Bills to four straight Super Bowls, but the team lost all four of them. It started with the Giants in Super Bowl XXV, then the Redskins in Super Bowl XXVI before losing back-to-back games to the Cowboys in Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII.
Kelly would end his career after the 1996 season having passed for 35,467 career yards and 237 touchdowns, joining the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002. Kelly has mainly been focusing on charity work since his career ended, especially after the death of his son Hunter in 1997 after fighting Krabbe disease. Kelly has had health problems of his own as he is a cancer survivor, and was cleared in 2014. Kelly does appear in the media from time-to-time, but mainly focuses on helping youth football and philanthropy.
12 Jeff Hostetler
The first of the three quarterbacks to defeat Jim Kelly’s Bills in the Super Bowl was Jeff Hostetler of the Giants. New York would win the game by the slimmest of margins (20-19) after a missed field goal by Scott Norwood. Hostetler spent 14 years in the league with the Giants, Raiders and Redskins, calling it quits after 1998 with a total of 16,430 yards and 94 touchdowns.
Hostetler was a West Virginia man through and through, deciding to head back home after his career ended. Hostetler is now near his alma mater of West Virginia in Morgantown, where he is running a construction company. For the most part, Hostetler has lived a very quiet post-retirement life, but does offer up his advice for quarterbacks and his feelings on the game when asked.
11 Mark Rypien
The second quarterback to defeat the Bills was Mark Rypien of the Washington Redskins. Rypien was actually born in Canada, but attended Washington State before becoming a 1986 sixth round pick by the Redskins. When Rypien took over the high powered Redskins offense in the late 1980’s, they were almost unstoppable. When 1991 came around, he led one of the most potent offenses in NFL history.
Rypien’s production started to wane after the Super Bowl XXVI victory, but found a career as a backup with several teams before leaving the NFL after the 2002 season. Like his coach, Joe Gibbs, Rypien decided to get into NASCAR after the NFL, but his time was brief. Rypien spends a lot of time golfing, as well as watching his family play sports. His nephew, Brett Rypien, is the quarterback at Boise State.
10 Troy Aikman
Troy Aikman would end up on the winning side of the Super Bowl three times throughout the 1990’s. He beat the Bills in back-to-back years in Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII, and then led the Cowboys to a win over the Steelers in Super Bowl XXX. Aikman played through the 2000 season after being the top overall pick by the Cowboys back in 1989, and became a Hall of Famer in 2006.
Aikman has been very visible since retiring, as he immediately went into the media side of football. In his first year of retirement, Aikman became a color analyst for Fox, and was promoted to the top spot in his second year. It’s a job that Aikman still holds 15 years later as he and Joe Buck make up the A-team for Fox’s NFL coverage that broadcast the most recent Super Bowl.
9 Steve Young
Finally getting away from the Bills and the NFC East, we find the former BYU quarterback that had to live in the shadow of Joe Montana. Steve Young played in the USFL and the Buccaneers before joining the 49ers in 1987. In 1991, Young would finally get his chance to start for San Francisco after Montana went to Kansas City. Young eventually won the Super Bowl, defeating the Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX 49-26.
Young would finish his career as a seven-time Pro Bowler, two-time MVP and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005. Since retiring in 1999, Young has had several business ventures and has spent a lot of time at his alma mater. For the most part, however, Young has gone the Aikman route and has been active in media. Young is an analyst for ESPN, mainly for their Monday Night Football coverage.
8 Stan Humphries
The first losing quarterback on the list not named Jim Kelly, Stan Humphries was actually the backup for Mark Rypien and the Redskins from 1988 through their Super Bowl winning season in 1991. Humphries joined the Chargers in 1992, and played with the team for the rest of his career that ended after the 1997 season. Humphries ended his career with 89 touchdowns and 17,191 passing yards, making the Chargers Hall of Fame.
Humphries is another quarterback that went into the analyst game, though not as high-profiled as Aikman or Young. Humphries has been an analyst for college sports, but has also spent time coaching. Humphries was an assistant with Louisiana-Monroe once he retired, but then joined the school’s women's basketball staff in 2014.
7 Neil O’Donnell
Surprisingly enough, a Steelers quarterback only appears once on this entire list, and it’s Neil O’Donnell. O’Donnell was at the helm for Pittsburgh when they fell to Dallas in Super Bowl XXX by a score of 27-17. O’Donnell not only spent time with Pittsburgh, but also played for the Jets, Bengals and Titans before calling it quits after the 2003 season. O’Donnell finished with 21,690 yards and 120 touchdowns.
