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The Top 15 NFL Hall of Famers Who Never Played in a Super Bowl

Brian WrightCorrespondent IIFebruary 2, 2012

The Top 15 NFL Hall of Famers Who Never Played in a Super Bowl

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    Since its inception in 1967, the Super Bowl has become the greatest stage in sports and a place where football greats cement their legacies.

    The list of Hall of Famers that have been heroes in this game include the likes of Bart Starr, Joe Namath, Terry Bradshaw, Marcus Allen, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice.

    However, some never even got there.

    Here are the top 15 players that earned a permanent place in Canton but never made it to a Super Bowl.

15. Steve Largent

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    Before Jerry Rice came on the scene, the best at the wide receiver position was Steve Largent.

    The 1995 Hall of Fame inductee caught 100 touchdown passes and compiled more than 13,000 yards. Upon his retirement in 1989, Largent held many of the NFL receiving records.

    Individually, he was consistently great. However, the Seattle Seahawks teams he played for weren't always contenders.

14. Derrick Thomas

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    The late nine-time Pro Bowler made the playoffs on seven occasions, but he never got further than the AFC Championship Game. 

    A career-long member of the Kansas City Chiefs, Derrick Thomas led the defense with his 642 tackles and 126.5 sacks. The latter statistic is ranked 12th in NFL history.

    He was certainly worth the No. 4 overall selection by K.C. Thomas' efforts, though, weren't enough to get the Chiefs over the top.

13. Dan Fouts

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    Like the three previous members of this list, Dan Fouts played his entire NFL career with the same club. Of course, they all share the pain of having spent the duration of their on-field action as a pro without the chance to get a ring.

    Fouts piloted the famous "Air Coryell" offense. With the deep passing game, he threw for 43,040 yards and 254 touchdowns.

    The aerial attack was good enough to get San Diego to two AFC Championship Games under Fouts' quarterbacking. The destiny-like run of the Wild Card Oakland Raiders and the bone-chilling temperatures of Cincinnati kept them from advancing any further.

12. Lee Roy Selmon

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    Lee Roy Selmon had the unfortunate honor of being the top pick of the 1976 NFL draft by the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Despite notching 18 sacks in his first two seasons, the franchise opened up with 26 consecutive losses and a label as the league's doormat. That all changed in 1979, when Tampa went worst to first. Led by Selmon's 11 sacks, the Bucs reached the NFC title game. 

    They lost that matchup with the Los Angeles Rams and would never get that close again for the remaining five years of Selmon's career.

    In all, the defensive end from the University of Oklahoma had six Pro Bowl appearances and still may be regarded as the club's greatest defensive player.

11. Warren Moon

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    Warren Moon was the winner of five Grey Cups while playing in the Canadian Football League. He wasn't as fortunate in the National Football League.

    After six years up north, Moon took his talents to the U.S. and led the run-and-shoot offense to perfection with the Houston Oilers.

    His more than 70,000 passing yards in the professional ranks and numerous accolades made him an easy selection to Canton in 2006. Getting to the NFL's ultimate game was much more difficult.

10. Larry Wilson

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    The inventor of the safety blitz could be one of the most underrated defensive players in league history. Unfortunately, he had the distinction of playing his entire career (1960-72) with the Cardinals franchise.

    A seventh-round pick out of Utah, Larry Wilson was a member of eight All-Pro squads and got eight nods to the Pro Bowl. While superb at rushing the quarterback, Wilson also grabbed 52 interceptions and scored five touchdowns.

9. Eric Dickerson

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    The outstanding running back from Southern Methodist shot out of the gate in the pro ranks.

    He followed up a 1,808-yard rushing effort in his rookie campaign with a record 2,105 in 1984. Both of those seasons resulted in playoff appearances with the Los Angeles Rams—both of which ended in premature exits.

    The 1985 season saw the Rams make it all the way to the NFC Championship. But no one was going to beat the 15-1 Chicago Bears, not even Dickerson.

