The NFL is a league filled with many great successful players that shine on Sundays. However, there is one thing that describes each players’ legacy. Super Bowl rings. Without Super Bowl rings, it is hard to cement many players’ legacies. Football is a team sport, many players will have their own individual success, but at the end of each game it is a team sport. With any sport, winning is the key to success.
Many players are put on a pedestal because of the amount of Super Bowl rings they have. Tom Brady is known for this because of winning five Super Bowls. Other players, it is hard to give them that legendary status due to the failed attempts of not being able to win a Super Bowl. We have seen great players such as Tony Romo, Chad Johnson, and Barry Sanders play outstanding careers, but unfortunately, they were never able to achieve the greatest achievement to have in the NFL. We have just seen on Tuesday, July 11th, Calvin Johnson openly admitted that he would retire from the NFL due to the Detroit Lions not having a chance at winning a Super Bowl.
For many great players currently in the NFL, they will never win a Super Bowl. There are many reasons that could go along with why these players will never achieve greatness. Old age, poor team, the list can go on and on. Some of the NFL’s most popular players, will never get that opportunity in February to hold on to the Lombardi Trophy.
Here are Top 15 NFL Players That Will End Their Careers Without A Ring:
15 Joe Thomas
I think this headline may answer the question already. Joe Thomas is known as one of the best offensive lineman in the NFL. He is the captain for the Cleveland Browns, which may be unfortunate for him. It doesn’t seem like Thomas will be leaving the team anytime soon, and it doesn’t seem like many other teams would want him considering his age. After this year’s draft, many may argue that the Browns are onto something. Sadly, their time for a Super Bowl is still some ways to go. The Browns have only had one winning season since Thomas was drafted in 2007.
The Browns still have a few more years of rebuilding to put the pieces together to make this team even have a chance in the playoffs. A team coming off of a 1-15 season, it does not look promising for the team, or Thomas. Unfortunately for Thomas, as loyal as he has been to the Browns, will never have the opportunity come close to a Lombardi Trophy.
14 Ndamakung Suh
Ndamakung Suh was known as one of the best defensive tackles in the league. As he took a bit of a setback when joining the Dolphins, he is still one of the most popular defensive lineman in the league. Suh played for the Lions for 5 years before joining with the Dolphins in 2015. Suh has been known for his aggressive playing style, which has gotten him into a bit of trouble during his career.
At 30 years old, he plays in the division with the best team in the NFL, the New England Patriots. With Brady openly saying he will play for another 5-6 years, it does not seem pretty for the Dolphins, or Suh. The Dolphins are a wildcard team at best. They are still in the process of figuring out their team’s identity. As long as the Brady is in the AFC East, it does not seem that the Dolphins will not be very successful for a few years. Suh’s career will end being known as one of the most violent defensive linemen to play the game.
13 Carson Palmer
Many say that Carson Palmer is one Super Bowl ring from him being a Hall of Famer. Palmer has shown that he can compete at the highest level in this league, but has come short of making it to the big stage. The closet Palmer ever came to the Super Bowl, was in the 2015 season when the Cardinals lost in the NFC Championship game against the Carolina Panthers. Under the spotlight with everything on the line, Palmer played a terrible game against the Panthers throwing four interceptions in a 49-15 loss.
Palmer still seems to have the talent to compete after finishing the 2016 season with 26 touchdowns and a 61.0 completion percentage. Unfortunately, father time has caught up to Palmer as he will turn 38 at the end of the 2017 season. Football is a sport that it’s tough to play past 40, and with a team that finished 7-8-1, it doesn’t seem likely that Palmer will win a Super Bowl during his career. With so many young stars entering the NFC such as Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz, it’s going to be hard for Palmer to keep up with these young guys. Palmer’s career will be defined by his regular season performance, but the failure to win a Super Bowl during his career will hurt his chances at entering the NFL Hall of Fame.
