It’s the eve of Super Bowl Sunday, and as fans often do when their team isn’t playing in the big game, they wonder what their team needs to do in order to be there next year.
The Los Angeles Chargers haven’t played in the Super Bowl since 1994—the only appearance in franchise history—meaning quarterback Philip Rivers has never played in the game. Hopefully for him and his teammates, he’ll get that chance before the sun sets on his terrific career.
And what about that career?
Could Rivers go down as the greatest quarterback in NFL history to never win the Super Bowl? Now, I know that’s a bold statement. In fact, I’m more than certain that even some diehard Chargers fans read that sentence and immediately said “No”! But hear me out.
It’s difficult to win a Super Bowl. Only a handful of quarterbacks have ever done it, and when you include the fact that some of those quarterbacks are Mark Rypien, Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer, it’s not the best way to measure a player’s career.
That’s why I hate when someone says Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all-time by immediately bringing up how many Super Bowls he’s won.
Teams win Super Bowls, not players. But there are definitely some great players that have never won a Super Bowl and in some cases, never even played in one.
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That is the case for Rivers, who is the ultimate competitor.
But he’s more than that. He’s been a great quarterback, one that ranks at No. 12 in career passing yardage. He took over as the Chargers’ all-time leading passer last season, surpassing the great Dan Fouts, another quarterback who never played in the Super Bowl.
In addition to that, Rivers ranks at No. 8 all-time with 314 touchdown passes. That number will get even bigger, as Rivers figures to have at least a couple seasons left at 35 years old.
And then, there’s his most impressive statistic. The fact that since becoming the team’s starting quarterback in 2006, he’s never missed a game. He’s only missed a handful of snaps in that time.
Rivers is a true leader and one that has the Chargers in just about every game, regardless of what kind of help he has around him.
So if Rivers isn’t the best quarterback to never win a Super Bowl, who is? A case can certainly be made for a few guys.
Fran Tarkenton ranks among the league’s all-time passing yardage and touchdown pass leaders, and led the Minnesota Vikings to three Super Bowls. However, his teams lost each of those games.
Warren Moon threw for what seemed like a million yards between the CFL and NFL, but never really sniffed a Super Bowl appearance, despite playing on some very strong Houston Oilers teams.
Dan Marino is the answer that most comes up when the “best player to never win a Super Bowl” question is posed. Marino was a gifted passer, one that went to the Super Bowl in his second season with the Miami Dolphins in 1984. His team lost that game and unfortunately for him and Dolphins fans, he never got back.
Marino ranks No. 5 all-time in both passing yardage and passing touchdowns. However, he holds an 8-10 all-time playoff record, including that Super Bowl defeat.
Rivers still has time to expand upon his gaudy numbers. Of course, fans of the Chargers hope that he wins a Super Bowl before his career is over, leaving this debate to contain names like Tarkenton, Moon and Marino.
But should he walk away without that elusive ring, Rivers’ name definitely belongs in that conversation.