The NFL's rich history has been chock full of great players who just couldn't win the big one. Sadly, those players are often forgotten because of the lack of rings on their fingers.
This slideshow honors the players who never won a Super Bowl by creating an all-time offense of ring-less players (Super Bowl era).
Dan Marino is the obvious choice here. He is considered to be one of the best passers to ever play the game, and despite the lack of a competent defense or running back, he still took the Dolphins to the Super Bowl once and the playoffs many times.
Marino's lightning-fast release allowed him to shine as a pocket passer, even when all eyes were on him, and it is a shame one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time retired without a ring. He still holds the record for most passing yards in a season and accompanied those 5,084 yards with 48 TDs, ending his career with 61,361 passing yards and 420 TDs.
The only thing missing from Marino's incredible career is a Super Bowl win.
Honorable Mention: Fran Tarkenton, Dan Fouts, Jim Kelly
Barry Sanders, possibly the greatest running back to ever play the game, sat crying in the locker room after the last game of his career.
Because the Detroit Lions had just finished a dismal season at 5-11, a record that was all too familiar to Sanders.
Until his abrupt retirement at the age of 30, Barry Sanders played for a Detroit team that could never find a way to succeed and featured Sanders as their only offensive playmaker for most of his career. This legendary, elusive back dominated helpless defenses for years, but unfortunately, he was never able to carry the mediocre Lions to a title.
Honorable Mention: Gale Sayers, Thurman Thomas, O.J. Simpson
Cris Carter, who is somehow still not in the Hall of Fame, had some of the best hands in NFL history. The predecessor to Larry Fitzgerald was part of the high-octane Vikings offense of 1998 (with Randall Cunningham, Randy Moss and Robert Smith) that barely missed out on the Super Bowl because of Gary Anderson's missed field goal at the end of the game, and Morton Andersen's completed field goal in overtime to give the Falcons the win.
Carter is one of only six players in NFL history to grab more than 1,000 receptions in his career, and only Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Jerry Rice and Marvin Harrison have more than him. Carter began his career with the Eagles, but was cut because of alcohol and substance abuse, which he overcame later. Once he was picked up by the Vikings, Carter hit his stride to become a dominant force at receiver and one of the best to ever play the game.
All that is missing to top off Cris Carter's illustrious career is a Super Bowl win.
Tim Brown is one of the most underrated players to ever step on the field. Drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 1988, Brown is also one of six players in NFL history to record more than 1,000 receptions in his career, and he is only seven behind Cris Carter.
Brown could do it all in his 16-year career in the NFL. Appropriately named "Touchdown Timmy" when he was in college, Brown could produce as a deep threat, slot receiver or punt/kick returner as a football player. His 105 touchdown receptions are third all time behind Jerry Rice and Cris Carter, and Brown made the Hall of Fame in 2010 to close up his ring-less 16 years in the NFL.
Honorable Mention: Andre Reed, Steve Largent
Forget Tony Gonzalez—Kellen Winslow Sr. is the greatest tight end to ever play in the NFL.
Probably the most talented player on the famed Air Coryell offense, Winslow is the perfect example of a player who never quit (see: Epic in Miami). Although his team never won the big one (largely due to the mediocre defense), Winslow was absolutely phenomenal during his short nine-year career in the NFL.
Winslow could run-block or catch the ball, and his skills were unlike any that had been seen before. Few players rival Winslow's skill, and none can call themselves better. He posted three 1,000-yard seasons during his time with the Chargers, including one season with 10 touchdowns. A mediocre defense was all that stood between Kellen Winslow, Dan Fouts, Charlie Joiner and a championship.
Honorable Mention: Ozzie Newsome
Anthony Munoz, probably the best offensive tackle in the game, played every season of his career with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Unfortunately, that is why he is featured in this article.
The Bengals only made the Super Bowl twice, and both times their dreams were crushed by Joe Montana and the San Fransisco 49ers.
Still, Munoz's legacy is not hurt by his lack of a ring.
Every snap of every game of every season, he punished the defensive lineman who had the misfortune of facing him. Ranked the 11th greatest player of all time by NFL Network, Anthony Munoz was the first Bengal to reach the Hall of Fame and definitely the most talented Bengal of all time. He was one defensive stop in the fourth quarter away from a Super Bowl ring, but either way, he is the greatest offensive lineman of all time.
Jackie Slater played for 20 years in the NFL, all at a high level, all with the same team.
And no, he was not a kicker (or Brett Favre).
Slater was an offensive lineman who went head-to-head with some of the biggest guys in the game in the trenches every play.
Slater is the definition of durability. He was a solid tackle for the Rams for two decades, and even though they could never win the Super Bowl, he helped players like Eric Dickerson shine. In 1983, Slater had possibly his best season when he was part of a line that allowed only 23 sacks and helped Dickerson rush for 1,808 yards as a rookie.
Although he only reached the Super Bowl once and suffered a loss to the 49ers, Jackie Slater has cemented his place as one of the best offensive tackles to play the game.
Honorable Mention: Ron Yary, Dan Dierdorf, Walter Jones
John Hannah made the All-Pro team more than the Pro Bowl, and he is widely regarded as one of the greatest guards to ever play football. He was somewhat short for an offensive lineman, but he used his immense leg strength to make up for it.
Hannah was the most important piece to an offensive line that set a still-standing NFL record for rushing yards and visited the Super Bowl in 1985, although they were smashed to pieces by Mike Singletary, Walter Payton and the Bears.
He was also voted Offensive Lineman of the Year five times to go with his 10 All-Pro team nods, nine Pro Bowl appearances, and places on the 1970's and 1980's NFL All-Decade teams.
Randall McDaniel, apart from having a name that rhymes, was a dominant offensive lineman (and occasional fullback) for the Minnesota Vikings. He made 12 consecutive Pro Bowls, started 202 consecutive games, made the All-NFC team 10 times and made nine All-Pro teams during his career.
McDaniel was also part of the record-setting Vikings offense of 1998 with Cris Carter, Randall Cunningham and Randy Moss, a team that came extremely close to making the Super Bowl. McDaniel was a key part of the Vikings' offense every season he played with them, and despite a lack of rings, he is an incredible offensive lineman who is one of the best of all time.
Honorable Mention: Will Shields, Mike Munchak
Bruce Matthews could've been placed at any position on the offensive line.
Because he is the most versatile offensive lineman in NFL history.
Matthews excelled at guard, tackle and center, and blocked for legendary players like Warren Moon and Earl Campbell. He was selected to 14 career Pro Bowls (tying an NFL record set by Merlin Olsen; they were also consecutive), 10 All-Pro teams, the 1990s All-Decade team and set a NFL record for games played by an offensive lineman—a whopping 296.
While there aren't any real stats to measure offensive linemen by, Bruce Matthews' value to the Oilers' offense was the same as the value of a mint-condition issue of Action Comics No. 1 to a collector. Matthews punished defensive linemen from every position on the line, and besides Anthony Munoz, Bruce is the greatest offensive lineman in NFL history.
Oh, and his nephew is Clay Matthews.
Honorable Mention: Dwight Stephenson
Every one of the players on this list was a hard-working, incredibly talented player who unfortunately could not win the Super Bowl.
That should not diminish the value and legacy of each one of these players though, and each one deserves a spot in Canton. Even though not every player can win it all in the NFL, that did not stop any one of these players from becoming one of the best.
And if all these players had the good fortune of being on the same team, there is no doubt they would have more rings than they have fingers (see: Bill Russell, NBA).