Winning the Super Bowl takes a team effort. Some players who have had big years, big games, or big moments will always receive a bigger portion of the credit, but there is no Super Bowl that has ever been won by an individual. The fact that the Super Bowl is a team effort really speaks to how difficult it is to build an NFL team that is equipped from top-to-bottom to win a championship. It also speaks to how rare it is for an awful player to find their way onto a championship team.
It does happen, though. Actually, it’s really not as uncommon as you think. There are a lot of positions on the average football team and, while most of them are typically filled with some of the best players in the world, there’s still plenty of room for an awful player to find their way onto the roster and become a “Did You Know?” piece of Super Bowl history. After that moment…well, life can go in some pretty unpredictable directions. There are the top 15 worst players with super bowl rings and where they are now.
15. Limas Sweed
Once upon a time, Limas Sweed was a highly-touted receiver at the University of Texas. As a member of the legendary UT team that dethroned USC, Sweed first caught the attention of scouts everywhere with his large frame and red zone abilities. A spectacular junior year with QB Colt McCoy seemed to seal his first-round draft stock. Then the injuries happened. Sweed’s wrist injury late in his college career hurt his draft stock, leading to the Steelers taking him with the 53rd overall pick. A series of medical maladies would follow and lead to Sweed’s career numbers being seven catches, 69 yards, and one Super Bowl ring. Sweed was released by the Steelers in September 2011 and proceeded to play for two CFL teams without much success. He was last seen coaching and teaching at Chapa Middle School in Kyle, Texas.
14. David Carr
David Carr will forever be remembered as the guy that the Houston Texans decided to build a franchise around. In their defense, he seemed like a great pick. Carr had managed to accumulate over 4,800 passing yards and 46 touchdowns during his last season at Fresno State and seemed to be the best QB available during the 2002 NFL Draft. From there, Carr would fall victim to record breaking sack numbers and unfortunate injuries. He snagged a Super Bowl as a backup for the New York Giants.
Carr finally announced his retirement in 2013 and proceeded to help his brother Derek make his transition to the NFL in 2014. A year later, David Carr became the offensive coordinator at Bakersfield Christian High School. He was later hired by the NFL Network as an analyst.
13. Bill Romanowski
So far as numbers go, you could argue that Bill Romanowski isn’t one of the worst players to ever win a Super Bowl. His stats aren’t mind-blowing, but he was a two-time Pro Bowl selection. In terms of conduct, however, Romanowski is generally seen as one of the most toxic and dirty players in NFL history. Romanowski was fined and expelled several times for doing things like kicking players in the head and trying to break their fingers. He also crushed the eye socket of one of his teammates during practice. Through it all, he won four Super Bowls. Following his retirement, he wrote an autobiography and founded a nutritional supplement company (Nutrition 53). He served as a high school defensive coordinator and later admitted to using steroids during his career.
12. Marc Wilson
As a member of the BYU Cougars, Marc Wilson was a true athletic prodigy. He once said that football was the sport he was least good at. You wouldn’t know it based on the great college numbers he put up nor the way that he helped revolutionize the concept of the dominant passing offense. In that respect, Wilson became one of the first warning signs to professional scouts that dominant college stars don’t always make for great NFL players.
Wilson won a Super Bowl with the Raiders as a backup in the year he was drafted and proceeded to have an entirely unremarkable career afterward. The last update on Marc in 2006 involved his transformation into a real-estate developer who loves to golf and doesn’t typically watch football.
11. Roy Gerela
Poor kickers. Nobody tends to remember the contributions of NFL kickers. It’s a rough deal. Especially once you consider that kickers tend to be remembered more for their failures than their successes. Gerela’s career is a mix of failures and successes. He ranks third on the Steelers all-time scoring list, but his career completion percentage hovers around the 60% mark which isn’t exactly awe-inspiring. Then again, when you happen to be the kicker on a Steelers dynasty that dominated most of the ‘70s, then you can usually get way with some less than stellar performances. Following his departure from Pittsburgh in 1979, Gerela played three games for the Chargers before a torn groin muscle ended his career. He went on to help his son get drafted by the CFL and was last seen coaching high school football in 2012.
10. Kenyatta Walker
Offensive lineman is one of the few positions in football where college skills are generally a fair representation of professional skills. Generally speaking, a great college offensive lineman has serious potential to be great at the professional level. There are exceptions, of course. One of them is named Kenyatta Walker. Walker was the fourteenth pick in the 2001 NFL Draft. Fortunately for him, he was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who were in the midst of building a pretty impressive team. Walker’s contributions were limited, but he still got that Super Bowl ring. Following the end of his career in 2007, Walker ended up going back to the University of Florida in order to acquire his bachelor’s degree in sociology. Despite this, he decided to go play football in Canada and was signed to the practice roster of the Toronto Argonauts in 2008. He’s remained quiet ever since.
9. Derek Loville
There is a strong case to be made that Derek Loville is the most successful career backup of all-time. Loville was never formally drafted by an NFL team following a fairly respectable college career at Oregon, but he did join the Seattle Seahawks in 1990. He would rotate in every now and then and performed well enough on occasion to justify a team picking him up to fill a roster spot. Those roster fill-ins led to Loville winning one championship with the 49ers and two with the Denver Broncos. Loville enjoyed a quiet retirement until earlier this year when he was indicted as part an investigation involving a drug trafficking ring. Loville was apparently also involved in the ring’s money laundering and illegal gambling and apparently would even intimidate their enemies by threatening to behead them.
