The process of winning a Super Bowl requires contributions from every player on an NFL roster. Every team has stars that soak up the majority of praise, but over the course of an entire NFL season, each guy will be faced with opportunities to make meaningful contributions to winning. From scoring the game-winning touchdown to being the first guy on the sideline handing out high-fives for ‘jobs well done’, it all matters. While often a target for jokes and wise quips from fans, lesser-known players on teams serve a valuable purpose.
Despite their role and significance on the team, many players not deserving of such an honour wind up hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at some point in their careers (some do it more than once!). It’s fine to acknowledge the purpose of a ‘good locker room guy’, or a ‘savvy veteran’ on the roster, but when you consider the amount of undeserving players who fluke their way to ring(s), your blood may start to bubble. Factor in the countless others who never made it to the top (and deserved to - DAN MARINO) and now we’ve reached a full boil. Some of the players you are about to see son't even look like they should be in the NFL, let alone win its biggest prize. Others were exemplary athletes, but they're terrible attitudes or uneven performances shed doubt on whether they deserve those rings on their fingers.
Let’s look at 15 NFL players who have Super Bowl rings they don’t necessarily deserve.
15 David Carr
David Carr was one of many New York Giants players to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the conclusion of the 2011-12 season. A 21-17 Giants’ victory meant Eli Manning had beaten Brady & Belichick for a second time to win a Super Bowl. As for Carr’s involvemenet, he did not play a single snap the entire season. The former first overall pick out of Fresno State is among the bigger busts the NFL Draft has ever produced. For his career, which lasted all but 94 games, Carr posted a 23-56 record (starting appearances only), and threw more interceptions than touchdowns (71 INTs compared to 65 TDs), all while completing only 59.7% of his passes. Brief layovers in Carolina (6 games) and San Francisco (1 game), Carr would have two different stints with the Giants, including his final season.
14 Trent Dilfer
Player Trent Dilfer lost many games, only to have his stout defences win in spite of him. A regular season winning percentage of just over 51% falls slightly short of his career completion percentage (55.5%). Both of those numbers are not starter worthy…factor in a Touchdown : Interception ratio of 113 : 129 and it’s painstakingly clear that Dilfer benefitted greatly from his supporting casts. In the 2000-01 season, the Baltimore Ravens rode one of the league’s all-time great defences to a Super Bowl victory. In 4 post-season games that season, Dilfer threw for 590 yards (average of 147.5 yards per contest), 3 TDs and 4 INTs, and completed less than 50% of his passes. It didn’t matter who was behind centre, the Ravens defence led by Ray Lewis yielded just 10 points per game to opponents.
13 Brandon Browner
Browner rose to prominence north of the border, playing four seasons for the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders. Having won a Grey Cup in 2008 and being named a CFL All-Star three out of four years, Browner headed down south, signing with the Seattle Seahawks in 2011. His second season with Seattle would see the team win the Super Bowl, dominating the Broncos 43-8. Unfortunately for Browner, he was suspended earlier in the year for violating the NFL’s PED rules, preventing him from playing in the Super Bowl. That wouldn’t prevent him from getting a ring! Fast forward to the 2014-15 season, Browner would sign with the New England Patriots and as is often the case, they would go on to win it all, giving Browner a second title and ring. Call me crazy, but I find that reward a tad excessive for what was otherwise a very mediocre career.
12 Matt Flynn
Flynn served as Aaron Rodgers backup for four seasons, starting only two games over that span. Drafted in the 7th round, expectations for Flynn couldn’t be much lower and so long as he could wear a ball cap and hold a clipboard, he’d have a job for the foreseeable future. In the 2010 season, the Packers would take home championship honours, giving Flynn the title of ‘Super Bowl Champion’. The following year would see him play the game of his life. Starting the final game of the season (the Packers having already clinched), Flynn threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns, causing many to question if him and Rodgers had switched jerseys pre-game. He would go on to sign a 3-year, $19 million contract with the Seattle Seahawks in the off-season… Flynn would play for 3 teams that year before returning to the Packers in 2014, his final season.
