It’s one of the most unfair designations in the NFL: guys who win a Super Bowl ring are forever considered to be “winners,” despite whatever they did – or didn’t – accomplish on the field, and the guys who have resumes filled with everything but a Super Bowl ring get overlooked in such conversations.
Guys in the latter group – like Barry Sanders, Bruce Smith, and Randy Moss, among many other greats – probably loathe the guys you’re going to read about on this list. While 53 players on each roster get a Super Bowl ring, you gotta believe not all 53 are really deserving of it.
Here are the 20 worst players to win a Super Bowl ring since 2000:
Joe Germaine – St. Louis Rams (2000)
You want to know why saying “he’s a winner” is completely irrelevant when scouting college players’ chances of making it in the NFL? Look no further than Joe Germaine. The former star quarterback of the Ohio State Buckeyes, who led the team to a Rose Bowl win and was named the Big 10 Offensive Player in the Year in college, played a grand total of two seasons in the NFL.
Of course, the first one just so happened to in 1999, as a member of the “Greatest Shown On Turf” St. Louis Rams, orchestrated by Kurt Warner. He kept the pine warm for Warner while the latter was scorching the league, throwing only 16 attempts — two of which were intercepted — for the entirety of his NFL career. Even in this photo he is playing his back-up role very well.
Trent Dilfer – Baltimore Ravens (2000)
How could this list be complete without Trent Dilfer, whom most people consider to be the worst starting quarterback to ever win the Super Bowl? After throwing 80 interceptions over the course of his first six seasons in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dilfer came to Baltimore and was made the backup quarterback to Tony Banks.
But Dilfer was eventually put in over Banks, after the latter couldn’t get the offense to do anything, and the Ravens won their last seven games of the year — and next three playoff Ames, including the Super Bowl — with Dilfer as their quarterback. Over the next seven years, Dilfer played for four teams (including the Ravens) before retiring in 2007.
Tony Banks – Baltimore Ravens (2000)
Don’t forget that Trent Dilfer wasn’t the only terrible quarterback on the famous 2000 Baltimore Ravens. During an eight-game stint as the starting quarterback of the Ravens, Tony Banks averaged less than 200 yards passing per game, and threw eight interceptions in those eight games. During that stint, the Ravens went four weeks without scoring a touchdown.
Of course, Banks had one of the greatest defenses in modern history to bail him out, which is why Banks still finished the season with a 5-3 record (though he was eventually replaced by Trent Dilfer). Banks went on to be a backup for the remainder of the year, winning a Super Bowl ring with the Ravens.
J.R. Redmond – New England Patriots (2001)
Another member of the rotating cast of running backs that New England Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick’s always-rotating stable of running backs, J.R. Redmond was a third-round pick in the 2000 NFL Draft. While he had a semi-passable rookie season in 2000 (running for 406 yards on only 125 attempts), he was basically a non-factor for the Patriots after that.
In 2001, Redmond had only 35 carries — which was even less rushing attempts than Tom Brady had — and only caught 21 passes (so it wasn’t like he was some pass-catching specialist). Believe it or not, his stats actually went down the following season in New England, after which he was released by the team.
Rob Johnson – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2002)
There was once a time that the Buffalo Bills were so intrigued by Rob Johnson that they sent a first and fourth round draft pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars to bring Johnson to Buffalo. That clearly didn’t work out so well. After losing out to Doug Flutie while with the Bills, Johnson spent one year in Tampa Bay backing up veteran Brad Johnson in 2002, which just so happened to be the year that the Tampa Bay won their first — and only — Super Bowl championship.
While Rob Johnson did get to play in a couple of games that year, he threw only one interception and two touchdowns in those two appearances. Johnson spent one more season in the NFL bouncing between two NFL teams, before he was finally out of the league for good.
Damon Huard – New England Patriots (2003)
One of the Huard quarterbacking brothers from the Pacific Northwest, Damon Huard was one of those career backups who people quickly forget the minute they leave the NFL.
And given the fact that he was the backup to Tom Brady for a couple of seasons, right as the New England Patriots’ dynasty began, he became even more forgettable, since Brady didn’t really miss any time under center prior to the 2008 season.
During the 2003 season, despite throwing a grand total of one passing attempt (which fell incomplete), Huard can still boast of winning a Super Bowl ring, as he was on the roster when his Patriots beat the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl.
