Over the years, football fans have debated the significance of playoff performances when discussing the greatness of legendary players. Usually the argument circles around the fairly simplistic question “how many Super Bowls has he won?” The next question often surrounds the player’s overall playoff success.
We always hear about how about how important playoff success is (and don’t get me wrong, it is), but most players in the NFL did not earn their massive salaries based on playoff success (see Dalton, Andy). They’ve made their money from being generally productive and durable players over the 16-game regular season. We often forget that these players are paid handsomely for at least those 16 games of solid production, not just the 3-4 games it takes to get to a Super Bowl. You need to make it to the playoffs before you can establish a playoff legacy to begin with; that’s common sense. We often separate regular season greatness from postseason greatness – which is appropriate in certain situations – but as a general rule, we should always take the entire body of work into consideration, no matter if the topic is football players or a door-to-door salesman, and no matter how complete or diverse the body of work is. Individuals do not make the entire team, and while there are always key cogs in every roster, every single man on a football roster has to pull their weight, no matter if your quarterback is Drew Brees or Drew Bledsoe.
With that in mind, though, we still decided to put a twist on the argument and looked at the top 20 active players who’ve never suited up for a playoff game in their careers, despite being highly productive over their regular season careers; in essence, for this case, we couldn’t look at the entire body of work, because these players haven’t had a shot to perform in playoff games yet – even though they are getting paid like players who are supposed to carry their teams to the postseason. In going through the list, we can identify which players have simply had bad luck and which guys have had a role in their non-participation in January football.
20 Stevie Johnson, WR, San Francisco ($7.25 mil.)
19 Kyle Williams, DT, Buffalo ($7.28 mil.)
18 Reshad Jones, S, Miami ($7.34 mil.)
17 T15. Eugene Monroe, LT, Baltimore ($7.5 mil.)
16 T15. Will Beatty, LT, New York Giants ($7.5 mil.)
15 T15. Paul Posluszny, LB, Jacksonville ($7.5 mil.)
14 Andy Levitre, G, Tennessee ($7.8 mil.)
13 Mike Williams, WR, Buffalo ($7.92 mil.)
12 Daryl Washington, LB, Arizona ($8.0 mil.)
11 James Laurinaitis, LB, St. Louis ($8.3 mil.)
10 Alex Mack, C, Cleveland Browns ($8.4 mil.)
9 Jairus Byrd, S, New Orleans ($9.00 mil)
8 Brandon Marshall, WR, Chicago ($10.00 mil.)
7 Gerald McCoy, DT, Tampa Bay ($11.00 mil.)
6 Brian Orakpo, LB, Washington ($11.45 mil.)
5 Joe Thomas, LT, Cleveland ($11.5 mil.)
4 Chris Long, DE, St. Louis ($12.05 mil.)
3 Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis ($13 mil.)
2 Joe Haden, CB, Cleveland ($13.2 Mil.)
1 Mario Williams, DE, Buffalo ($16 Mil.)
Mario Williams surprises us all by taking the top spot…again. One of the most controversial first-overall picks in the history of the NFL and a perennial havoc-wrecker in the trenches, it might come as a surprise to see Williams at the top of this list considering the success he’s had over the years. Keep in mind, though, that he played for the Texans during the Colts’ Manning era, so no matter how many sacks he racked up, there was no winning the AFC South with Peyton running the Indy offense – and the one year that Houston did sneak in (2011), Williams was injured.
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