clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Who are the best quarterbacks to never win a Super Bowl?

There are plenty of Hall of Fame QBs who never achieved Super Bowl glory. We’re going over the best of that list to not win.

Quarterback Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins during a 29 to 10 loss in Super Bowl XIX to the San Francisco 49ers played on January 20, 1985 at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, California. Photo by Sylvia Allen/Getty Images

Super Bowl 58 will feature the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers, which means superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes will once again be center stage in the biggest game of the year. His counterpart, Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy, was an MVP candidate at one point this season and is attempting to prove he can be a long-term option for the 49ers. Winning a Super Bowl doesn’t guarantee quarterback success though, as plenty of below-average quarterbacks have won the big game while other superstar passers have failed to secure a ring. Here’s a look at some of the best quarterbacks to never win a Super Bowl.

The most obvious name is Dolphins Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino, who played in one Super Bowl against the 49ers. Marino held the single-season record for passing touchdowns at one point, was a league MVP, and led the NFL in passing yards on five occasions. He was a nine-time Pro Bowler and is definitely the best quarterback to have never won a championship.

Minnesota Vikings legend Fran Tarkenton is among the greats who have never won. He was more notable in his second stint with the team when he won league MVP and led the league in passing touchdowns. He was also a nine-time Pro Bowler like Marino and played in three Super Bowls. He doesn’t have the statistics of Marino, largely due to the style of play evolving in the NFL but he’s among the greats that never won.

Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly never won league MVP, but he did lead the league in passing touchdowns in 1991 and was a five-time Pro Bowler. He’s responsible for leading the Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls in what was arguably the most successful era for the franchise until recently. Current Bills quarterback Josh Allen could also be considered among the best to have never won.

More recent notable quarterbacks that haven’t won a Super Bowl include Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, and Steve McNair. Vick didn’t play in a Super Bowl and wasn’t a traditional quarterback, but he was arguably the most dynamic of the three due to his rushing ability. There are also plenty of issues off the field with Vick, so fans might find him controversial. He’s still one of the best never to win. Former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon is another name worth mentioning here. Although he never really accumulated the numbers until later in his career, he does have a league MVP honor and led the league in passing touchdowns during that campaign.

Carson Palmer led some good teams with the Bengals and Cardinals, although he never quite got to the Super Bowl. Former Panthers quarterback Cam Newton won league MVP when he led Carolina to the Super Bowl and deserves a mention in this piece despite his eventual decline.

Like Allen, current quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Lamar Jackson deserve some recognition. Burrow is the only quarterback outside of Tom Brady to defeat Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the postseason, so he’s certainly deserving. And Jackson is likely going to collect his second league MVP honor this season, even though he hasn’t played in a Super Bowl yet.

This article can also be found in our Ultimate Guide to Super Bowl 58, presented by Frank’s Red Hot.