Bethel Johnson – New England Patriots (2004)
Bethel Johnson is one of the many pieces of evidence in the only argument that people have against Bill Belichick’s abilities: he’s been awful at picking wide receivers in the NFL Draft. The speedy Bethel Johnson was a second-round pick in the 2003 NFL Draft, out of Texas A&M.
But Johnson never became anything more than a kick returner during his four years in New England, as he never caught a single regular season pass from Tom Brady at any point in his career. Despite that, Johnson was still fortunate enough to win a ring as a member of the Patriots’ in their Super Bowl win against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Tommy Maddox – Pittsburgh Steelers (2005)
After his sojourn in the defunct version of the XFL, Tommy Maddox went from going 7-3-1 in 2002 as the starting quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, to 6-10 the next year. Despite the lackluster record, when Maddox was lost early on in the 2004 season, Pittsburgh fans thought the season was all but over, as the team would be forced to start a strapping young rookie named Ben Roethlisberger.
Needless to say, things worked out. In 2005, Maddox ended up backing up Roethlisberger when the Steelers won the Super Bowl in the latter’s second year as a starter. After losing the job to “Big Ben,” Maddox threw three touchdowns and six interceptions over the remainder of his career.
Aaron Moorehead – Indianapolis Colts (2006)
People used to joke that Peyton Manning could insert his mailman as a wide receiver in one the Indianapolis Colts’ offenses that he led in the 2000’s, and turn said mailman into a 500-yard receiver. Such a hypothetical experiment wasn’t far off from the Aaron Moorhead experience.
In five NFL seasons, the former fourth-round pick in the 2003 NFL Draft played as a reserve receiver for the Colts, though he never finished with more than eight catches in any season — again, despite catching balls from Peyton Manning. Moorehead never had more than 101 yards receiving in any single season he played in Indianapolis, and during his five-year career, he found the end zone a grand total of one time.
David Tyree – NY Giants (2007)
Thanks to one iconic play in not only NFL and Super Bowl history, but New York sports history in general, David Tyree may never have to buy another meal anytime he ever dines out in the Big Apple. But that doesn’t erase the fact that during the six seasons he played in the NFL (not counting the year he missed due to injury), Tyree never finished with more than 211 yards receiving in a single season.
During his five years in New York, Tyree caught a grand total of four touchdowns, and during his latter three years in New York, caught all of 28 passes (for less than 200 yards total). But he’ll forever be immortalized thanks to the “helmet catch” he made when the New York Giants upset the New England Patriots.
Jared Lorenzen — NY Giants (2007)
People like Jim Kelly and Dan Marino have to look at Jared Lorenzen — “the Pillsburgy Through-Boy” forever known for his girth — with a large sense of contempt. Lorenzen spent two years in the NFL, and literally accumulated a grand total of two carries for four yards; he didn’t throw a single pass at any point in his career, and during the entire course of the 2006 and 2007 seasons, he ran the ball a grand total of one time in each of those two years (both carries went for two yards).
If you count the playoffs, he had another carry for — guess what — two yards (again). So his entire NFL workload, in three years, was three carries for six yards. Yet, he still has a Super Bowl ring.
Najeh Davenport – Pittsburgh Steelers (2008)
Najeh Davenport did spend seven seasons in the NFL, so it’s not like his career was a total wash. But the former backfield player on those incredible University of Miami football teams in the early 2000’s never really enjoyed the same success in the NFL, rushing for less than 500 yards in each of his seven seasons in the NFL.
Between 2005 and 2008, Davenport played for three different teams, but happened to finish things off at the right place, coming back to Pittsburgh in time to be a member of their Super Bowl-winning team.
Reggie Bush – New Orleans Saints (2009)
It’s not the fact that Reggie Bush was a terrible player in general; he did finish his career recording two seasons with more than 1,000 yards rushing. But despite investing the #2 overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft on Bush, and considering everyone assumed Bush was this generational, franchise-changing talent, the Saints never got a season with more than 600 yards rushing out of him.
Bush didn’t even lead the Saints in rushing during the 2009 season, when the team ended up defeating the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl. But, Bush can still list “Super Bowl champion” next to his name (especially since all his college accolades have basically been removed from the record books).
Matt Flynn – Green Bay Packers(2010)
The “Week 17 Prodigy” who put up gaudy stats in a couple of Week 17 starts in place of Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn was a backup to Rodgers in 2010, when the Green Bay Packers would go on to win the Super Bowl.
