The ultimate goal for any NFL player is to win the Super Bowl.
Players spend countless hours in the offseason memorizing plays and getting in shape, all to achieve one goal which all of them share; winning a championship. Countless players’ legacies are judged by whether or not they’ve won a Super Bowl. Both Dan Marino and Joe Montana are considered two of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. Despite Marino’s great stats he is haunted by the fact that he’s never been a championship quarterback, while Montana, owning multiple rings is seen as one of the greatest quarterbacks in history as well as one of the greatest playoff performers. Similarly, Peyton Manning had to deal with much of the same criticism up until his first championship during the 2006 NFL Season. Even so, criticism still followed Manning afterwards, this time over the number of Super Bowl wins. He will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, but much like Marino, it is the games that he didn’t win that will haunt him.
Many people think of the fairy tale ending for veteran players going to a Super Bowl. As they prepare to take their final bow, a wave of confetti showers over them and finally they reach their ultimate goal, one which they set out to achieve from the beginning of their careers. The first thing that comes to mind is John Elway’s Super Bowl run at the end of his career, winning two in a row, but what about the players who never got their fairy tale ending?
There are many players who’ve been cut, traded or signed with other franchises just before their former teams made it all the way to the Super Bowl. Players that had put in so much effort and missed out on the opportunity, and failed to obtain it just before they were able to reach it.
10 Eddie Kennison – St. Louis Rams
Eddie Kennison spent the majority of his NFL career with the Kansas City Chiefs, from 2001-2007 but it was the St. Louis Rams that selected him with the 18th overall pick in the 1996 NFL Draft. During his rookie year with the Rams, Kennison finished behind Terry Glenn in receiving yards and receptions among rookies, out producing top pick Keyshawn Johnson. However, his 1997 and 1998 campaigns were disappointing. He totaled 79 receptions for 638 yards and one touchdown, starting 22 games in two years. Following theses disappointing seasons, the Rams traded Kennison to the Saints for a second round pick, three years into his four-year rookie deal. That year the Rams drafted Torry Holt and went on to win the Super Bowl in one of the greatest seasons in NFL history. Meanwhile Kennison bounced from team to team till he found a home with the Chiefs in 2001.
9 Aaron Kampman – Green Bay Packers
Aaron Kampman had several outstanding seasons while he was a member of the Green Bay Packers from 2002 to 2009. He served as an anchor on the defensive line, but only put up double digit sacks two years (2006 and 2007). Nonetheless, he was a two-time Pro Bowl selection with Green Bay and had his best year in 2006 when he finished second in the league in sacks with 15.5. The Packers cut Kampman in 2010 and he signed a contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he played two years before being released. Kampman’s departure from the Packers came a year before their Super Bowl XLV victory over the Steelers and he was out of the league for good two years later.
8 Lawyer Milloy – New England Patriots
In 1996 Lawyer Milloy was drafted in the second round by the New England Patriots. That same year the Patriots made it to the Super Bowl, but lost to the Green Bay Packers. Five years later the Patriots made it back to the Super Bowl, where under coach Bill Belichick they beat the St. Louis Rams 20-17. That year Milloy posted 112 total tackles and 2 interceptions and was voted to a Pro Bowl. In his last year with the team, he totaled 91 tackles with no interceptions but was voted to his second consecutive Pro Bowl. Five days before the start of the 2003 NFL season, Milloy, having failed to renegotiate his contract, signed with the Buffalo Bills, missing out on the next two Patriots Super Bowl wins.
7 Marcus Trufant – Seattle Seahawks
Marcus Trufant’s career with the Seahawks lasted nine years. He was selected with the 11th overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft, serving as a staple on the Hawks’ defense for years. In 2005 he was part of the Seahawks team that made it to their first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history, ultimately losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had his best year with the team in 2007, intercepting 7 passes. In his last year with the Hawks, Trufant only started 2 games and was not resigned at the end of the season. He signed a contract with the Jaguars on May 7th 2013, but was cut before the season started. Meanwhile, the Seahawks defense looked better then ever during their 2013 campaign, and with one of the best secondaries in football, they rolled over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.
6 Plaxico Burress – Pittsburgh Steelers
5 Ken Stabler – Oakland Raiders
Nicknamed “The Snake”, Ken Stabler was the face of the Raiders franchise during most of the 1970s. Winning 100 games as a starting QB in a span of 150 games, Stabler sits behind Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana and Tom Brady as the fastest quarter backs to do so in their careers. In Super Bowl XI, Stabler and the Raiders set a Super Bowl record 429 yards and tossed around the Vikings as they won their first Super Bowl since their appearance in Super Bowl II. After several abysmal seasons in Oakland, Stabler was traded to the Houston Oilers in 1980 for Oilers QB Dan Pastorini. That season former NFL Rookie of the Year Jim Plunkett led the Raiders to yet another Super Bowl victory, while Stabler’s career in Houston lasted him only two seasons before he ended it with the Saints.
4 Jim Taylor – Green Bay Packers
Jim Taylor was a bruising back in the Packers backfield during the late 50s and early 60s. A five time Pro Bowler, Taylor played most of his career with the Packers and at the time of his retirement held most of the franchises major rushing records. Taylor was apart of several NFL Championship teams as well as the 1966 Packers team that defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in the first ever Super Bowl. In that game Taylor led the team with 56 yards rushing and a touchdown (the first rushing touchdown in Super Bowl history). He was not a part of the Packers’ Super Bowl II championship team, having played for the expansion New Orleans Saints during the 1967 season and retiring shortly after the season's end.
3 Paul Hornung – Green Bay Packers
Much like his teammate Jim Taylor, Paul Hornung missed out on Green Bay’s second consecutive Super Bowl win in 1967. Due to a pinched nerved in Hornung’s neck he did not play during Super Bowl I, and at the time of his retirement never played a down in any Super Bowl championship. Hornung was known as a versatile player and played several positions such as halfback and quarterback as well as placekicker and safety in College. While in Green Bay, he and teammate Jim Taylor were known as “Thunder & Lightning” and for a time the two were both members of the expansion New Orleans Saints in 1967, but Hornung retired shortly afterwards.
2 Edgerrin James – Indianapolis Colts
In 1999 Edgerrin James was drafted to replace Marshall Faulk on the Colts offense. Many critics criticized the Colts for drafting James over Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams, but James quickly shut up doubters winning Offensive Rookie of the Year and leading the NFL in rushing his first two seasons. By the end of his tenure in Indianapolis, James totalled 9,262 rushing yards and 64 rushing touchdowns, and in 2006 he signed with the Arizona Cardinals just before Indianapolis made their Super Bowl run.
1 Tiki Barber – New York Giants
Tiki Barber was part of the 2000 New York Giants squad that got shut down in Super Bowl XXXV. A second round pick in 1997, Barber was initially seen as a “change of pace” back until he totalled over 1,600 yards in 1999 and won the starting job for good. By the end of his career he became the all-time leading rusher in New York Giants history. Barber retired after a playoff loss to the Eagles in 2006 and went on to pursue a career in broadcasting. It was during the 2007 NFL Season that Barber made disapproving statements about QB Eli Manning. That same year Manning led the Giants to a Super Bowl win over the previously undefeated New England Patriots, just a year after Barber’s retirement.