O’Donnell started to work as an analyst for the Titans in Nashville for a few years before leaving in 2007. During that year, O’Donnell started a new job with FIeldTurf, the company that lays down the playing surface for many different athletic fields. O’Donnell is a representative for the company, and was on hand when his alma mater installed his company’s turf.
6 Brett Favre
After playing one season in Atlanta, Brett Favre was traded to the Packers and eventually found his way into the starting role in Green Bay. With his talent, it was only a matter of time before Favre made the Super Bowl. Favre would play in back-to-back Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl XXXI against the Patriots, but losing the following game to the Broncos. Favre made 11 Pro Bowls and won three MVPs while shattering records in his career that ended in 2010.
Favre became a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016, and has mostly been living a quiet life. Favre has had offers to join as a full-time analyst with a few different networks, but has turned them all down. For the most part, you have to watch jeans or copper bracelet commercials to see Favre, though he did return to Lambeau Field in 2015 to join the Packers Hall of Fame.
5 Drew Bledsoe
Drew Bledsoe was the former first overall pick for the Patriots in 1993 out of Washington State, and helped lead the Patriots to Super Bowl XXXI before ultimately falling to Favre and the Packers. Bledsoe remained the starter until early in the 2001 season before he was injured and replaced by Tom Brady. Bledsoe went to Buffalo and then Dallas, ending his career after the 2006 season.
Bledsoe started up a winery with his friend after retiring back in his home state of Washington, and actually ended up being successful. Outside of that venture, Bledsoe has been inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame and now lives in Bend, Oregon. There, he is working as an offensive coordinator for Summit High School. Like Favre, he has been interested in staying away from being an analyst.
4 John Elway
10 years before Bledsoe, John Elway was the top overall pick by the Colts, but spent his entire career with the Broncos. Elway was already considered an all-time great by the time Super Bowl XXXII rolled around. In that game, Elway helped the Broncos defeat the Packers, and then returned for one more season that saw the Broncos defeat the Falcons. Elway then retired with nine Pro Bowls and a Hall of Fame career in his pocket.
Elway was the co-owner of the Colorado Crush team in the Arena Football League shortly after retirement before the team came to an end. Elway has also had several business ventures outside of football, but is most known for returning to the Broncos. In early 2011, Elway was named the executive vice president of football operations with his former team, quickly becoming general manager. Elway has seen a lot of success in the role, and won Super Bowl 50 as the team’s general manager.
3 Chris Chandler
The second of John Elway’s two Super Bowl wins came at the expense of Chris Chandler and the 14-2 Atlanta Falcons. It was the only Super Bowl appearance for Chandler, who had been playing since the 1988 season. Chandler wrapped up his Falcons career in 2001 before spending three seasons with the Bears and Rams, retiring after the 2004 campaign.
Though he’s from Everett, Washington, Chandler decided to move to San Diego after retiring from the NFL. It seems that a lot of former quarterbacks either become involved in the media or on the golf course, and Chandler is certainly the latter. Chandler spends a lot of time on the links, even winning a few tournaments along the way. For the most part, Chandler has been very quiet and is still living in San Diego, which is a nice place to spend retirement if you like perfect weather year-round.
2 Kurt Warner
One of the greatest underdog stories in NFL history, Kurt Warner went from NFL washout to Arena League star to NFL Europe player to grocery bagger. Then, the St. Louis Rams came calling, allowing Warner to be Trent Green’s backup. After Green went down with an injury, Warner got the starting nod. With a high powered offense around him, Warner reached the Super Bowl in 1999 as the league’s MVP, winning Super Bowl XXXIV over the Titans 23-16.
Warner would win one more MVP award in his career, playing with the Giants and Cardinals before retiring after the 2009 season. Warner would join the NFL Network the next year, and has been working as an analyst ever since. Warner has also been very active in philanthropy and his faith, starting the First Things First Foundation. Still very visible in the public eye, Warner is also hoping to reach the Pro Football Hall of Fame soon.
1 Steve McNair
Unfortunately, we have to end our list on a tragic note. Steve McNair was the quarterback that came out of nowhere with Alcorn State to be the third overall pick by the Oilers (now Titans) in 1995. McNair was a star, making three Pro Bowl teams and winning the 2003 MVP Award. His only trip to the Super Bowl was that loss against the Rams, where the Titans were just one yard short of potentially sending the game into overtime.
McNair’s career ended in 2007 after two seasons with the Ravens, announcing his retirement in the spring of 2008. McNair was enjoying a quiet retirement after his fine career when the unthinkable happened on July 4, 2009. It had turned out that his lover Jenni Kazemi had shot him in a condominium in Nashville. Fans were shocked by the news, and former colleagues from the NFL offered their condolences.