11 Plaxico Burress
Dude shot himself in the leg, while entering an exotic dance club, in sweatpants. Huh? That alone should rob you of all your Lombardi worthiness. Apparently not, and Plaxico Burress is living proof having played a vital role in the Giants’ ruining of the Patriots’ near perfect season. Before he took to harming himself, Plaxico put the final bullet through the heart of New England when he caught the go-ahead touchdown pass from Eli Manning with 35 seconds remaining in Super Bowl XLII. The 2011-12 campaign would be the most productive of his career in terms of touchdowns (12). Before becoming a popular target for Manning in the Big Apple, Burress was a dynamic playmaker in Pittsburgh. He would never win a ring in black and yellow however. More recently, Burress was hired as coaching intern for the Arizona Cardinals. I don’t suspect he’ll get a ring there anytime soon, but if you ask me, one is more than enough.
10 Michael Irvin
Irvin played every single down of his career for one team, the Dallas Cowboys. He would go on to win three Super Bowls, amass almost 12,000 receiving yards and score 65 touchdowns. Outside of football, Irvin often found himself not far from trouble. Throughout his career, even post retirement as an analyst, Irvin has been accused of assault three times, claimed to be the victim of a failed carjacking (the case was eventually dropped), and has been arrested several times for various offences. I'm not one to judge a book by its cover, but when you watch and listen to Irvin every Sunday it doesn’t take long to deduce the obvious… he’s off his rocker, and has been for quite some time. Despite having a handful of loose screws, Irvin turned in a Hall of Fame career, highlighted by a trio of rings. A member of Jerry’s World from day one as well.
9 Jeremy Shockey
Tell me there exists a bigger jerk than Jeremy Shockey, and I’ll call you a liar. There simply is nobody capable of achieving that feat. I’ll admit, his numbers are impressive. There was a time that saw him occupy a top spot amongst the NFL’s elite tight ends. Shockey appeared in four Pro Bowls from 2002 to 2006, including First-Team All Pro honours in 2002. At this point, I’ve used up about all my allotted words for Shockey compliments. Obligatory praise aside, I find Jeremy Shockey to be one of the least likeable people to play football since the turn of the millennium. The fact he was able to finish his career with not one but TWO Super Bowl titles makes me question the very existence of karma (something I’ve longed subscribed to believing in). I can’t think of many people less deserving of the distinction of ‘Super Bowl Champion’.
8 Ray Lewis
Dilfer’s teammate (and the emotional leader of the 2000-01 Ravens championship squad), Ray Lewis’ career is among the most impressive of any linebacker in NFL history. Over 1500 tackles in the regular season to go along with two titles, Lewis was a dominant force all over the field for 17 seasons. My problem with Ray Lewis…he was too much of a force off the field. And not in a good way. Many recall Lewis’ involvement in a murder investigation stemming from an incident that took place in the weeks leading up to Super Bowl 34. Two individuals lost their lives following a fight. Lewis would be questioned by police, and eventually reached a plea deal with investigators. The suit Lewis wore that night has still never been found, and blood from one of the victim’s was found in Lewis’ limo. Something tells me Ray knows far more than he’s letting on.
7 Bill Romanowski
Romanowski did not miss a game in 15 seasons (his 16th and final season saw him only play 3 games). An ironman in his own right, Romanowski fell one ring short of a handful for his career. Despite winning four titles, Romanowski’s career was blemished by various altercations with teammates and opponents. He’s even got in hot water post-retirement. His playing days saw him fined multiple times for kicking opponents in the head, helmet-to-helmet hits, and even spitting in the face of an opposing player. In 2003, he punched teammate Marcus Williams in the face, crushing Williams’ eye socket in the process. The injury would force Williams to retire, and ultimately sue Romanowski for damages (Williams would eventually receive $340,000 for damages and lost wages). You’d be hard pressed to find many who believe Romanowski is deserving of one Lombardi Trophy, much less four.
6 Tommy Maddox
The greatest quarterback the XFL has ever seen (which by the way, may be making a comeback)! For his NFL career, Maddox was not as dominant (15-20-1 record as a starter). Four teams in nine seasons, most notably playing 5 seasons with the Steelers, Maddox nabbed a Super Bowl ring in his final year in Pittsburgh. Though he never played in the post-season the year the Steelers took home the honours, Maddox did start two games in the regular season, losing both. Once he became an afterthought in the NFL, Maddox attempted to play in the Arena Football League, signing with the Philadelphia Soul, but was waived shortly after signing it. In reality, few will likely remember seeing Maddox on an NFL field but I assure you he did make several cameos, all of which underwhelmed…and yet, he’s still got a ring.
