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10 best quarterbacks to never win a Super Bowl

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Admittedly, there are times when we put too much emphasis on the importance of quarterbacks winning Super Bowls, putting the best quarterbacks to never win a Super Bowl out in the cold.

Just like there are mediocre quarterbacks who have a Super Bowl ring, there are some great QBs who didn’t win a Super Bowl. More times than not, they aren’t to blame for that. Perhaps they played on one of the best Super Bowl-losing teams or perhaps they never had a strong enough supporting cast.

Best quarterbacks to never win a Super Bowl

Reasons aside, who are the best quarterbacks to never win a Super Bowl? There are a few who could come to mind right away. But once we started thinking about this, we found a lot of great candidates. However, we’ve narrowed down our list to the 10 greatest quarterbacks not to win the Super Bowl.

10. Cam Newton

When Cam Newton won MVP honors and led the Panthers to a 15-1 record in 2015, he looked destined to win a Super Bowl ring to go along with the national championship he won in college at Auburn. Unfortunately for the Panthers, they faced a historically good Denver defense in Super Bowl 50.

Even more unfortunate, that year was the peak of Newton’s career. He never came close to matching his performance in that season and only got Carolina back to the playoffs one more time. Even though Newton was among the most exciting quarterbacks in the NFL during the 2010s, he never won a Super Bowl.


9. Matt Ryan

One could argue that Matt Ryan is the most unfortunate quarterback on our list. He and the Falcons led 21-3 at halftime of Super Bowl LI, making it look as if Ryan would cap off his MVP season with a Super Bowl ring. But we all know what happened after halftime.

The Patriots came storming back to spoil the party.

That was one of six seasons in which Ryan led the Falcons to the playoffs during a remarkable career that included four Pro Bowl selections. But Ryan was just 4-6 in the playoffs, only getting the Falcons as far as the NFC Championship Game twice. Ryan got one last crack with the Colts in 2022, although that season was a complete disaster, leaving Ryan among the great quarterbacks to never win a Super Bowl.

8. Steve McNair

Without question, Steve McNair had a remarkable career. He won MVP in 2003 and went to four Pro Bowls. However, the guy who worked his way from Alcorn State to the third overall pick in the 1995 Draft never won a Super Bowl.

In Super Bowl XXXIV, he and the Titans came one yard short of forcing overtime, bringing McNair painfully close to the top of the mountain. A few years later, McNair led Tennessee back to the AFC Championship Game, again falling short. McNair had two more attempts with the Ravens late in his career, even leading Baltimore to a 13-3 record in 2006. But the Ravens suffered a 15-6 playoff loss to the Colts last year, ending what would be McNair’s last chance to make a Super Bowl run.


7. Dan Fouts

Like a few of the quarterbacks on our list, Dan Fouts hitched his wagon to a franchise that hasn’t won a Super Bowl. Overall, his career was a rousing success with six Pro Bowl selections helping to pave the way to the Hall of Fame.

But despite playing for the Chargers from 1973 to 1987, Fouts never got to a Super Bowl. In fact, the Chargers only made the playoffs four times with Fouts at the helm. Despite making the AFC Championship game twice, the Chargers lost both of those games.

6. Philip Rivers

There’s no doubt that Philip Rivers deserves some type of lifetime achievement award in lieu of never winning a Super Bowl. He went to the Pro Bowl eight times in his career and was incredibly consistent throughout.

But the Chargers have never won a Super Bowl and Rivers couldn’t change that. He led them to the AFC Championship Game just once despite seven trips to the playoffs with the Chargers. Rivers made one last effort to win with the Colts in 2020, only for that season and his career to end with a loss in the Wild Card Round.

5. Donovan McNabb

During his 11 seasons in Philadelphia, Donovan McNabb came close to winning a Super Bowl many times but just never sealed the deal. In those 11 seasons, McNabb was a six-time Pro Bowler and helped the Eagles to the playoffs eight times.

As Philadelphia sports fans know all too well, that era included four losses in the NFC Championship Game. The one time the Eagles made it to the Super Bowl during McNabb’s tenure, they suffered a 24-21 loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX. McNabb threw three interceptions in that game, as he ran out of gas late in the game with Philly’s late comeback falling short.

4. Jim Kelly

There is perhaps no more gut-wrenching story of a quarterback who didn’t win a Super Bowl than Jim Kelly’s story. He led the Bills to four straight Super Bowl appearances in the early 90s, serving as the leader of some truly spectacular offensive teams.

Alas, Kelly and the Bills came up short in all four trips to the big game. Scott Norwood’s infamous field goal miss deprived Kelly and the city of Buffalo of a win in Super Bowl XXV. The Bills lost that game by a single point and were double-digit losers in each of the next three Super Bowls, leaving Kelly among the greatest quarterbacks to not win the Super Bowl.

3. Fran Tarkenton

While Fran Tarkenton is best known for his days with the Vikings, the Vikings are best known for never winning a Super Bowl. To be fair, Tarkenton’s time with the Giants didn’t help him get a ring either.

During his second stint in Minnesota, Tarkenton and the Vikings went to the Super Bowl three times in four seasons. But each trip ended with a loss of 10 points or more. Despite falling short of a Super Bowl win, Tarkenton is a Hall of Famer who went to the Pro Bowl nine times, putting him high on the list of the best quarterbacks to never win a Super Bowl.

2. Warren Moon

If it’s any consolation, Warren Moon won five straight Grey Cup titles during his time in the CFL, earning Grey Cup MVP honors twice. Unfortunately, his knack for winning championships didn’t translate to the NFL.

During his time in Houston, Moon helped the Oilers get to the playoffs in seven straight seasons. But they were just 3-7 in those playoff games. Moon spent the final seven years of his NFL career with three different teams, chasing a championship. But he never even played in a conference championship game, much less a Super Bowl.

1. Dan Marino

It’s hard to envision anyone surpassing Dan Marino as the best quarterback to never win a Super Bowl ring. He’s a Hall of Famer who just never had enough help around him.

Marino’s best chance to get a ring came in his second season when he won MVP honors and put together one of the best individual seasons a quarterback has had in NFL history. Marino led Miami to a 14-2 record during the regular season and ultimately to Super Bowl XIX.

However, the Dolphins ran into a historically good 49ers team that was 15-1 during the regular season and outscored its three playoff opponents 82-26. They were close to perfect and ruined Marino’s best opportunity to win a Super Bowl.

Despite going to nine Pro Bowls and leading the league in passing five times, Marino and the Dolphins only made it as far as the AFC Championship Game one other time, as 17 great seasons wasn’t long enough for Marino to win a Super Bowl.

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