Few NFL players have achieved anywhere near the level of success that Tom Brady has.
The Patriots quarterback will play in his seventh Super Bowl on Sunday, and is seeking his fifth ring in the pivotal matchup against the Falcons. Most NFL players—even some of the best of all-time—never get to win the biggest game the sport has to offer.
Here’s a look back at the 10 greatest players to never win a Super Bowl.
RB Barry Sanders
Sanders averaged over 1,500 rushing yards each season and made 10 Pro Bowls during his Hall of Fame career, but he retired from the game without ever having the chance to play in the big game.
The Lions qualified for the playoffs five times during Sanders’ 10 seasons in the league, with a 41-10 loss to the Washington Redskins in the 1991 NFC title game serving as the farthest he ever advanced in the postseason.
QB Dan Marino
One of the most prolific, talented and productive quarterbacks of all-time, Marino lost his only Super Bowl appearance to Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers in 1984. He would never make it back to the big game, finishing his career with just eight playoff wins over an otherwise decorated 17-year NFL career.
The Hall of Famer is widely recognized as the greatest quarterback never to win a Super Bowl among fans and analysts alike.
DE Bruce Smith
Smith remains the lone member of the 200-sack club, but he also retired in 2003 without a Super Bowl win.
He lost four straight Super Bowls (1990-93) as a member of the Buffalo Bills, only to play in just four more playoff games over the rest of his NFL career.
DL Merlin Olsen
Olsen played in 14 Pro Bowls as a member of the Los Angeles Rams, which ties him with Peyton Manning, Bruce Matthews and Tony Gonzalez for the most appearances by any player. And yet, he never even received the opportunity to play in a Super Bowl.
The Hall of Famer won just three playoff games over 15 NFL seasons. His last game ever was a loss to the Vikings in the NFC title game in 1976.
QB Fran Tarkenton
Tarkenton led the Vikings to three Super Bowls in four years during the 1970s, but Minnesota lost all three.
The Hall of Fame quarterback struggled on the big stage, throwing just one touchdown and six interceptions in his three Super Bowl losses.
WR Randy Moss
Moss caught 156 touchdown passes over 218 career games, but a Super Bowl ring eluded him.
He was part of two of the best teams to not win a Super Bowl (1998 Minnesota Vikings, 2007 Patriots), and also lost in a Super Bowl as a member of the San Francisco 49ers in 2012.
OL Anthony Munoz
Munoz’s Hall of Fame career includes 11 Pro Bowls, nine first-team All-Pro selections and recognition as one of the greatest offensive linemen of all-time. It also includes zero Super Bowl wins.
He played in the Super Bowl twice, but the Cincinnati Bengals were defeated by the 49ers in both instances.
RB O.J. Simpson
Simpson garnered a lot of accolades and accomplished nearly everything a running back would look to do during their career, save for a Super Bowl win.
He was an MVP, Pro Bowler, All-Pro and rushing champion, but never played in the big game. In fact, Simpson only played in one career playoff game—a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1974.
TE Tony Gonzalez
A 14-time Pro Bowler and six-time All-Pro, Gonzalez retired in 2013 and is considered by most to be the greatest tight end of all-time.
Unfortunately for him, he never got to experience a Super Bowl win. He finally received the opportunity to possibly play in the big game after the Falcons advanced to the 2012 NFC title game, but Atlanta fell just short against San Francisco, and Gonzalez was out of luck.
LB Dick Butkus
Butkus is remembered as one of the toughest and most recognized defensive players ever, but the Hall of Fame linebacker never even got a chance to play in a postseason game during his nine-year NFL career.
In fact, the Chicago Bears finished over .500 only twice with Butkus on the roster. He did, however, manage to make the Pro Bowl eight times in nine seasons, but never really got the benefit of playing on a contender.