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Top five NFL players to never play in a playoff game

The definition of a wasted career. Player that gets drafted to a bad team and either stays to be a fan favorite or leaves but to no luck. Every player dreams of winning the Super Bowl but some don’t even make the playoffs in their career and are Hall of Fame caliber players. Making this list was one of the hardest I’ve ever made, I had to visit Pro Football Reference nearly every time to confirm that these players indeed never made the playoffs. These players are proof that football is a team game and unlike the NBA, one great draft pick can’t put a team over the top. With that in mind, let's dive into the list!!

Honorable Mentions:

Brandon Marshall- It’s easy to forget that Marshall never made the playoffs in his career as he was on multiple teams that finished around .500 yet failed to make the playoffs. It’s a shame since Brandon Marshall was one of most dominant receivers in the NFL for a few years and a boardline Hall of Famer.

Nnamdi Asumga- Spent most of his career with the Oakland Raiders, a team constantly in the cellar. While he was there, he was another Revis Island, quarterbacks didn’t throw in his direction.

Active Players:

Sheldon Richardson- A forgotten name in recent years but has been one of the best defensive lineman since entering the NFL in 2013.

Mike Evans/Levonte David- Both have been on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who haven’t made the playoffs in 12 seasons and counting. With Tom Brady joining the Bucs, it’s likely both these potential Hall of Famers make the playoffs.

5. Archie Manning- Archie Manning spent his career with the expansion franchise, sad sack New Orleans Saints. Manning didn’t have great stats in his career and failed to make the Hall of Fame but he spent 13 seasons on teams where there was nobody to help him out, no receivers, no protection, no defense, nothing. On a positive note, Archie had three sons that were good at playing quarterback and two of them made it to the playoffs for him (if you want to count that).

4. Gerald McCoy- One of the best defensive lineman from the past decade. In his peak, McCoy was an unblockable force that set the tone for the Buccaneers defense and has a clear case to make the Hall of Fame when he retires. McCoy was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2010 and for years was one of the best players on one of the worst teams. Prior to last season the Buccaneers released McCoy to create cap space, after a year with the Carolina Panthers McCoy failed to make the playoffs once again. McCoy signed this off-season with the Cowboys and it might be his best chance to make the playoffs before his career is over.

3. Gale Sayers- In 1965, Gale Sayers had one of the greatest rookie seasons of all time, with 1374 scrimmage yards, 898 kick and punt return yards (giving him 2,272 all purpose yards) and 22 touchdowns. After that it was all downhill for Sayers, the triple threat battled injuries through the rest of his career and eventually had his career cut short to injury. Despite the shortened career, Gale Sayers still managed to produce a Hall of Fame career and is known as one of the best scoring threats in the history of the game (think of Tyreek Hill but with Saquon Barkley’s running game). Sayers spent his entire seven year career with the Chicago Bears and unfortunate for Sayers, the Bears were one of the bottom-feeders in the NFL at the time and failed to make the playoffs during Gale’s career.

2. Dick Butkus- Like Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus was drafted in the same year as Sayers by a Bears team that was going nowhere in the NFL at the time. Butkus is regarded as one of the best, if not the best middle linebacker in NFL history. In his nine seasons, Butkus made the Pro Bowl every year of his career except his final one and made the All-Pro team five times. It adds to the pain that the Bears drafted both him and Sayers with back to back picks in the 1965 draft, both were Hall of Famers and both never made the playoffs, both were wasted careers.

1. Joe Thomas- The definition of a wasted career. Joe Thomas was drafted in 2007, for ten seasons Thomas never missed a game, never missed a snap until week seven of 2017 when he suffered a season-ending injury. Thomas also made the Pro Bowl for ten of his 11 seasons in the NFL (the only year he didn’t make the Pro Bowl was his final year when he had the season-ending injury) and had six All-Pro seasons. Thomas is destined for Canton and will be looked back at as one of the best left tackles in NFL history, who chose to be a fan favorite and loyal to his team. That team was the Cleveland Browns, the factory of sadness that is regarded as the most snakebitten franchise in the NFL. A 10-6 record in his first season was not enough to make the playoffs and Thomas never saw a winning season after that. In his eleven seasons with the team, the team only won 48 games and finished last in their division nine of those seasons.


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