Here are the best quarterbacks who played all, or most of the prime years of their career, during the Super Bowl era and do not have a Super Bowl ring.
1. Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins: Got to a Super Bowl in his 2nd year in the league. Never got back. Never had much of a defense in Miami, but put up video game numbers in an era when nobody else did.
2. Jim Kelly, Buffalo Bills: Lost four Super Bowls. Was close in a couple. Sometimes forgotten – he played in the USFL for two years after a great career at the University of Miami, and only arrived in the NFL at 26.
3. Fran Tarkenton, Minnesota Vikings: Lost three Super Bowls. Was a 9-time Pro Bowler, Was the MVP in 1975, and put up massive numbers, especially with the Vikings. Was basically the Jim Kelly of the 70s.
4. Dan Fouts, San Diego Chargers: Prolific passer who couldn’t get the Chargers to a Super Bowl, but like Marino, never played on a team that had a defense. Air Coryell, led by Fouts, led the NFL in passing yards for four straight years.
5. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys: Undrafted, barely made the Cowboys, and then ascended to become one of the best QBs in their storied history. Never made an NFC Title game, much less a Super Bowl. In his best season (2014), he threw 34 TDs and led the league in five passing categories, but it ended in controversy when Dez Bryant caught a TD and the refs screwed Dallas.
6. Warren Moon, Houston Oilers: For now, the Hall of Famer is in the Top 10 in several passing categories, and he did that in a run-heavy era. Never was able to get to a Super Bowl.
7. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers: In a pass-happy era, he’s already 8th all-time in TD passes (314). He should eclipse Marino, who is 5th (420). He’s 11th all time in completions, and 12th all-time in yards. The Chargers are only 4-5 in the playoffs under Rivers, with an AFC title game loss in New England.
8. Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles: Went to four straight NFC title games, but only one Super Bowl. Had a very good career, but may fall short of the Hall of Fame. Two lasting memories: He didn’t understand overtime, and he vomited on the field late in the Super Bowl.
9. Steve McNair, Tennessee Titans: Got to a Super Bowl and lost a nailbiter to the Rams. Had a very nice five-year run from 199-2003, but here’s a weird stat: McNair only had one postseason where he threw more TDs than INTs.
10. Vinny Testaverde, New York Jets/Tampa Bay Bucs: Went from elite prospect coming out of Miami to major flop early in his career (remember the color blind talk?). Rebounded with the Jets and got to an AFC title game at 35 before losing to John Elway’s Broncos. Played 21 seasons, so he’s got big stats: Top 15 all-time in completions, yards, and interceptions, among others.