The NFL Players That Absolutely Deserve Super Bowl Rings

  • Andrew Luck

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    Andrew Luck

    Um, duh! Luck is the best young quarterback in the league and at 25 years old, he led the NFL in passing yards for most of the year before finishing with 4,761. The Colts are solid but even still they depend on their signal-caller to do just about everything offensively. Without him, this team wins five games.

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  • Devin Hester

    Why? Dude’s the greatest return man of all time that’s why. He also showed up to play in the biggest game of his career, returning the opening kickoff in Super Bowl XLI 92 yards for a touchdown. Right now, he’s stuck on an underachieving Falcons team, watching his prime — he’s now 32 — starting to slip away.

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  • Philip Rivers

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    Philip Rivers

    Rivers might be my favorite player in the league. He’s smart. He works hard. He’s a killer. He steps up his game once the weather gets colder. Too bad the Chargers are just never quite good enough, no matter what the QB does. His best season just so happened to see him matched up with the 18-0 Patriots for the right to go to the Super Bowl. Bad luck.

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  • Tony Romo

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    Tony Romo

    Sorry, I’m just going to say it: Romo has probably taken more criticism than perhaps any other player during the modern era, and there’s a lot of it that isn’t warranted either. But this season he responded convincingly by finishing with the top quarterback rating in the league, even better than Aaron Rodgers, as well as just nine interceptions while leading Dallas to 12 wins and a division title. Then in his first playoff game against Detroit this year, he was nearly perfect, leading the Boys on a miraculous come-from-behind win.

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  • Darrelle Revis

    One of my favorite players in the NFL — have you seen his sneaker collection? — Revis is no longer the knockout best cornerback in the world but he’s still good enough to have made back-to-back Pro Bowls. This past season, he still had quarterbacks like Baltimore’s Joe Flacco thinking twice before passing to his side. That’s the ultimate definition of a shutdown corner. To still be doing that at nearly 30 is impressive.

    I mean, this is the whole reason why he came to New England in the first place, right?

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  • Patrick Willis

    The 49ers linebacker deserves a Super Bowl ring as much as anyone at this point. This year he missed San Francisco’s collapse down the stretch because he had been placed on season-ending IR with a toe injury, but over the years Willis has been a model of consistency at middle linebacker. He is a seven-time Pro Bowler and a five First Team All-Pro, who also came thisclose to winning a Super Bowl in 2012. That year, the Niners lost the big game to the Ravens (and Willis’ idol Ray Lewis) by three.

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    Larry Fitzgerald

    An eight-time Pro Bowler, Fitzgerald might be the best receiver of this generation. He also has 80 receiving touchdowns in his career and is closing in on 1,000 receptions. But even as he is renowned for his consistency and being a reliable option for a decade in Arizona, Fitzgerald’s greatest accomplishment came during the 2008 NFL Playoffs. That year, the 6-3 receiver caught a total of seven touchdowns during four postseason games, including three in the AFC Championship and another two during the Super Bowl against Pittsburgh. If not for Santonio Holmes, Larry might’ve won both a ring and an MVP because of his go-ahead touchdown in the closing minutes.

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  • Calvin Johnson

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    Calvin Johnson

    No offensive player at the skill positions is more feared or respected, so it’s a bummer that CJ has been hamstrung in Detroit with players who either can’t seem to realize their potential, like Matthew Stafford and Reggie Bush, or players who can’t seem to corral their emotions, likeĀ Ndamukong Suh.

    Johnson had a down year this season and still put up almost 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns. That’s a career year for just about anyone else. At 29 years old, however, you have to wonder whether the Lions will ever get it together. They have the talent. It just doesn’t seem like they have much else.

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  • Luke Kuelchy

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    Luke Kuechly

    Just as Luck is probably the NFL’s top young offensive weapon, you could make the argument that Carolina’s 23-year-old middle linebacker is next level on the other side of the ball. In three years in the NFL, he’s had around 100 tackles every year, and this season finished fourth in combined tackles with 156.

    The Panthers are on the rise, especially after sneaking into the playoffs this year and then smoking Arizona in the first round. Kuechly is at the head of that movement.

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  • Andre Johnson

    Rather than becoming the next Terrell Owens or Steve Smith or Chad Johnson, Andre Johnson has kept quiet throughout his career, playing the role of a good soldier on a floundering Texans organization. Johnson will be 34 this summer, having played his entire career in Houston and yet, the team has made the playoffs just twice during his run there.

    With over 1,000 career catches and 13,597 yards to his name, Johnson is going to be one of the best receivers that the next generations just completely forgets about simply because of his quiet nature. If he had just one big moment in the biggest game, his star would go from underrated to appreciated.

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  • Andrew Luck
  • Devin Hester
  • Philip Rivers
  • Tony Romo
  • Darrelle Revis
  • Patrick Willis
  • Calvin Johnson
  • Luke Kuelchy

Unlike basketball, where one great player can make all of the difference between 30 wins and a seat in the lottery and a trip to the NBA Finals, football is a total team sport. There are 11 players on the field at all times. You have specialists galore, from kickers and punters and special teams players, to inside linebackers to offensive guards to receivers. You have coordinators and position coaches. You have playbooks and schemes. You have everything. Basically, unless you’re a quarterback, your impact will always be limited because there are just too many variables for one man to overcome.

Despite that reality, players are still often solely judged on rings. This is true for quarterbacks more than anyone else — which is fair in a way — but even the skill position players must win to affirm their status. Take Barry Sanders for example. He was perennially held back by awful teams in Detroit and yet he consistently proved he was BY FAR the best running back in the NFL. Yet he might never have the cultural impact — at large — that someone like Emmitt Smith had. Smith played for America’s team. And he won. Multiple times.

With the Super Bowl right around the corner, this question is more relevant than ever. Which players in the NFL deserve rings? Deserve is a strong word to use, but when you’re out there doing your thing — whether it’s for five years, 10, or worse, 15 — and not getting any backup, you deserve some sympathy. So as you get ready for this year’s biggest game between New England and Seattle, make sure you give these cats a little respect. Here are The NFL Players That Absolutely Deserve Super Bowl Rings.

Follow Sean on Twitter at @seanesweeney

image via Sarah Glenn/Getty Images