The image of a Super Bowl champion is usually some kind of legend placed on a pedestal and rightfully so. They have won the biggest game on the biggest stage and played one of the toughest sports to ever exist. The nature of football is to literally destroy the opposition, mainly the man carrying the ball. Some NFL players will make it a down and others will play 20 years, the game is too unpredictable. With the average career length sitting just over three years long, the window for a Super Bowl is extremely slim so that you have to win where you can and while you can. Nothing can be taken for granted as each player knows that any single play can be their last.
Now with that being said, Super Bowl winners come in many different forms. Sometimes these guys are legends looking for a home to win late in their career before hanging up their pads. Some get lucky and win early on in their career to make sure that they will go down in history. Some have to wait for teams to build and others are beneficiaries of trades. Some players deserve every second of glory and others leave you wondering how they took home the hardware. Here are the 10 best and the 10 worst players to win a Super Bowl since 2000, analyzed case by case.
20 20. Best - Ed Reed
Still playing football for the Hurricanes in Miami at the time, Ed Reed missed the first Ravens Super Bowl in 2000-01. He was drafted in 2002 to a team that was established on defense but needed a compliment to Ray Lewis to lead the defensive backfield. Ed Reed was the perfect fit. Tough, physical, fast and extremely smart, Reed made opposing QBs absolutely miserable and proved his worth by taking home the Defensive Player of the Year in only his third season.
19 19. Worst - Reggie Bush
Now Reggie Bush wasn’t so much the worst Super Bowl winner as much as he has been an NFL disappointment. During his time at USC in which he took home two of three National Championship opportunities and a Heisman trophy his junior year, Reggie Bush was literally revolutionizing the way college football was played. He was electric in every way and with the pairing of a power run game in LenDale White, it made each of them that much more lethal. Not many people can be running full speed and stop on a dime to watch a defender fly by or hurdle a man while gliding 4 yards in the air to score a touchdown. Bush was a rare and special talent.
18 18. Best - Jerome Bettis
There aren’t many guys in the NFL that could completely run through a person and still be liked. Jerome “The Bus” Bettis was an extremely likeable guy with a contagious smile. He did just about as much off of the field as he did on it, and the man was phenomenal on a football field. His influence showed so much so that it earned him the Walter Payton Man of the Year honors in 2001.
17 17. Worst - Tommy Maddox
Tommy Maddox is the definition of a journeyman. The dude has played in three different professional leagues. From the NFL to XFL and Arena league, Maddox has been a part of it all. Tommy started his NFL career in '92 and jumped to three different teams in four years, never registering himself as a starter or player of the future.
16 16. Best - Marvin Harrison
Although Isaac Bruce puts up quite an argument for SB winning receivers in the 2000s, it is impossible to deny Marvin Harrison's productivity during his tenure in Indianapolis with Peyton Manning. At Syracuse where he was a three year starter, Harrison quickly climbed among the receiving ranks at the University. Historically a school with more success in the running game, Harrison changed the scouting report with Donavan McNabb under center.
15 15. Worst - Michael Pittman
Super Bowl XXXVII champ Michael Pittman is just bad enough to make the list. Overall, Pittman had a rather lengthy NFL career at a position that can cycle through players quickly. Pittman was a standout during his time at Fresno State, but he wasn’t close to putting up the same numbers in the league. Rushing for 3,000 total yards in his collegiate career, Pittman wasn’t able to double the yardage in the NFL with over twice as many carries in an 11 year career.
14 14. Best - Michael Strahan
The 45-year-old media personality and co-host of shows like Good morning America and Live with Kelly and Michael, was worth more than just mid-day hour long entertainment and swooning of middle age women. Over 15 seasons Strahan more than cemented himself as a superstar. With a career where he led the league in sacks twice, Strahan dominated opposing offensive lines. He was big, strong, and unbelievably quick for a man of his stature.
13 13. Worst - David Givens
David Givens name was remembered more than his stats would merit as his playing career only lasted five seasons. His four year tenure with New England couldn’t have come at a better time for his sake. Tom Brady was establishing himself as an assassin at the QB position and many benefited including Givens as he was a two time champ in 2003 and 2004.
12 12. Best - Marshall Faulk
Soft spoken Marshall Faulk started his career with a damaged Indianapolis Colts team. After a few rough seasons, the rebuilding process began with Peyton Manning and a young and promising Marshall Faulk. After a monster year from Faulk alongside his new QB, the team needed more help. Thus, Faulk was shipped to St. Louis for a pair of draft picks.
11 11. Worst - Jacoby Jones
Listed as a wide receiver, Jones is primarily used a return man similar to a lesser Devin Hester. Both as a kick and punt returner, Jacoby’s speed will make undisciplined special teams pay the ultimate price. The good side is that he has taken nine total returns to the house in his career, however the bad is that he is extremely fumble prone. Starting in Houston, his role was meant to be bigger as a receiver but during his tenure, the legendary Andre Johnson was just about the only source of aerial movement for the Texans. Jones also proved time and time again that he was not a dependable pass-catcher.
