Every offseason, we see the same question plastered on every sports page looking for mid-May clicks: “Which players deserve to win their first ring?” This is good fun, but results in the same names being recycled repeatedly.
I’d like to propose a twist: Assembling a super team of veteran players still searching for their first Super Bowl win. All these players must meet the following criteria:
- Have not won a Super Bowl with any team (obviously).
- Must be over 30 years of age.
- Must have at least one Pro Bowl selection.
We will begin assembling our “need a ring” team with the offense. The offense will consist of one quarterback, one running back, two wide receivers, one tight end, two tackles, two guards and one center. May the selections commence!
Quarterback: Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers
With most of the top-tier quarterbacks (Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers) having at least one Super Bowl win, we are left with Philip Rivers.
Since taking over the starting quarterback job in 2006, Rivers has quietly been one of the NFL’s best. The seven-time Pro Bowler is the franchise’s all-time leader in passing yards, touchdowns and completions. He also has not missed a game in over a decade.
Rivers came close to the Super Bowl several times early in his career, but was never able to finish the playoff run. With an improved defense and explosive supporting cast, Rivers has a good shot at returning to the playoffs in 2018.
Honorable mention: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Running back: Frank Gore, Miami Dolphins
11 of the top 12 all-time leaders in yards from scrimmage are in the Hall of Fame. The other is Frank Gore, who ranks seventh. In his illustrious career, Gore has surpassed the likes of Marshall Faulk and Ladainian Tomlinson on the NFL’s all-time rushing list.
He was the center of the San Francisco 49ers’ offense for nine seasons, and nearly delivered the city a title in 2012. Despite being 35 years old, Gore proved that he can still be effective out of the backfield. Last season with the Indianapolis Colts, he rushed for 961 yards, even without the presence of Andrew Luck.
He is in the twilight years of his career, but it would be a special sight to see Gore end his spectacular run with a Lombardi Trophy.
Honorable mention: Adrian Peterson, free agent
Wide receivers: Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals and DeSean Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
No surprise here. Fitzgerald is an all-time great that has been wasted on below-average quarterbacks like Kevin Kolb and Drew Stanton. The amount of production Fitzgerald has had given the circumstances is simply amazing.
He currently sits third on the all-time receiving yards list with 15,545. In a 10-year span from 2007-17, Fitzgerald has missed the Pro Bowl just once. He is by far the best wide receiver of this generation, and it would be a sin to have him retire without winning the game’s ultimate prize.
Entering his 11th season, DeSean Jackson has had himself a very productive career. The prototypical deep threat, Jackson could take on any defense. His tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles was his best, where he averaged over 1,000 yards per season.
The three-time Pro Bowler is not the player he used to be, but he can still make an impact in the passing game. Last season with Tampa Bay, Jackson caught 50 passes for 668 yards and three touchdowns.
Honorable mention: Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
Tight end: Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
It is a tough call between Greg Olsen and Vernon Davis, but we will go with Olsen here. Since arriving via trade in Carolina, Olsen has been the Panthers’ go-to target. He has been Cam Newton’s security blanket since being drafted No. 1 overall and has seen a huge bump in production in the latter part of his career.
Prior to the 2017 season, Olsen had three straight years with over 1,000 receiving yards. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in each of those seasons as well. He was one game shy of earning his first ring in 2015 on a 15-1 Panthers squad.
With a talented quarterback and solid defense, the door is still open for Olsen to win his first Super Bowl.
Honorable mention: Vernon Davis, Washington Redskins
Tackles: Duane Brown, Seattle Seahawks and Joe Staley, San Francisco 49ers
In his time in Houston, Duane Brown was the anchor of the Texans’ offensive line. Outside of Joe Thomas, it would be difficult to name a better left tackle than Brown during his tenure with the Texans. He protected Matt Schaub’s (and very briefly Deshaun Watson’s) blindside with near perfection.
Unfortunately, Brown has only seen the playoffs three times, losing in the divisional round each time.
Joe Staley has suffered a similar fate so far in his career. Despite being a lockdown left tackle, the teams Staley has played on simply were not good enough to bring home the hardware. He was just a few yards short of winning it all in Super Bowl XLVII, but has not reached the big game since.
Staley is the model of consistency in San Fran, going to the Pro Bowl in six of the last seven years.
Honorable mention: Andrew Whitworth, Los Angeles Rams
Guards: Mike Iupati, Arizona Cardinals and Andy Levitre, Atlanta Falcons
Another member of the 2012 49ers, Mike Iupati helped pave the way for Frank Gore for most of his career. After being selected first-team All-Pro in 2012, Iupati went on to make three more Pro Bowls with the 49ers and Cardinals.
He missed the majority of last season due to injury, but will likely bounce back in 2018. With teammates David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald returning, as well as exciting rookie Josh Rosen, Iupati could return to the playoffs for the first time in three years.
The rules had to be stretched slightly to include Levitre on this list. Andy Levitre has never made the Pro Bowl, despite nine years as a solid starting guard. In his career, Levitre has only missed three starts and has played center, guard and tackle.
He was also inches away from winning his first Super Bowl ring, losing to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI. At only 32 years old and on a perennial playoff team, Levitre could very well earn his way off of this list next year.
Honorable mention: None
Center: Ryan Kalil, Carolina Panthers
One of the most underrated players on his team, Ryan Kalil has consistently been one of the best centers in the NFL. In his 11-year tenure with the Panthers, Kalil has built himself an impressive résumé. He has been selected to five Pro Bowls and was a first-team All-Pro twice (2013, 2015).
Like many of the players on this super team, Kalil came up just one game short of his first ring. With 2018 being his final year in the NFL, it would be fitting to send Kalil off into the sunset as a Super Bowl champion.
Honorable mention: Alex Mack, Atlanta Falcons
Featured image by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
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