5 Peyton Manning
Now this one might get a little dicey but it’s rooted in Manning’s abysmal playoff performances. Most are familiar with Manning’s playoff struggles, both as a Colt and Bronco. I am not going to address his regular-season dominance because everybody knows how great he was, and arguing the contrary borders on insanity. However, questioning Manning’s merit of a Super Bowl is somewhat valid when you examine his post-season numbers in the two seasons he won it all. In 2006 with the Colts, Manning posted a QB rating of 70.5 in four post-season games. He threw 3 touchdowns compared to 7 interceptions. Fast forward to his final year in 2015-16, when the Broncos rode a dominant defence to a title (much like Dilfer’s Ravens). In 3 games in those playoffs, Manning posted a 75.4 rating, almost 8 points higher than his regular season mark (67.9). He was brutal all season yet the Broncos still triumphed.
4 Joe Flacco
Joe Flacco won a title and immediately handcuffed his team by insisting on signing a record-breaking contract. The Ravens, fresh off winning the controversial Lights Out Super Bowl in New Orleans, gave Joe Flacco a 6-year $120.6 million deal. A byproduct of that deal was the team losing several other key pieces due to a lack of cap space brought on by Flacco’s deal. Since signing that contract (he’s actually signed a 3-year extension since then as well), Flacco has underwhelmed with his on-field performance. With only one post-season appearance since his confetti shower in New Orleans, Flacco’s struggles (coupled with an off-season injury) actually had the Ravens entertaining the thought of signing Colin Kaepernick this off-season. They would eventually opt to stay the course with Flacco, and the Ravens presently sit on the outside looking in, in danger of missing the playoffs for a third straight season.
3 Jimmy Garoppolo
Being Tom Brady’s backup should qualify for Make-A-Wish consideration. Jimmy G occupied the league’s easiest job for the better part of four seasons before being traded to San Francisco this season. Despite playing extremely limited snaps during his Patriots tenure, Garoppolo walked away with two Super Bowl rings for his troubles. He now appears to be in the running for the 49ers starting spot beyond this season, although there figures to be some stiff competition given the quarterbacks scheduled to hit free agency this off-season. Throw in the fact the draft is expected to have several highly touted quarterbacks up for grabs, and it’s really anybody’s guess who will be behind centre for San Francisco in 2018-19. None of them have two Super Bowl rings though!
2 Eli Manning
Eli Manning has won two Super Bowls, beating Tom Brady & Bill Belichick both times. That alone may be grounds for enshrinement in Canton. Outside of his heroic post-season performances, Peyton’s younger brother has had a career highlighted by mediocrity, reinforced with numbers that are pedestrian at best. For his career, Manning has only posted QB ratings exceeding 90 four times (Tom Brady, for example, has done that 11 times). Known more for his longevity (started 210 consecutive games before being benched for one game this season) and his penchant for elevating his game come playoff time, Eli’s numbers will never cause you to gasp in amazement. In a way, Eli is the opposite of Peyton. Despite their seemingly polar opposite performance patterns, both Manning’s appear destined to finish with two rings apiece. Whether they deserve any of them, I’ll leave that to all of you to debate.
1 Jared Lorenzen
And now for the GRAND finale… The man they call The Pillsbury Throwboy & The Hefty Lefty, Jared Lorenzen ate his way to a Super Bowl ring in 2007, serving as Eli Manning’s backup (along w/ David Carr). Known more for his weight issues than for his pocket presence, Lorenzen only attempted 8 passes the year the Giants won the Super Bowl, and simultaneously ended the Patriots bid for a perfect season. Four completed passes, 28 yards passing, a Super Bowl ring, and a day with the Lombardi Trophy… not bad for a guy who managed to top 300 pounds while attempting to play quarterback in the NFL. Lorenzen would go on to play football in lower tier leagues throughout the United States, even becoming commissioner for one of the league’s he played in. One thing is certain however: He almost certainly has the BIGGEST ring on the team, possibly rivalling those of the offensive line.