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Great Players That Never Got the Chance to Play in the Super Bowl

Getting to the Super Bowl is no easy feat. Football is a game with so many what-ifs that you could spend the rest of your days studying them. For instance, what if Christian McCaffrey was never traded to the Panthers? He probably would end up on a list like this after his retirement. They're countless players who deserved to win one but didn't win a Super Bowl like Marino, Moss, Kelly, Owens, and many more. Those guys got to at least one or more Super Bowl(s) though.

Some great active players on the road to Canton, but haven't gotten to the big game yet. T.J Watt, DeAndre Hopkins, Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Alvin Kamara, Keenan Allen, Derrick Henry, Quenton Nelson, Zack Martin, Khalil Mack, Davante Adams, Myles Garrett, ETC. This shows that getting to the Super Bowl isn't that easy because all these players have at least started their cases to be in the Hall of Fame, and some of these players haven't even sniffed the Super Bowl.

There aren't many truly great players who never even got a chance at the Super Bowl. There's a handful, but not a lot. There are countless lists about this. All of them have Barry Sanders and Tony Gonzalez. Both guys get plenty of discussion of how they never got to the Super Bowl, and rightfully so. Both cases are baffling. The list gets rounded out by Dick Butkus, Deacon Jones, O.J Simpson, Eric Dickinson, Warren Moon, John Randle, and Gayle Sayers. All are truly great and deserving. These lists all have the same 10-12 names. These are some that a lot of these lists forget about.

Antonio Gates

I was going to put Andre Johnson on this list over Antonio Gates, but given that Andre Johnson got picked over Antonio Gates to go to Canton last night, I switched it up at the last minute. Andre Johnson is one of the best players to never reach the Super Bowl, but Gates holds the record for most receiving touchdowns for a TE in league history. That alone should have made him a first ballet Hall of Famer. It was shocking, to say the least. This is coming from a Chiefs fan.

The stats just speak for themselves. Over his 15-year career(All with the Chargers), Gates had 955 receptions, 11841 yards, and 116 touchdowns(NFL record). The Chargers played for more cities than Gates played for teams during his career. If the Chargers got within eight yards of the end zone, they were getting the TD, thanks to Gates. Another interesting oversight as well is he's never mentioned as the GOAT in TE discussions either. Granted, he's nowhere close to Tony Gonzalez in receptions and yards, but he had more touchdowns. I still think Tony G is better, that might be my bias as a Chiefs fan though. I think Gates still deserves a spot on the Mount Rushmore of tight ends, which is Tony G, Travis Kelce, Shannon Sharpe, and Antonio Gates, respectfully.

Jason Taylor

During Taylor's tenure with Miami, he was a quiet monster. He would knock that ball out of the quarterback's hands before he even knew he was there. When he finished his career, he had a record for forced fumbles at the time with 46. He has since gone down to 5th all-time in forced fumbles. He also had 139.5 sacks which is good for 7th all-time. Jason also had 8 Interceptions. For a defensive lineman is a lot. The reason he doesn't get brought up in conversations like this very often is his playoff stats aren't good at all. Still, if you list the best players to never play in a Super Bowl, Jason Taylor should be on it.

Derrick Thomas

Not too many players have changed a franchise as much as Derrick Thomas did when the Chiefs drafted Derrick number 4 overall in the 1989 draft. Sure, you could make the case for Patrick Mahomes changed the franchise more, and it's a valid argument. The reason I would say that Derrick Thomas changed it more is where the Chiefs were before they were both drafted. When Mahomes was drafted in 2017, the Chiefs were a good team, but not elite. Couldn't get past the Divisional round of the playoffs. When Derrick Thomas was drafted, the Chiefs had been the laughingstock of the NFL for over a decade. Hank Stram and Len Dawson were long gone. Derrick Thomas made the Chiefs a feared team with a menacing defense again.

Derrick Thomas was an absolute monster. He had a still NFL record seven sacks in one game. Nobody has even tied since that 1990 game against the Seahawks. He almost had eight, but the quarterback got away just in the nick of time for a game-winning touchdown. The Seahawks won 17-16. He did next to everything that game. One of his sacks resulted in a fumble in the end zone and recovered for a touchdown. His second sack was one yard away from a safety. He was one yard away from winning the game himself. The offense scored fewer touchdowns than the defense in that game. That game is the perfect metaphor for Derrick Thomas' tenure with the Chiefs. All defense and next to no help on offense. If Derrick had gotten any help from his offenses, he would've made at least one Super Bowl and probably more.

However, his life and career were tragically cut short by a car crash in 2000. He was only 33 years old at the time of his death and still had some quality football left in him. Derrick Thomas still had 126.5 sacks and 41 FF in his career. His legacy and presence are still felt in Chiefs Kingdom today. Chiefs are in Super Bowl 58 (Derrick's number), and this, coincidentally, is the first team in the Mahomes era that the defense is better than the offense.


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