With the Super Bowl approaching, sportsnet.ca takes a look at five players who deserve their first Super Bowl ring.
Randy Moss, San Francisco 49ers, WR
Whether you believe he is the greatest wide receiver of all-time – as Randy Moss boldly declared at Media Day — the only thing missing from Moss’ resume is a Super Bowl ring. Moss has played an integral role on the two highest scoring offences in NFL history (1998 Vikings, 2007 Patriots), and had a chance to reach immortality with the latter.
After scoring an NFL-record 23 touchdowns with the Patriots, along with 1,493 yards in 2007, Moss would have been part of the second undefeated team, and first since the league adopted a sixteen-game regular season. Alas, Eli Manning and the New York Giants stunned New England and Moss’ first chance at a Super Bowl ring was ruined.
In spite of his penchant for controversy, Moss is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and winning a Super Bowl would be the final accolade left for him to achieve in his illustrious career. While Moss will likely play a minor role in this year’s game, he more than warrants a Super Bowl ring.
Ed Reed, Baltimore Ravens, FS
Often considered one of the –if not the greatest- safety of his generation, Ed Reed has been part of a perennially successful Baltimore Ravens team, yet has never made a Super Bowl appearance in his 11-year career.
Reed has recorded 61 interceptions, the 10th best total of all-time and the most by any active player. The 2004 Defensive Player of the Year is a threat to capitalize on any error made in the passing game. Reed has been often been compared to Troy Polamalu, and a Super Bowl victory would reinvigorate the debate as to who has been the better player.
Although Reed is finally reaching a state of decline, he has been an outstanding player throughout his career, and a Super Bowl ring would be the perfect reward for a decade of excellence with the Ravens.
Matt Birk, Baltimore Ravens, C
With due apologies to Ryan Fitzpatrick, the best player ever to come out of Harvard is looking to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy in his first Super Bowl appearance.
Birk, a six-time Pro Bowler has been as much of a force on the field as he is off of it, as evidenced by winning the Minnesota Vikings Man of the Year Award for six consecutive years(2002-07) and the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2011.
Like most offensive lineman, Birk has never received due credit for his body of work. Birk, like Moss was a rookie on the 1998 Minnesota Vikings team that set records for most points scored in a year, until the 2007 Patriots erased them from the record book. Birk will have his hands full with the 49ers front seven, and a Super Bowl victory would be well deserved.
CONNECTED IN NEW ORLEANS: PREVIEW SPECIAL — Tune in Thursday at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT on Sportsnet ONE as we look ahead to Super Bowl XLVII. Show highlights include:
– The Legacy of Ray Lewis: A closer look at how a double homicide charge almost derailed a Hall of Fame career, and whether or not the unanswered questions should tarnish his legacy.
– Sudden Superstar: The rise of Colin Kaepernick from backup to the next big thing.
– Homecoming: A Stephen Brunt Essay. An in-depth look at the return of the Super Bowl to New Orleans, and the unique history between the city and the big game. Featuring music by The Crescent City.
Justin Smith, San Francisco 49ers, DE
It’s baffling to hardcore football fans that Justin Smith stayed under the radar for most of his career. However, Smith has been named to the Pro Bowl in each of the last four seasons, and many believe that he is the critical piece to a dominant 49ers pass rush.
Smith is the living embodiment of a hard-nosed defensive end, displaying outstanding toughness throughout the playoffs by playing with torn triceps.
Moreover, Smith often occupies two blockers, allowing for elite pass rusher Aldon Smith to wreak havoc on the quarterback (Aldon’s franchise-record 19.5 sacks is a living testament to Justin’s dominance)
The University of Missouri product has been remarkably consistent throughout his career, and over the last three years has finally garnered the press he deserves. Now in his 12th season, Smith has a chance to finally bask in the grandest spotlight as a Super Bowl champion.
Terrell Suggs, Baltimore Ravens, OLB
The reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Suggs has been an outstanding pass rusher for the Ravens since his rookie season where he recorded a staggering 12 sacks, forced six fumbles and won Defensive Rookie of the Year.
In the off-season Suggs tore his Achilles tendon, causing many to believe the outside linebacker would miss the rest of the year. However, Suggs returned in Week 7 shocking doctors and fans alike. Suggs is known for his tenacious approach to the game, mirroring linebacker comrade Ray Lewis in this regard.
Suggs was drafted in 2003, three years after the Ravens defeated the New York Giants for their first Super Bowl. With 84.5 career sacks and 25 forced fumbles, Suggs is Baltimore’s all-time leader in both categories. As the team tries to win its first Super Bowl since 2000, Suggs is one of the most deserving players in the game to win his first ring.