This year’s Super Bowl features the Kansas City Chiefs, a team that has appeared in three of the last four NFL finals. While the Philadelphia Eagles are back in the Super Bowl for the first time in five years. That means there won’t be a lack of Super Bowl experience in Glendale on February 12th.
While players will enjoy playing on the game’s biggest stage, not everyone is that fortunate. Most NFL pros never make it to a Super Bowl; many have the unfortunate honor of investing enormous amounts of time and effort on the pitch without ever being rewarded with a single appearance.
Here are the ten pros who played the most NFL games in their careers without ever attending a Super Bowl. Most non-Super Bowl NFL games:
Muhlbach was a true Spezial Team perennial, serving as a long snapper for the Detroit Lions from 2004-2020. He spent his entire career in Detroit, but there were only three playoff appearances there during Muhlbach’s tenure – and not a single win! Muhlbach was named to the Pro Bowl twice during his season and was named to the franchise’s all-time team in 2019.
Lowery’s career began in 1978 and ended in 1996, spending most of his time in Kansas City. As a kicker, he was twice selected to the first team All-Pro selection, he scored the most field goals in the league in 1990 and was inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Honor in 2009. The closest Lowery came to the 1993 Super Bowl was when Kansas City lost 13:30 to the Bills in the AFC championship game.
Brown’s career spanned 20 years, from 1986 to 2005 – not bad for an eight-round pick from Arkansas State University. Brown played for four different teams: the Cardinals, Washington (two stops), 49ers, and the Lions. His name on this list has an asterisk: Because Brown was part of the Washington team that even won Super Bowl XXVI – but: Brown missed the entire season with an elbow injury. What bad luck!
One of the standout tight ends of his generation, Gonzalez never made the Super Bowl in his 12 years with the Chiefs. In fact, Kansas City only made the playoffs three times with Gonzalez on the team, never winning a game. With the Falcons he made it to the NFC championship game in 2013, which he lost 24:28 against the 49ers.
Witten has made eleven Pro Bowls and six playoff appearances with the Cowboys. But he never reached even one NFC championship game. His 271 career games are the most in NFL history for a tight end.
Clay Matthews Jr., the second in a line of three generations of players named Clay Matthews to make it to the NFL, played for the Browns from 1978 through 1993, and that says everything about how slim his chances at the Super Bowl were. He spent his last three seasons with the Falcons. However, his son, Clay Matthews III, gave the family a championship ring as a member of the Packers team that won Super Bowl XLV.
Junkin, another long snapper, didn’t have Muhlbach’s honor of spending his entire career in one place. Instead, Junkin played for seven (!) different teams in 20 years from 1983 to 2002: the Bills, Washington, Raiders (two stations), Seahawks, Cardinals, Cowboys and Giants. Seven teams, zero Super Bowls, went silly.
Dawson played in the NFL for 21 years, primarily with the Browns from 1999 to 2012. He was twice selected to the second-team All-Pro selection and made it to the NFC championship game with the 49ers in 2014, a year after they won Super Bowl XLVII lost to the Ravens.
Loyal throughout his 21-year NFL career, Hanson spent his entire time with the Detroit Lions. The kicker was second-team All-Pro selection in 1997, attended two Pro Bowls and made the playoffs six times without winning.
Anderson was selected to two of the NFL’s All-Decade teams in his 23-year career, in the 1980’s and 90’s! But the same applies to him: he was never in the Super Bowl. Anderson spent more than half of his NFL time with the Steelers, from 1982 to 1994 – a time that began three years after Pittsburgh won Super Bowl XIV and ended a year before entering Super Bowl XXX.
His biggest success came in the 1998 NFC Championship game, when he missed a game-winning field goal attempt against the Falcons, ending the season for a Vikings team that had won 15-1 in the regular season. It was Anderson’s only miss that year.
This article was written by Nick Selbe
Data is sourced from Pro Football Reference and includes only regular season stats for Super Bowl-era players.
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