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20 Best NFL Players Never to Win a Super Bowl

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20 of the Best NFL Players Who Never Won a Super Bowl

Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

In every level of sports, there are at least a handful (and most of time, several) players who were among the best of their class but never won a title. Throughout the NFL's almost 100-year history, there have been countless players who never won a championship, the bulk of which played their entire careers before the first Super Bowl in 1967.

Even since then, quite a few elite players, including many Hall of Famers, have put together some outstanding careers, but were never able to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. The folks here at have compiled a list of 20 such players. This list does not include players who are still active for the 2012 season, but does include one who hasn't officially retired.

Take all of that with a grain of salt as you view the 20 best NFL players who never won a Super Bowl:

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Barry Sanders: Detroit Lions, 1989-1998

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Arguably the greatest running back to ever play the game, Barry Sanders was the primary reason the Detroit Lions were anywhere near the playoffs during the 1990s. Many claim he could have won multiple Super Bowls had he played for a better team.

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Bruce Matthews: Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans, 1983-2001


Considered by many to be the greatest offensive lineman in league history, Bruce Matthews was never able to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. As a consolation, he got to see his nephew, Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, do so in 2010.

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Bruce Smith: Buffalo Bills, 1985-1999; Washington Redskins, 2000-2003


One of the greatest pass-rushers of his generation, Bruce Smith is one of three Buffalo Bills on this list to play in four straight Super Bowls and come up short each time.

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Cris Carter: Philadelphia Eagles, 1987-1989; Minnesota Vikings, 1990-2001; Miami Dolphins, 2002

Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

One of the more colorful personalities in NFL history, Cris Carter's legacy is highly debated even today as many consider him overrated while an equal amount claim he was actually underrated as a player. Regardless, he played for some good teams (the Minnesota Vikings went 15-1 in 1999) but never won the big one.

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Dan Fouts: San Diego Chargers, 1973-1987


Considered by many to be one of the greatest quarterbacks in league history, Dan Fouts put together a Hall of Fame career with the San Diego Chargers while setting multiple NFL records that have since been broken.

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Dan Marino: Miami Dolphins, 1983-1999

Jonathan Brownfield-US PRESSWIRE

Dan Marino is one of the few players on this list to have actually played in a Super Bowl and not win it. The Miami Dolphins Hall of Famer held nearly every passing record in the book until 2006.

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Derrick Thomas: Kansas City Chiefs, 1989-1999


The late Derrick Thomas is another Hall of Famer who set several records with one team while never winning a title. Thomas still holds the single-game sack record with 7.0.

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Dick Butkus: Chicago Bears, 1965-1973


This former Chicago Bears star accomplished just about everything a football player can except for a Super Bowl title. Dick Butkus has taken home every honor imaginable (including having an award named after him), but never tracked down a Lombardi Trophy.

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Earl Campbell: Houston Oilers: 1978-1984, New Orleans Saints: 1984-1985

Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE

Earl Campbell is one of only three players to have won the Heisman Trophy, been drafted No. 1 overall and be elected into both the Pro and College Football Halls of Fame. Campbell was recently named the 55th-best NFL player of all time by the league.

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Eric Dickerson: Los Angeles Rams, 1983-1987; Indianapolis Colts, 1987-1991; Los Angeles Raiders, 1992; Atlanta Falcons, 1993


Eric Dickerson's most notable accomplishment is his single-season record of 2,105 yards, which still stands today. He bounced around the league toward the end of his career, but is still considered to be one of the greatest running backs in NFL history.

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Fran Tarkenton: Minnesota Vikings, 1961-1966 & 1972-1978; New York Giants, 1967-1971

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

One of the greatest scrambling quarterbacks in NFL history, Fran Tarkenton also could throw the ball and throw it well. His 47,003 yards are sixth-most all time, behind Marino and one other player on this list.

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Gale Sayers: Chicago Bears, 1965-1971

Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

Arguably the greatest kick returner in league history, Gale Sayers is a member of both the Pro and College Football Halls of Fame. Like Butkus, he played for an era of Bears teams that were never able to bring home the title.

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Terrell Owens: Too Many to Count

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Some might scoff at this one, but Terrell Owens is second to only Jerry Rice in almost every career receiving category. A player with that kind of resume who never won a Super Bowl certainly deserves a spot on this list.

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Jim Kelly: Buffalo Bills, 1986-1996

Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE

One of the most dynamic quarterbacks of his generation, Jim Kelly led the Bills to four straight Super Bowl appearances, but they came up shot in each one. This may keep his name off the all-time great quarterback lists, but it's somewhere on almost every career passing stats list.

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Kellen Winslow: San Diego Chargers, 1979-1987


As far as retired players, Kellen Winslow in considered the greatest tight end in NFL history. He played more like a wide receiver, which is the model for most tight ends in the league today.

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LaDainian Tomlinson: San Diego Chargers, 2001-2009; New York Jets, 2010-2011

Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESS

LaDainian Tomlinson was one of the most productive running backs in NFL history and ranks fifth on the all-time rushing list behind four Hall of Famers. There's no question he'll join them in that elite club in five years.

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O.J. Simpson: Buffalo Bills, 1969-1977; San Francisco 49ers, 1978-1979


All off-the-field drama aside, O.J. Simpson was an electrifying running back and was the first NFL player to rush for over 2,000 yards in a single season. In fact, he did it in 1973, when the regular season was only 14 games long.

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Steve Largent: Seattle Seahawks, 1976-1989


Many consider Steve Largent to have the best hands in NFL history. He never played for a dynamic team, but he could catch the football arguably better than anyone to ever play the game.

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Thurman Thomas: Buffalo Bills, 1988-1999; Miami Dolphins, 2000

Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE

Thurman Thomas rounds out the Bills on this list who played in four consecutive Super Bowls but never brought home the trophy. With 12,074 career rushing yards, Thomas ranks 14th on the all-time list.

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Warren Moon: Too Many to Count

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Warren Moon threw the ball a ton during his career, which is the reason why he's fifth on the all-time career passing yards list and even higher on several others, including interceptions. Fortunately for Moon, Brett Favre took most of those "titles" away from him.