Barry Sanders, Deacon Jones, Dick Butkus and LaDainian Tomlinson never played in the Super Bowl.
Being a future Hall of Famer does not guarantee a trip to the Super Bowl. In fact, many of the game’s greatest players never took the field with the Vince Lombardi Trophy on the line. This year, Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed will finally end his Super Sunday drought against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII. But these all-time greats were not so lucky.
Earl Campbell was a five-time Pro Bowler, led the NFL in rushing his first three seasons and is the only player named Campbell to make it into the NFL Hall of Fame. This compilation of Longhorns highlights is equally impressive.
Marshall Faulk was as dynamic a force in the backfield as any back in history. He began as the 1994 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Faulk went to seven Pro Bowls, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011, is fourth all-time in league history in yards from scrimmage and was the driving force behind the 1999 Super Bowl championship. His 767 catches rank 25th all-time in league history.
Sayers needed only seven seasons to prove that he was a Hall of Famer. "The Kansas Comet" reached four Pro Bowls and saw his remarkable career cut short by knee injuries. He set NFL records for touchdowns by a rookie (22) and highest career kickoff return average (30.6).
It is hard to argue with the production of the former Gator great. He is the NFL's all-time leading rusher and holds the NFL record for rushing attempts and rushing touchdowns. Smith earned eight Pro Bowls, won three Super Bowls and led the league in rushing four times.
Dickerson led the NFL in rushing four times, went to six Pro Bowls, was the 1983 Offensive Rookie of the Year, is a member of the illustrious 2,000-yard club and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999. If you need more Pony Express, here is ED's final high school football game. One word: Wow.
Longevity was the name of the game for Allen. He played until he was 37 years old and left the NFL with the most rushing touchdowns in history (123). Of course, his legendary "Running with the night" - aka 17 Bob Trey O - in the Super Bowl XVIII win over Washington will never be forgotten.
"All-Day" Peterson is the most physically gifted running back to enter the NFL since Herschel Walker or Bo Jackson. And the numbers tell that out. He was the Rookie of the Year in 2007, led the NFL in rushing in 2008 and has never rushed for fewer than 1,298 yards or 10 TD in a season. If Peterson can maintain his current pace - an NFL all-time fourth-best 94.7 yards per game - he will undoubtedly land in Canton, Ohio.
Post-career fall from grace aside, few backs have ever run the football like Simpson. The six-time Pro Bowler was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985 and is a member of the rarified 2,000-yard club. He led the NFL in rushing four times.
"Sweetness" was a nine-time Pro Bowler and was elected into the Hall fo Fame in 1993. He led the NFL in carries four straight seasons (1976-1979) and topped 300 attempts 10 times in 11 year span - something that would be unheard-of in the modern era of football. He retired as the NFL's all-time leading rusher and touched the ball 373 times during the 18-1 1985 Super Bowl Championship season.
The first of a generation, Jim Brown reset the standard for athletic ability at the running back position. His 6-2, 232-pound frame was unstoppable as he led the NFL in rushing in eight of his nine seasons. He left the NFL early to pursue his acting career but left as the single-season and career rushing leader as well as the league's all-time leader in rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns. His career average of 104.3 yards per game is still the NFL benchmark.
L.T. will go down as arguably the greatest running back to ever play the game when he finally hangs-up the cleats. He holds the NFL single-season TD record with 31 and he trails only Jerry Rice (208) and Emmitt Smith (175) in total career touchdowns. He is currently fourth all-time in touches (3,752), sixth all-time in rushing, fifth all-time in yards from scrimmage and will be third all-time in receptions by a running back when he passes Keith Byers' 610 (in his next game most likely).
Barry Sanders will go down as the most elusive, most difficult player to tackle in the history of the sport. He was the 1989 Rookie of the Year and the 1997 MVP. He went 10 Pro Bowls in 11 NFL seasons and never rushed for fewer than 1,115 yards. Had he not retired early, he would have likely have become the NFL's all-time leading rusher. His 2,053-yard 1997 season is third-best all-time and he led the league in rushing four times - all while playing for a team capable of winning only one playoff game over 11 years (1-5). His 99.8 yards per game rushing is No. 2 to only Jim Brown.