8. Rohan Davey
Being backup to Tom Brady is a lot like working on the first response team for the center for disease control. If you’re called into action, you know that something has gone horribly wrong. Rohan Davey’s career at LSU featured quite a few spectacular performances. While he wasn’t the top-rated prospect, many had him pegged as a top five QB candidate going into the 2002 NFL draft. All that skill got led to him being drafted by the Patriots where he proceeded to have few opportunities to play despite an impressive run in NFL Europe. Davey got his ring before playing for his last NFL team in 2006. He ended up playing for the Arena Football League until 2013. Now, Davey lives in Louisiana and had a hand in several local companies.
7. Trent Dilfer
Trent Dilfer was the 6th overall pick in the 1994 NFL Draft. That’s interesting because, to be honest, his college career was closer to good than great. He had a spectacular junior year in 1993 but wasn’t necessarily blowing minds with his incomparable skills. Dilfer struggled to stay consistent during his time on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and eventually found his way to the Baltimore Raven’s roster. With the help of the Ravens’ defense, Dilfer won a Super Bowl. After he ended his career in 2008 with more interceptions than touchdowns, Dilfer joined the NFL Network where he had previously served as a guest analyst. During that time, he utilized the unfortunate catchphrase “turned a stinky sandwich into an ice cream cone.” Much of his personal life is spent with his wife and three daughters.
6. Jeff Hostetler
Jeff Hostetler, a man affectionately referred to as “The Hoss,” ended up having to transfer to West Virginia to get playing time even though he started at Penn State in college. His time there saw the young QB develop a reputation for being a highly-efficient player that could occasionally pull out a big play when called upon. He ended up getting drafted by the Giants in 1984, but he never really got much playing time thanks to the presence of Phil Simms. Despite his incredible performance in Super Bowl XXV, Hostetler just never got it done during the regular season. He retired in 1999 in order to help take care of his paralyzed son. He now lives in West Virginia and runs his own construction company.
5. Patrick Pass
The Belichick-era Patriots may just hold some kind of record for hosting the most awful players that technically won a Super Bowl. Belichick’s system allows for a lot of players to see time on the field who may not be stars in their own right, but find a way to contribute within the system. Then you’ve got guys like Patrick Pass. Despite being famous for his ability to play several positions, Pass wasn’t really great at any of them. His time as a running back for the Patriots was quite dull, but he was rostered long enough to win three Super Bowls. Pass finally decided to call it quits in 2009 despite the fact that the Patriots had re-signed him yet again. Pass is now committed to training young people to play football and is currently the head coach of the Boston Freedom Fighters of the Professional Developmental Spring League.
4. Marv Fleming
Despite the fact that the NFL worked a little differently when Marv Fleming was selected in the 11th round of the 1963 draft, the idea that an 11th rounder wasn’t expected to accomplish much in the league still remained. Fleming was a tight end at a time when tight ends were blockers that occasionally ran a route. As such, the stats over his career do not jump out. In truth, Fleming was a pretty solid hand whose historic position as the first player to win four Super Bowl rings is quite shocking. Fleming retired in 1975 and has stated a preference for staying out of all NFL discussions due to some resentment towards the media and the League’s retirement policies. He’s had two of his Super Bowl rings stolen and was the victim of a long-term identify theft scam.
3. Dale Hellestrae
When you’re a 6-foot-5, 300-pound offensive lineman, you’re going to draw the attention of NFL scouts. In the case of Dale Hellestrae, his impressive physical stature was complemented by some solid play at Southern Methodist University. The Bills took him in the fourth round of the 1985 draft, but Hellestrae’s career wouldn’t get interesting until he joined the Dallas Cowboys as a long snapper. Yes, while Hellestrae was an offensive line backup, his main job was to serve as long snapper during the Cowboys’ ‘90s dynasty. He was fairly decent at the job but was the ultimate example of a fringe player.
Hellestrae retired at the end of the 2002 season after being signed by the Baltimore Ravens. He found work providing analysis for college football games. Curiously he also owns a custom cookie delivery company called Cookies By Design in Scottsdale, Arizona.
2. Brad Johnson
In some ways, it doesn’t feel fair to lump Brad Johnson in with some of these other players who either didn’t contribute at all to their team’s Super Bowl efforts or otherwise provided marginal contributions. In comparison, Brad Johnson was the starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during a fairly impressive Super Bowl run. Then again, it wasn’t so much Johnson’s offense that led the charge so much as it was that all-time great defense. Johnson had a couple of good seasons,but he’s not what we think of when we think of Super Bowl quarterbacks. He retired after spending the 2008 season with the Dallas Cowboys and immediately began to take coaching jobs for both basketball and football. He dwells more on the athletic prospects of his son Max rather than his time as a professional player.
1. Jared Lorenzen
Jared Lorenzen was a QB unlike any other. We don’t mean that he possessed some incredible level of skills or a particular talent that no other QB has ever possessed; we mean that the guy was over 6-foot-4 and 320 pounds. He was something of a novelty at Kentucky and as a backup to Eli Manning once he joined the Giants 2004 as an undrafted free agent. On the rare occasions he did enter the game, the results weren’t pretty. His last year in the NFL was in 2008, but Lorenzen went out to play in the Arena Football League until his team, the Kentucky Horsemen, folded.
He spent some time as a high school football coach before joining the Northern Kentucky River Monsters as GM. Remarkably, he decided to resign as GM in order to play QB for the team. That season, he won the league MVP award. Following some bouncing around, Lorenzen finally retired from active play in 2013. He now serves as guest host on a sports radio show in Kentucky.
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