Continuing a three-part series on the best Quarterbacks never to win a Super Bowl, we come across two very mobile quarterbacks and one who wasn’t. Each of these QBs led their teams and represented their cities to the best of their abilities. One of the three is currently in the hall of fame, with another sure to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer when the time comes. Here are our #4 to #6 best quarterbacks to never win a Super Bowl.
6. Randall Cunningham
If Randall Cundall Cunningham would have fit right into today’s NFL. With his dual-threat abilities, it would be amazing to see what he could do in these modern offenses. The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Cunningham with the 37th pick in the 1985 NFL draft. 1988 was Cunningham’s breakout year, as he made it to his first of four Pro Bowls. The Philly QB threw for 3,808 yards and 24 touchdowns while rushing for 624 yards and six touchdowns. He was the reason that Michael Vick and Lamar Jackson could do what they could do. He was the original running quarterback.
Cunningham led the Eagles to three straight playoff appearances but lost all three games. The UNLV alum was an All-American punter in college and holds the Eagles record for the longest punt at 91-yards. Cunningham had 20 career punting attempts, with an average of 44.7 yards a punt.
Out for the rest of the season
In week one of the 1991 season, Cunningham tore his ACL and was out for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, this injury took away the speed and athleticism that NFL fans came to recognize. In 1996 Cunningham announced his retirement but was out of the league for a year before signing with the Minnesota Vikings, where he would have the greatest season of his career.
Aided by hall of fame receivers Cris Carter and Randy Moss, Cunningham threw for a career-best 3,704 yards with 34 touchdowns to ten interceptions in 1998. The Vikings finished the regular season 15-1 and were favorites in the NFL sportsbook to make it to the Super Bowl. But they fell short in the NFC Championship to the Atlanta Falcons. Cunningham and the Vikings could never recreate the success, and he ended up leaving the team in 2000 and announcing his retirement in 2002.
The big question in Cunningham’s career is, “what if he never got injured?”. It was clear that the knee injury changed him as a player, and except for 1998, Cunningham was unable to find the explosiveness he had in the late ’80s with the Eagles. Even if Cunningham were healthy throughout the ’90s, he would have had to deal with Troy Aikman and the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East and one of the greatest NFL dynasties of all time.
5. Philip Rivers
A recent addition to this list, as Rivers retired in 2021, he should have won at least one ring with the San Diego Chargers. Unfortunately for Chargers fans, they have two of the best quarterbacks of all time, and they are both on this “Never Won a Super Bowl” list. It might be controversial to put Rivers over Dan Fouts, but the length of Rivers’ career and the consistency of his level of play is what puts him over the top.
The 2006 Chargers are easily one of the best teams to not win a Super Bowl. They rostered eleven Pro Bowl players and had names like Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson, head coach Marty Schottenheimer and a young Rivers, who made the Pro Bowl in 2006 despite it being his first year as a starter. Rivers threw for 3,388 yards with 22 touchdowns with only nine interceptions.
AFC Divisional Card
That year, in the AFC Divisional Card round, the Chargers were facing the New England Patriots and were up eight points with eight minutes to play in the game. Bettors who were playing the Super Bowl live betting platforms were pounding the Chargers to win. Tom Brady was then intercepted by safety Marlon McCree but, while returning the pick, Marlon was stripped by Patriots receiver Troy Brown. New England recovered the ball, and the Patriots would eventually win the game 24-21.
If McCree gave himself up, the Chargers could have run out the clock to win the game. That Chargers team was good enough to win the Super Bowl but didn’t.
Rivers continued to have success with the Chargers, making it to the playoffs in the next three seasons, including a loss to the Patriots in the 2007 AFC Championship game. As Rivers reached his 30’s, the Chargers were not a bad team, but they were not a great team, hovering around .500 and unable to get that high first-round pick that can put them over the top.
Even during some tough years, Rivers continued to succeed, throwing for over 4,000 yards in all but one of his final 13 years in the NFL. In 2010, Rivers finished with 4,710 passing yards, marking the only time in his career that he led the NFL in the category made for quarterbacks.
Rivers had his chances to win a title early in his career, but unfortunately, it did not pan out. He was also in the same conference as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, so reaching the Super Bowl was tough enough, let alone winning one. Rivers was always second fiddle to these Hall of Fame QBs but tucked away in southern California, and Rivers was having a Hall of Fame-caliber career of his own. The Cal Ripken Jr. of the NFL, Rivers never missed a game, finishing his career with 252 consecutive starts.
4. Warren Moon
Warren Moon finished his NFL career with nearly 50,000 passing yards, which is insane because he spent six years in the Canadian Football League and did not throw a pass in the NFL until he was 28-years-old. Moon went unselected in the 1978 NFL draft and played for the Edmonton Eskimos, winning five Grey Cups, the CFL’s equivalent to a Super Bowl. Then in 1984, the Houston Oilers signed him, and he would spend ten years with the team.
The first few years in Houston were rough but, in 1988, Moon reached the first of his nine Pro Bowls. The 1990 season was the best of his career, leading the league in completions and attempts (362-584), passing yards (4,689), and touchdown passes (33). Miraculously, Moon was able to best his passing yards total by one yard in 1991 by throwing for 4,690, also a league-best.
Despite Moon’s on-field accomplishments, it never translated to team success. Moon’s Oilers never reached an AFC Championship game and suffered a brutal loss to the Buffalo Bills in the 1992 wild card round.
Houston got out to a 35-3 lead after Bills quarterback Frank Reich threw an interception early in the third quarter. Buffalo then scored five unanswered touchdowns to take the lead 38-35. The Oilers sent it to overtime after Moon led a last-second drive down the field for a field goal. However, the Bills kicked the overtime field goal to win and complete the largest comeback in NFL history. Moon finished the day with 371 passing yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions.
Pro Bowl seasons
Moon left Houston for the Minnesota Vikings and continued to have Pro Bowl seasons, but 1994 was the only time Moon made it to the playoffs in a Vikings uniform, losing to the Chicago Bears in the wild card round. At the age of 41, Moon was named to the Pro Bowl in 1997 as a Seattle Seahawk. He retired from the NFL at 44 after spending two years with the Kansas City Chiefs.
In 2006 Moon was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, becoming the first Black quarterback and the first undrafted quarterback to be enshrined. Although he never experienced NFL postseason success, Moon’s five consecutive Grey Cups are still a record. Maybe if Moon was drafted, he would have become more successful, but his time in the CFL allowed him to showcase his talents to NFL teams who clearly did not have an interest in him coming out of the University of Washington.
All three of these quarterbacks were excellent in their own way, and some came closer to the ultimate prize than others. As this list proves, no matter how great one player is, it takes an entire team to win a Super Bowl. But just because these players did not win a Super Bowl does not mean they are not all-time greats. The quarterback position is the toughest in sports, and these three men were some of the best to ever do it, even without a championship.