Fair or not, we always seem to judge quarterbacks based on whether or not they won a Super Bowl. But what about the great quarterbacks who just didn’t have enough around them to win a Super Bowl or had a little bad luck along the way? Do they deserve to have their other accomplishments tarnished because something is missing? We don’t think so either, which is why we put together a list of the best quarterbacks who never won a Super Bowl.
There are a lot of great quarterbacks who never won a Super Bowl, but Kelly deserves special recognition because of how painfully close he came so many times. In the early 90’s, Kelly guided the Bills to four straight Super Bowls, falling short each time. Granted, only one of those Super Bowls was close, but Buffalo was just a field goal away from winning their first trip to the Big Game. That had to be difficult for the Hall of Famer and five-time Pro Bowler.
After 15 seasons in the NFL, six Pro Bowls, and three First-Team All-Pro selections, Fouts never even played in a Super Bowl. He took the Chargers to the AFC Championship Game twice but ultimately aligned himself with a team that couldn’t get it done. Despite leading the NFL in passing for four straight years in the late 1970’s and early 80’s, Fouts couldn’t win a championship.
If it’s any consolation, Moon led the Edmonton Eskimos to five straight Grey Cup wins during his days in the Canadian Football League. However, he was never able to win a Super Bowl. Despite the late start to his NFL career, Moon got himself to nine Pro Bowls and led Houston to seven straight playoff appearances. Alas, the Oilers couldn’t find much success in the playoffs. Moon never even played in a conference championship game, much less a Super Bowl.
There’s no doubt that Tarkenton was one of the best quarterbacks of his generation. He might still be the most beloved figure in Minnesota sports history. But the Vikings have never won a Super Bowl and neither did Tarkenton. During his second stint with the Vikings, he led Minnesota to the Super Bowl three times in a four-year span, losing all three times. Tarkenton was a nine-time Pro Bowler and won MVP in 1975, yet he has no Super Bowl ring.
Marino is easily the most famous Super Bowl-less quarterback in NFL history. If you thought Peyton Manning was under pressure to win a second Super Bowl before retiring, the pressure on Marino late in his career to win one was even more intense. In his second pro season, Marino won MVP and took Miami to the Super Bowl, only to lose 38-16. That turned out to be the closest he would ever get. Marino retired in 1999 with countless records, nine Pro Bowl invites, and a reserved spot in Canton, but it remains a shame that he had to walk away from the game without winning a Super Bowl.