    Over 11 years, he played for four different teams and made the postseason five times. All of those tries came up empty.

8. Ken Houston

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    Ken Houston made 12 Pro Bowls during his 14-year career, which was spent both with the Oilers and the Redskins. He modernized the position of safety with his 49 interceptions and his 898 INT return yards.

    Don't forget that Houston was also a tremendous hitter.

    From 1973 to 1980, he was in the nation's capital and reached the Pro Bowl seven consecutive times. His veteran team was also consistently talented and near the top of the standings. But that never resulted in any championship efforts.

    Houston just missed out on the Redskins' trip to Super Bowl VI in the 1972 campaign.

7. Earl Campbell

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    The reason many players on this list never got to the ultimate game was because they either played on poor teams or had the bad luck of running into dominant opponents in the playoffs.

    For the great Earl Campbell, the beginning of his career saw him and his Houston Oilers face the difficult task of getting by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    In 1978 and 1979, the first two years that Campbell played in the pros, the Oilers fell to the Steelers in the AFC Championship.

    Those were the two best chances this bruising back would ever have.

6. Gale Sayers

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    "The Kansas Comet" was a bright and shining star that extinguished way too soon, as Gale Sayers' career was cut short due to injuries after just seven seasons. 

    His impact on the NFL was tremendous.

    During his tenure as a pro, he set records for the most TDs in a season by a rookie (22 in 1965), had the highest kickoff return average of all time (30.56) and scored six touchdowns in a game against the San Francisco 49ers.

    Sayers, though, never got to see the playoffs in his brief time with Chicago.

5. O.J. Simpson

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    In 1973, O.J. Simpson became the first running back to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a single season. But the Bills were 0-1 in their only playoff contest during O.J.'s nine years with the club.

    Simpson was the lone bright spot in an otherwise subpar Buffalo team. He led the league in rushing four times and was tops in rushing touchdowns twice.

    His two final seasons in San Francisco came when the 49ers were in the doldrums.

4. Merlin Olsen

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    Merlin Olsen brought the quiet demeanor to the Los Angeles Rams' famed "Fearsome Foursome" defense. However, his impact on the NFL rings loudly.

    He missed only two games in his 15 seasons and made 14 consecutive Pro Bowls, a record which still stands.

    During Olsen's career, the Rams couldn't get by the more talented clubs such as Dallas and Minnesota in the 1970s. L.A. made Super Bowl XIV, but that was three years after No. 74 hung up his cleats and went into television.

3. Deacon Jones

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    Just as destructive on that legendary defensive line was Deacon Jones, who was far more outspoken and colorful.

    Deacon not only coined the term "sack," he perfected it. If the statistic had been officially kept during his entire career, he probably would have set records that would be hard to top.

    The greatest pass-rusher of all time spent 11 seasons with the Rams, finishing with the Chargers and Redskins.

2. Dick Butkus

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    There may have been no more intimidating tackler than the Bears' legendary linebacker, Dick Butkus.

    He was selected to eight Pro Bowls and made six All-Pro teams. More would have come his way if not for knee injuries that forced him to retire in 1973.

    Opponents were fearful of playing Butkus. But that didn't mean they were scared of facing the Bears. Over the course of Butkus' career, Chicago posted a winning record just once and never qualified for postseason play.

1. Barry Sanders

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    The most elusive running back in NFL history found the Lombardi Trophy to be equally hard to grasp. 

    With Barry Sanders, the Detroit Lions became a legitimate team in the NFC Central and reached the playoffs five times.

    The closest he ever got to the Super Bowl was in 1991, but the Lions fell to a dominant Washington Redskins club in the conference championship.

    In 10 spectacular pro seasons, Barry had more than 15,000 rushing yards, averaged 5.0 yards per carry and scored 109 TDs. He was named a first-team All-Pro six times and made 10 Pro Bowl appearances.

    Only the Super Bowl is missing from this great resume.

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