12 Greg Olsen
Here comes the first player on the list who has made a Super Bowl before, but will never win one. Greg Olsen is a tight end for the Carolina Panthers. As many know, the Panthers lost in Super Bowl 50 to the Denver Broncos. After a 15-1 season rolling through the playoffs, many said the Panthers were the favorite to win.
Here’s the problem with the Panthers, they are very inconsistent. It all looked too good to be true during the 2015 season, but the Panthers showed that they couldn’t deal with success and playing on the big stage. A lot of this has to do with quarterback Cam Newton, which unfortunately affects his 32-year-old tight end. Many would say that Cam should be on the list, not necessarily Olsen. With Olsen’s age and the competition in the NFC, it seems unlikely that the Panthers will win a Super Bowl within the next few years. Cam Newton has the chance to win a Super Bowl later in his career, but unfortunately with a weak offensive line, Greg Olsen will not be a part of that Super Bowl team.
11 Darren Sproles
Darren Sproles has been a fan favorite for many NFL fans since he entered the league in 2005. Sproles is a 5’6, 190 pounds running back for the Philadelphia Eagles. Many fans have loved him for being such a small, yet powerful running back. Ever since Sproles entered the league, he has played in 10 playoff games. It seems that all through Sproles’ career he has played for a team with talent, but not enough talent for a championship.
One of fans’ favorite players is getting older, having turned 34 in June. Carson Wentz looks like he could turn the Eagles into a championship team in the future, but there still needs more rebuilding on both ends of the ball till they can be considered true playoff contenders. Fortunate enough for Sproles, he has lasted fairly long for a running back. But after many indications that hey may retire after this upcoming season, the dream of seeing Sproles hold up that Lombardi Trophy doesn’t look too promising.
10 Alex Smith - Kansas City Chiefs
Alex Smith has played for one of the most dominant teams in the NFL, the Kansas City Chiefs. A team that this past season won the AFC West with a 12-4 record, may seem like they are set up for a Super Bowl win in the future. The Chiefs are stacked all throughout their team, and may be one of the most balanced teams in the NFL. This team is surely set to have a future of success, but there is one problem. Alex Smith.
Alex Smith is a serviceable quarterback. He can make some throws and have decent games, but he’s not that electrifying player that teams need to get them to the next level. In the 2017 NFL Draft, the Chiefs traded up to select Patrick Mahomes. This move may have made it clearer that the Chiefs are arriving to that point in time where they will move on from Smith. The Chiefs most likely will let Smith start this upcoming season, and maybe the season after that too. But with a quarterback that can’t put his team on the back, it doesn’t seem like he will see a Super Bowl in his career.
9 LeSean McCoy
LeSean McCoy is arguably one of the best running backs in the NFL. He just topped off the 2016 season with 1,267 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. McCoy is a dominant running back that can be a factor both in the run game and the pass game. However, McCoy plays for a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 1999. With a team that is unsure of their identity and who will be playing at the quarterback position, it is tough to believe the Bills will in playoff contention anytime soon. LeSean McCoy was part of a Bills team that just last year lead first in the NFL in rushing. Even with such a dominant rushing attack, the Bills still finished 3rd in the AFC East with a 7-9 record. It doesn’t seem that McCoy’s contributions will help push his team to that next level, and we have not seen anything that would make us believe McCoy is leaving anytime soon. As age eventually begins to affect players bodies, McCoy will be one of the best running backs in the league to have not win a Super Bowl.
8 Larry Fitzgerald
Here we move on to the second player of this last that has played in a Super Bowl, but will not win a Super Bowl ring during his NFL career. Larry Fitzgerald also may be known as “Sticky Fingers” due to his incredible ability to catch the ball. With 2:48 left to go in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIII, Kurt Warner threw a bullet to Fitzgerald. Seconds later Fitzgerald caught the ball and ran up the middle of the field for a 55-yard touchdown pass. Fitzgerald was less than three minutes away from becoming a Super Bowl champion. Unfortunately, due to a legendary catch by Antonio Brown, Fitzgerald is still one of the greatest wide receivers to not win a Super Bowl.
