This year’s Super Bowl matchup features a Chiefs teams that’s appeared in three of the last four big games, while the Eagles are back for the first time in five seasons. That means there will be no shortage of Super Bowl experience in Glendale on Feb. 12, even if it’s tilted more toward one sideline.
But while these players will get to enjoy the experience of playing on the game’s biggest stage, not everyone is so fortunate. Most players never reach a Super Bowl, but some have the distinction of putting in the most time and work on the field without the reward of a single appearance. Here are the 10 players who logged the most career games while never playing in a single Super Bowl.
Data comes from Pro Football Reference and only includes regular-season stats among players from the Super Bowl era.
Most Games Played With Zero Super Bowl Appearances
T-9. Don Muhlbach, 260
Muhlbach was a true specialist’s specialist, serving as the long snapper for the Lions from 2004 to ’20. All that stability came at the cost of spending his entire career with a Detroit franchise that managed just three postseason appearances and no wins during Muhlbach’s tenure. Muhlbach did make two Pro Bowl appearances during his playing days, and named to the franchise’s all-time team in ’19.
T-9. Nick Lowery, 260
Lowery’s career began in 1978 and ended in ’96, with the majority of it spent in Kansas City. A two-time first-team All-Pro selection at kicker, he led the NFL in scoring in ’90 and was inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Honor in 2009. The closest Lowery came to the Super Bowl was in 1993, when Kansas City lost to the Bills in the AFC championship game, 30–13.
8. Ray Brown, 262
Brown’s career spanned 20 years from 1986 to 2005—not bad for an eighth-round pick out of Arkansas State. He played for four different franchises: the Cardinals, Washington (two stints), 49ers and Lions. His appearance on this list comes with an asterisk: Brown was a part of the Washington team that won Super Bowl XXVI, but he missed the entire season with an elbow injury.
7. Tony Gonzalez, 270
The preeminent tight end of his generation, Gonzalez’s 12 years with the Chiefs never materialized in a trip to the Super Bowl. In fact, Kansas City only made the postseason three times with Gonzalez on the team, never winning a game. He made it to the 2013 NFC championship game with the Falcons, losing to the 49ers, 28–24.
6. Jason Witten, 271
Witten made 11 Pro Bowls and six postseason appearances with the Cowboys, yet never advanced to even an NFC championship game. His 271 career games are the most in NFL history for a tight end.
5. Clay Matthews Jr., 278
The second in a line of three generations of players named Clay Matthews to make it to the NFL, Clay Jr. played for the Browns from 1978 to ’93, which is all you need to know about how dismal his chances of making the Super Bowl were. His final three seasons came with the Falcons. His son, Clay Matthews III, got the family a ring as a member of the Packers team that won Super Bowl XLV.
4. Trey Junkin, 281
Another long snapper, Junkin did not have the same fortune that Muhlbach had of spending his entire career in one place. Instead, Junkin played for seven different franchises across 20 years from 1983 to 2002: the Bills, Washington, Raiders (two stints), Seahawks, Cardinals, Cowboys and Giants.
3. Phil Dawson, 305
Dawson stuck it out for 21 years in the NFL, mostly with the Browns from 1999 to 2012. He was a two-time second-team All-Pro selection, and made it to the NFC championship game in ’14 with the 49ers the year after they lost Super Bowl XLVII to the Ravens.
2. Jason Hanson, 327
Hanson was nothing if not loyal during his 21-year NFL career, spending his entire time with the Lions. He was a second-team All-Pro selection in 1997 and made two Pro Bowls, and made six postseason appearances with no victories.
1. Gary Anderson, 353
Anderson’s 23-year career landed him on two of the NFL’s All-Decade Teams for the 1980s and ’90s, but never saw him appear in the Super Bowl. He spent over half that time with the Steelers from ’82 to ’94—a run that began three years after Pittsburgh won Super Bowl XIV and ended a year before the franchise’s appearance in Super Bowl XXX, proving that football, like life, is all about timing.