10 10. Best - John Ogden
Standing at 6-9 and weighing in at 345 pounds, the Baltimore Ravens' 4th overall pick in 1996 was an absolute beast. Through Jonathan Ogden’s 12 seasons which were all in a Ravens uniform, he was a mammoth that exuded durability. In his 12 year career, his fewest played games in a season was 11 in his rookie year, and for seven of his 12 years, he started all 16 games.
9 9. Worst - Brandon Browner
When a guy starts and wins two consecutive Super Bowls for two different teams, it is going to be extremely difficult to argue the point that a player isn’t very good. Brandon Browner is that guy. Built more like a tight end than a corner back, Browner stands at 6-foot-4 weighing 220 pounds. He is a physical specimen but he wasn’t made to play the cornerback position.
8 8. Best - Rod Woodson
Although the majority of his career was spent hawking opposing quarterbacks from the Pittsburgh Steelers secondary, Rod Woodson won his lone Super Bowl on the Ray Lewis led Ravens defense. One of the most versatile players to date, Rod played all over the field in college at Purdue. On offense he spent time at running back and wide receiver while on defense was a safety and corner with explosive return capabilities.
7 7. Worst - Byron Maxwell
Before Byron Maxwell inherited the 2nd cornerback position in the “Legion of Boom,” he was a 3rd string corner with Sherman and Browner ahead on the totem pole. This isn’t so much about how well or how poorly Maxwell played during the Seahawks Super Bowl winning year, because his opportunities were less than others. This is about the fact that he did win a Super Bowl, was paid big money because of it two years later, and then was exposed.
6 6. Best - Peyton Manning
The Book of Manning! Although both Eli and Peyton Manning were fortunate enough to each acquire two Super Bowl rings since the start of the millennium, Peyton is locked in near the top of our list. The beginning of this former #1 overall pick's career was no premonition of what was to come. Taking a recently losing franchise in the Indianapolis Colts to a 3-13 record while posting a league high 28 interceptions was not what Manning had envisioned. The situation looked similar to one that his father Archie had faced in New Orleans.
5 5. Worst - David Tyree
In a career that last only seven seasons, David Tyree may be the most memorable name of all backup wide receivers. The most catches that Tyree had eclipsed over the course of a season was 19… 19! Tyree and his locker room talent waited until the biggest stage to prove that his extremely minor role could make a major impact during his six year stint in New York.
4 4. Best - Ray Lewis
Behind the ferocious L.T, Ray Lewis established himself as the next greatest to ever dominate the linebacker position. The 13 time Pro Bowler and two-time Defensive Player of the year was a standout from the time he arrived on campus at the University of Miami until he called it a career in the NFL.
3 3. Worst - Brad Johnson
Yes, both Brad Johnson and Michael Pittman have made the list. The man who seemed like a prototypical back-up QB started at least two games in 12 of his 17 total seasons hanging around the league. It is tough to knock that kind of durability, however when you are inconsistent, that makes the bashing process simpler. He reminds me of a 'play it safe' version of Jon Kitna. He did have his best year for the Bucs, but his job was easy; don’t throw picks and we will win ugly!
2 2. Best- Tom Brady
Why not Peyton Manning at no.1?! Despite the fact that Sir Peyton owns the majority of records for quarterbacks of this era and all prior, Peyton does not have the same playoff and Super Bowl swagger that Touchdown Tommy has had since he came in for an injured Drew Bledsoe. The best 6th round draft pick ever, Tom has proven to be a winner in every aspect of life. Having a face that makes women weak and a wife who is not only beautiful but is also worth twice as much, the four time Super Bowl Champ “lives the dream.”
1 1. Worst - Trent Dilfer
Dilfer and Brad Johnson were all too similar in the way that they won the big game, except Dilfer was far worse. Having Jamal Lewis in his backfield as opposed to a Michael Pittman, the weight was taken completely off of Dilfer. He threw for a total of 12 TDs and 11 interceptions in the 2000-01 season. It isn’t uncommon for some guys in the league to throw 12 TDs in three or four games, but Dilfer did it in eight-plus games as he was originally the backup. The slow and boring play from Dilfer wasn’t enough for the Ravens to lose more than one game while he was under center.
The defense ranked top 5 in virtually every category with Ray Lewis and Rod Woodson basically being player-coaches on the field. Jamal Lewis was on his way to a 1,300 yard rushing season and Dilfer was in the perfect spot. Hand the ball off and limit the turnovers! That was good enough for the current analyst to win a Super Bowl. Career wise, I think Dilfer is a good analyst, I really do. But he is a guy with career numbers of 113 TDs and 129 picks, and a win-loss record of 58-5. On 99% of teams with Dilfer as a starter, he never wins a ring. This was literally the only possibility as he was cut the season following the Super Bowl.
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