Larry Fitzgerald, like teammate Carson Palmer who is also on this list, is having father time knock at his door. Entering the 2017 season, Fitzgerald is going to be 34. The Cardinals were a win away from heading to the Super Bowl in 2015, but went downhill with a poor 2016 campaign. There is only so much more time that Palmer and Fitzgerald have, and with Seattle in the division it’s tough for this team to even win the division. Fitzgerald is the closest player on this list to have won a Super Bowl, that just fell short.
7 Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers came into the San Diego Chargers organization after he was drafted by the New York Giants, but was traded for Eli Manning. Rivers during some seasons has been called a top-5 quarterback. In some situations, the quarterback may not be good enough to take his team to the promised land. In this situation, Rivers simply does not have enough firepower around him to even compete in the AFC West. The team has remained at the .500 line for most of the time that Rivers has been in charge. With both the Chiefs and Raiders becoming so dominant, and the Broncos only a season out from their Super Bowl run, it seems hard to believe the Chargers will compete against these other teams.
Rivers is in need of help on both sides of the ball, and it doesn’t seem like it will come soon with him getting older. Rivers is definitely an elite quarterback that can play in this league, but for a quarterback that is going to turn 36, it may seem that he wants to seek retirement before a Super Bowl ring comes anywhere near the Chargers organization.
6 A.J. Green - Cincinnati Bengals
A.J. Green just came off of his first season where he could not reach 1,000 receiving yards. Green still is known as one of the most consistent receivers in the NFL. A.J. Green plays at such a high level that it’s shocking to see him on this list, but the Bengals seem a bit out of reach for a chance to win a Super Bowl. This season was the first season in Green’s career that the Bengals failed to make the playoffs. The Bengals have done a decent job in the regular season to help stretch their season to the playoffs, but they are 0-5 since 2011. If you look at Green’s statistics in those games as well, he hasn’t played that well. His best performance came against the Pittsburgh Steelers where he caught five passes for 71 yards and had a touchdown. But if you look at his playoff career as a whole, he has been targeted 40 times and has only caught 18 balls and one touchdown catch.
The Bengals' poor ability to achieve in the playoffs and Green’s poor performance in playoff games proves that A.J. Green is not worth a Super Bowl ring, and that is why he will not win one.
5 Josh Norman
Josh Norman, our third player to head to the Super Bowl but unable to take the crown. Norman erupted becoming one of the most popular cornerbacks during the 2015 season. He became a vocal figure on the field that has shown us some interesting shows, like the one where he battled it out with New York Giants star receiver, Odell Beckham Jr. Josh Norman got close, but then left the following season to join the Washington Redskins. Josh Norman has been very dominant at corner, but that won’t be enough to take the Redskins to the Super Bowl.
With drama surrounding the situation between Kirk Cousins and the Redskins, it seems unlikely that Cousins will play out his career as a Redskin. That hurts Norman’s chances of winning a Super Bowl, considering the most important position is the quarterback position. The Redskins are dominant enough to fight against opponents in the NFC East, but that all may change if Cousins leaves. And for this Redskins team, they work around the young quarterback. Norman may choose to leave in the future if he sees his quarterback leave, but as time goes on, cornerbacks tend to lose their step. There is only so long that cornerbacks can track down stars like Alshon Jeffrey and Dez Bryant. Josh Norman may have the voice to talk, but won’t have the ring to show off.
4 Brandon Marshall - New York Giants
Brandon Marshall has continued to prove he is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. This offseason he even signed a deal to add him to the New York Giants, a team that went to the playoffs last year as a Wild Card team. The addition of Marshall to the Giants may consider the Giants wide receiver corps as the best in the National Football League. Odell Beckham Jr, Brandon Marshall, and Sterling Shepard, seem like a tough wide receiver group to cover. The problem is the New York Giants offensive line has been awful. Eli Manning has run around in the backfield doing anything to avoid defenders. The great wide receiver group definitely will improve their team, but without a decent offensive line, it’s going to be hard for this team to win.
