There have been many quarterbacks that outperformed their peers in the National Football League but did not attain the pinnacle of winning a Super Bowl championship. This list gets a bit lighter when one pulls out the quarterbacks that have been inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame yet have not gained a NFL title. Of note, the focus will forever be placed upon Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins, Jim Kelly of the Buffalo Bills, Warren Moon namely of the Houston Oilers and Minnesota Vikings, and Dan Fouts of the San Diego Chargers.
Dan Marino entered the NFL in 1983 after receiving All-American honors at the University of Pittsburgh. Although the last quarterback taken in the quarterback heavy 1983 draft, Marino led the Dolphins to a playoff spot in 10 of his 17 seasons. Most remember Marino for the loss the Dolphins suffered in Super Bowl XIX since it was the only instance in which Marino’s Dolphins played in the NFL championship. Although Marino and Dolphins were frequent participants in the playoffs, his career record was less than stellar at eight wins and 10 losses. His Hall of Fame induction was a no brainer as Marino was selected to the Pro Bowl on nine instances and was named the starter seven times. Marino stands fifth all time in career wins with 147 behind Favre, Manning, Brady, and Elway.
Jim Kelly was also part of the 1983 draft but chose instead to play in the United States Football League (USFL) for the Houston Gamblers. Kelly enjoyed two successful seasons prior to the disbandment of the league including a Most Valuable Player award, winning 23 of 36 games while throwing 83 touchdowns and nearly 10 thousand yards. In 1986, Kelly joined the Bills and led them to four trips to the Super Bowl and six divisional championships. Kelly participated in 11 seasons for Buffalo and successfully made the playoffs in eight. Although he did not win a Super Bowl, he was a part of a team that participated in three straight. His record with the Bills was 101 wins and 59 losses that included over 35,000 yards passing, 237 touchdown passes, and a QB rating of 84.4.
Warren Moon did not initially get the opportunity to play in the National Football League so he improved upon his skills in the Canadian Football League for six years on the Edmonton Eskimos where his team’s won five Grey Cups. In the ten post season games he participated in, Moon’s Eskimos won nine of them while he passed for 144 touchdowns and for more than 21,000 yards. Further success followed Moon to Houston and Minnesota where he was named to the Pro Bowl on nine of his 13 seasons. All in, Moon threw for over 49,000 yards while starting for the “run and shoot” Oilers and deep throwing Minnesota Vikings. Moon played in nine Pro Bowls and in 1991, he joined Dan Fouts and Dan Marino as the only quarterbacks to throw for over 4,000 yards in back to back seasons.
Dan Fouts played in San Diego for his entire 15 year career. Although he was drafted in the third round of the draft, Fouts was a six time Pro-Bowl selection. This includes breaking the National Football League pass yardage record for three consecutive seasons from 1979 to 1981. Although he was not able to win in two American Football Championships to advance into the Super Bowl, Fouts passed for over 43,000 yards and threw 254 touchdown passes. Although none of the four received a Super Bowl ring, one can argue that these four quarterbacks rank in the top 10 of all time.