Player with most career NFL games but no Super Bowl appearances

These players all had long, successful careers but never made it into the big game.

This year’s Super Bowl matchup features a Chiefs team that has appeared in three of the last four major games, while the Eagles are back for the first time in five seasons. That means there won’t be a lack of Super Bowl experience in Glendale on February 12, even if it leans more towards a sideline.

But while these players will enjoy the experience of playing on the game’s biggest stage, not everyone is so lucky. Most players never make a Super Bowl, but some have the distinction of putting in the most time and working the field without receiving the reward of a single appearance. Here are the 10 players who have logged the most career games without ever playing in a single Super Bowl.

Data is sourced from Pro Football Reference and includes only regular season stats from Super Bowl-era players.

Most games were played without appearances in the Super Bowl

T-9 Don Muehlbach, 260

Muhlbach was a true specialist, serving as a long snapper for the Lions from 2004-20. All of that stability came at the expense of the fact that he’d spent his entire career at a Detroit franchise that had just three postseason appearances and no wins during Muhlbach’s tenure. Muhlbach made two Pro Bowl appearances during his playing days and was named to the franchise’s all-time team in 1919.

T-9 Nick Lowery, 260

Lowery’s career began in 1978 and ended in 1996, spending most of his time in Kansas City. As a two-time first-team All-Pro selector at kicker, he led the NFL in goals in 1990 and was inducted into the Chiefs’ Hall of Honor in 2009. The closest Lowery came to the Super Bowl was in 1993 in Kansas City, losing 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 eight-round selection from Arkansas State. He played for four different franchises: the Cardinals, Washington (two stints), 49ers and Lions. His appearance on this list is an asterisk: Brown was part of the Washington team that won Super Bowl XXVI, but he missed the entire season with an elbow injury.

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

7. Tony Gonzalez, 270

Gonzalez’s 12 years with the Chiefs, the preeminent tight end of his generation, never translated into a trip to the Super Bowl. In fact, Kansas City only made it to the postseason three times with Gonzalez on the team and never won 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 but never advanced to an NFC championship game. His 271 career games are the most in NFL history for a close finish.

5. Clay Matthews Jr., 278

Clay Jr., the second in a line of three generations of players named Clay Matthews to make it to the NFL, played for the Browns from 1978-1993. That’s all you need to know about his bleak Super Bowl chances. He spent his last three seasons with the Falcons. His son, Clay Matthews III, provided the family with a ring as a member of the Packers team that won Super Bowl XLV.

4.Trey Junkin, 281

Another long snapper, Junkin didn’t have Muhlbach’s fortune in spending his entire career in one place. Instead, Junkin played for seven different franchises for 20 years from 1983 to 2002: the Bills, Washington, Raiders (two stints), Seahawks, Cardinals, Cowboys and Giants.


Patrick Breen/The Republic

3.Phil Dawson, 305

Dawson lasted 21 years in the NFL, primarily 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 14 with the 49ers after winning Super Bowl XLVII the Ravens had lost.

2.Jason Hanson, 327

Fiercely loyal throughout his 21-year NFL career, Hanson spent his entire time with the Lions. He was a second-team All-Pro selection in 1997 and made two Pro Bowls and six postseason appearances without a win.

1.Gary Anderson, 353

Anderson’s 23-year career saw him on two of the NFL’s All-Decade teams in the 1980s and 1990s, but he never appeared in the Super Bowl. From 1982 to 1994, he spent more than half of that time with the Steelers — 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 the timing.

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