As we all know, Flynn was famously traded to the Seattle Seahawks prior to the 2012 season, and after getting outplayed by a precocious rookie named Russell Wilson in the preseason, the Seahawks couldn’t start Flynn over the rookie in good conscience, electing to go with Wilson despite handing him a $20.5 million contract only months before.
Ramses Barden – NY Giants (2011)
A monstrously-sized receiver at 6’6 and almost 230lbs, wide receiver Ramses Barden out of Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo was someone the New York Giants envisioned being another matchup nightmare for opposing defenses, like Plaxico Burress.
Despite investing a third round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft on him, Barden caught less than 15 passes in each of the four seasons he played in the NFL. In three of those four seasons, Barden actually caught less than 100 yards over the course of the entire season; by comparison, Odell Beckham Jr. hit 100 yards receiving in seven different games in his rookie season alone.
Bernard Pollard – Baltimore Ravens (2012)
Believe it or not, Bernard Pollard has more to his NFL resume than the borderline-dirty hit on Tom Brady early in the 2008 season, which cost Brady the entire year due to an injury. Pollard played for four teams over his eight years in the NFL, never spending more than three seasons in one spot. While Pollard did have a solid season as a member of the Houston Texans in 2009, that’s really the only good year he had.
Over the last three seasons of his NFL career, Pollard forced a grand total of four turnovers, which is hardly anything to write home about for someone considered to be a playmaking safety. But, he was a member of the 2012 Baltimore Ravens, so he has a Super Bowl ring.
Christine Michael – Seattle Seahawks (2013)
Christine Michael was one of the numerous running backs drafted by Pete Carroll for the Seattle Seahawks… and one of the numerous running back picks that turned out to be huge misses. Michael’s outstanding speed never came close to translating into actual on-the-field production.
During his five-year NFL career, Michael never ran for more than 583 yards in a single season, and in four of those five years, he ran for less than 470 yards.
Further, in 2015 and in 2016, he was released midseason by a team and signed on with another team, bringing the total number of teams he’s played to four — in just five years. But, he did win a Super Bowl while on the roster of the 2013 Seahawks team that upset the Denver Broncos.
Jonas Gray – New England Patriots (2014)
Some NFL players make an entire career off of having one good season. But Jonas Gray of the New England Patriots made a career off of having just one good game in his NFL career. During a famous Sunday Night Football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Gray ran for 201 yards and four touchdowns.
When fantasy football players ran to the waiver wire to grab what was supposed to be “the next big thing,” Gray repaid them by running for 80 yards over the remainder of the regular season. Despite that, Gray still got a Super Bowl ring as a member of the Patriots, when they defeated the Seattle Seahawks.
Brock Osweiler – Denver Broncos (2015)
As hard as this is to believe, Brock Osweiler actually came in and played in place of Peyton Manning in 2015, when the latter was clearly on his last gasp in his NFL career, in a season that ended with the Denver Broncos winning the Super Bowl.
Osweiler’s statistical history don’t tell the full story of how awful a quarterback he is, although in his one and only season where he started more than eight games for a team (when the Houston Texans tried to make him a starter in 2016), he threw 16 interceptions in 14 games, while completing less than 60% of his passes.
He’s one of those guys who simply looks majestic when throwing the football, until you realize the football isn’t going anywhere close to his intended target.
Brandon Bolden – New England Patriots (2016)
if you ask the most ardent fans of the New England Patriots, they’d have a hard time explaining how Branden Bolden keeps ending up on the Patriots’ roster. But Bolden spent the first six years of his NFL career with Patriots, including the 2016 season, which ended in New England’s infamous second-half comeback over the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl.
In seven NFL seasons, not only has Bolden never run for more than 274 yards at any point in his career, but he’s made a grand total of six starts over those seven years. Between 2016 and 2018, Bolden carried the football a grand total of 22 times.
Kenjon Barner – Philadelphia Eagles (2017)
The speedy Kenjon Barner was actually reunited with his college head coach (Chip Kelly) when arriving to Philadelphia prior to the 2014 season. But like most of Kelly’s other experiments, Barner never really panned out in Philadelphia. Over the course of his six-year career, Barner has changed teams four times, and run for a total of 388 yards and three touchdowns.
By comparison, five different quarterbacks ran for more yards than that in 2018 alone. Barner has never had more than 130 yards rushing in a single season. And yet, he has a Super Bowl ring, when Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles won the franchise’s first-ever Super Bowl.