The Top 5 Quarterbacks to Never Win a Super Bowl
There’s much debate over the top quarterbacks in the history of the league that have never hoisted the Lombardi Trophy as a Super Bowl champion. Players in that debate range from Dan Marino to Jim Kelly, but I want to take a look at the top five current quarterbacks in the NFL that haven’t led their team to a Super Bowl victory.
The only real criteria I used for this top-five list was to not have anyone too young that hasn’t had enough time to be a Super Bowl champion. This includes Cam Newton, who has only played one season, as well as Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan, who, despite having some postseason success, have both just completed their fourth year in the league.
All three of them will have their chances in their careers; everyone can’t be a Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger and win it all at such a young age. This is because I wanted to consider the players’ careers as a whole and what they have done, and not base their ranking on this list by just their performances this past season.
With all that said, these are the top five current NFL quarterbacks to never win the Super Bowl:
5. Matt Hasselbeck (Packers, Seahawks, Titans)
Hasselbeck began his career as a backup to Brett Favre on the Green Bay Packers, before being traded to the Seattle Seahawks in 2001, being reunited with former Packers head coach Mike Holmgren. After winning the starting job for the 2003 season, Hasselbeck led the Seahawks to five straight playoff appearances from 2003-2007, which included four straight NFC West division titles from 2004-2007, and an appearance in Super Bowl XL. However, the Seahawks lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 21-10, and that was the lone Super Bowl appearance in Hasselbeck’s career.
After battling injuries in 2008 and 2009, Hasselbeck led the Seahawks back to the playoffs in 2010, where they upset the defending champion New Orleans Saints 41-36, before losing to the Chicago Bears in the divisional round. In 2011, Hasselbeck played for the Tennessee Titans and led them to a 9-7 record, and the team barely missed the playoffs. In his career, Hasselbeck has been named to the Pro Bowl three times, has been selected an All-Pro once, and he also holds several Seahawks franchise passing records, including career passing yards.
4. Carson Palmer (Bengals, Raiders)
Palmer was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals with the first overall pick in the 2003 draft, and sat behind veteran Jon Kitna for that season. He was the team’s starter in 2004, leading the team to an 8-8 record.
Perhaps his best season was in 2005, where the Bengals won the AFC North with an 11-5 record and Palmer was named to the Pro Bowl, won the NFL Alumni Quarterback of the Year award, and FedEx Air Player of the Year. Unfortunately, on the Bengals first offensive play in their playoff game against the Steelers, Palmer tore his ACL and MCL and was out for the game, and the Bengals eventually succumbed to a loss without him.
He returned in 2006 and had a very strong season, earning much praise for his performance after returning from such a devastating injury. He was once again named to the Pro Bowl, but the team failed to make the playoffs. The Bengals suffered losing seasons for the next two years before winning the division again in 2009, but again suffered a one-and-done postseason.
After a dismal 4-12 record in 2010, Palmer requested to be traded or he’d retire. The Bengals refused to trade him initially so he retired, but was eventually traded to the Oakland Raiders in the middle of the 2011 season where he led them to the brink of a wild-card berth, but with a loss in their last regular season game, it was ironically the Bengals that got into the playoffs instead.
3. Jay Cutler (Broncos, Bears)
Cutler was selected 11th overall by the Denver Broncos in the 2006 NFL Draft. He took over for quarterback Jake Plummer towards the end of the 2006 season and was named the starter in for 2007. Despite success with the Broncos, the team never made the playoffs and he was traded to the Chicago Bears for the 2009 season.
His first season with the Bears was rough, but in 2010, he led the team to a division title, the NFC’s No. 2 seed, and the Bears hosted the NFC Championship Game. However, Cutler was knocked out of the game early in the second half and the Bears lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Packers. The team was on pace again to make the playoffs in 2011, but he suffered a season-ending injury midway through the year.
Despite his inconsistency at times, Cutler is regarded as a championship-caliber quarterback, and has been compared to Favre for most of his career for his “gunslinger” mentality and gameplay. Cutler has been named to the Pro Bowl once, in 2008.
2. Donovan McNabb (Eagles, Redskins, Vikings)
Despite his downward spiral as a quarterback these past few seasons with the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings, McNabb was one of the best in the game as quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Drafted second-overall in 1999, McNabb became the full-time starter in 2000. McNabb would lead the Eagles to four straight division titles and NFC Championship Games from 2001-2004, but failed to make the Super Bowl until the 2004 season. In that Super Bowl, the Eagles would lose to the Patriots 24-21, which was their third Super Bowl victory in four seasons.
Despite various injuries from 2005-2007, McNabb led the Eagles to yet another NFC Championship Game in 2008, but again, they lost. McNabb had a solid season in 2009 but played poorly in the team’s first playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys and he was eventually traded that offseason and replaced by Michael Vick, who signed with the team as a backup for that 2009 season.
McNabb has been named to the Pro Bowl from 2000-2004 and 2009, and was the NFC Offensive Player of the Year in 2004. McNabb is currently a free agent.
1. Philip Rivers (Chargers)
Rivers was drafted fourth overall in the 2004 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers and sat behind Drew Brees his first two seasons. After the New Orleans Saints signed Brees as a free agent, Rivers became the team’s starting quarterback in 2006. He led the Chargers to a league-best 14-2 record, but they lost a close game to the Patriots 24-21 and were one-and-done.
From 2007-2009, the Chargers won the AFC West, but never made it to the Super Bowl. They made it as far as the 2007 AFC Championship Game, but lost again to the Patriots, who at the time improved to 18-0. In 2010 and 2011, the Chargers have barely missed the playoffs.
Rivers is regarded as one of the top quarterbacks in the league, and is consistently among the top leaders in passing stats every season. Rivers has been named to the Pro Bowl four times, in 2006 and from 2009-2011. He was named the NFL Alumni Quarterback of the Year in 2010 as well. Rivers has a career TD-INT ratio of 2:1.