For Marshall, like others, he is aging. But something that may make him even closer to retirement; broadcasting. Marshall has made many appearances on different networks, and was even apart of "Inside The NFL" on Showtime during the offseason. Eventually, Marshall may get discouraged of not winning a Super Bowl, and seems like he will move on to the broadcasting booth. With his experience, there is no doubt that he will find a spot on one of the nation’s most popular networks. Brandon Marshall may not win on the field as a champion, but will most definitely win a job as a broadcaster.
3 Adrian Peterson - New Orlean Saints
Adrian Peterson, some who say is one of the greatest running backs to ever be drafted into the NFL. After missing much of the 2016 season, the Minnesota Vikings decided not to sign the 7x Pro Bowler. During the offseason, the New Orleans Saints decided to sign Peterson and bring him with Drew Brees. The New Orleans Saints have statistically the best passing attack in the NFL. The rushing attack ranked 16th in the NFL last year, hopes to improve from that number with Peterson coming into town.
Both Brees and Peterson are entering the final years of their career. Luckily for Brees, he has won a Super Bowl before. With Peterson, coming off of a torn meniscus, is going to go out there and try and prove that the 32-year old running back can still play. This season, may thought Peterson would not even get a job due to his age and his history of injuries. The Saints may be his last chance to prove that he has anything left in the tank.
For a defense that struggled heavily last season, it doesn’t seem that this team will be able to hold off opposing offenses any better this year. The loss of Brandin Cooks also takes away from this teams passing attack. And most of all, no one really knows what to expect from Peterson.
2 Julius Peppers - Carolina Panthers
Julius Peppers was one win away from making it to the grandest stage of all of sports: The Super Bowl. Peppers decided to return for another season, but to a different location. The Carolina Panthers brought back the star defensive end to where he started his NFL career. The problem for Peppers going back to Carolina is that they don’t seem to have the pieces to make a run for it again for a few years. The Panthers two years ago lost in Super Bowl 50, and then came back in 2016 and finished with a 6-10 record.
Peppers can still play at a high level, but eventually every player has a time where they call it quits. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Julius Peppers retire within the next two years. Unfortunately, the Panthers are going to have a tough time making it make to the playoffs within that time frame, yet head back to a Super Bowl. With every team improving in the NFC South this offseason, it seems the chance for Peppers to win a Super Bowl ring has vanished.
1 Matthew Stafford - Detroit Lions
For most players on the list, the reasons for players not making the Super Bowl mostly deal with age sometimes mixed with a team needing a few years. The Detroit Lions are a team that just last year went to the playoffs as the #6 seed in the NFC. Stafford had one of his best years last season throwing for 24 touchdowns and 4,327 yards. Stafford was great in all aspects of the game and helped his team on a five-game winning streak. His efforts were enough to help get the Lions to the playoffs, but couldn’t get over the hump.
Stafford has played extremely well for the Lions, and is a huge part of their success in the past. But in order for this Lions team to win, they need to add help around their franchise quarterback. In the playoff game against Seattle, the Lions receivers looked like they had slippery gloves on because of their poor ability to catch the football. The Lions had 28 drops all season, ranking them as one of the teams with the most dropped passes. Adding to the dropped passes, the Lions ranked 30th in rushing for the season. Towards the end of the season the defensive backs were banged up.
Stafford is going to need a lot of help in the future to ever win a Super Bowl. But with the history of the Lions, it doesn’t seem to happen. Both star players Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson both retired for the inability of the Lions to put together a Super Bowl caliber team. It still seems that may be the case, and that is why Matthew Stafford will end his career without a Super Bowl ring.