Best Players to Never Make a Pro Bowl
These men performed on Sundays, but they were never seen as good enough to play in the league's All-Star showcase. I came up with the top 10 NFL stars who never made it to a Pro Bowl.
10. Ryan Longwell
He might be one of the more unappreciated kickers in history.
After going undrafted and being cut by San Francisco, Ryan Longwell signed with Green Bay in 1997. In seven seasons with the Packers, he passed Hall of Famer Don Hutson as Green Bay's all-time leading scorer. After signing with Minnesota in 2006, Longwell accounted for all 16 points in the Vikings Week 2 win over Carolina with three field goals and a touchdown pass. He spent one final season with Seattle before retiring in 2013. In his 16 seasons, he made 83% of his field goal attempts and scored 1,687 points.
Longwell has the unusual NFL record for most career points by a player who never made a Pro Bowl. He played on some successful teams and should have made a Pro Bowl or two in his long career.
9. Jim Plunkett
His career resurgence is the stuff of a Hollywood movie.
The first overall pick in 1971 by the Patriots, Jim Plunkett was named the NFL Rookie of the Year. Things began to unravel for him and he was soon shipped off to San Francisco where things only got worse. Plunkett signed with Oakland in 1978 as a backup. In 1980, starter Dan Pastorini broke his leg and Plunkett led the Raiders to nine wins and a playoff berth. In Super Bowl XV, he threw for 261 yards and three touchdowns and was named the game's MVP. After going back to his backup role, he became the starter again in 1983 after starter Marc Wilson broke his shoulder. Plunkett again led the Raiders to another Super Bowl victory in an upset over Washington. He retired in 1987 as a two-time Super Bowl champion, Super Bowl XV MVP, and the 1980 NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
Everything pre-Raiders tenure for Plunkett is very forgettable, but he should have been a Pro Bowler in 1980 for getting Oakland into the Super Bowl.
8. Joey Galloway
He was as fast as any receiver during his career.
A first-round pick in 1995 by Seattle, Joey Galloway made an immediate impact for the Seahawks, setting franchise season records for a rookie with 67 receptions, 1,067 receiving yards and three 100-yard games. He also had success as a punt returner, returning 36 punts for 360 yards and a touchdown. Between 1997-1998, he had consecutive 1,000 yards receiving and double digit touchdown seasons. After four unsuccessful years in Dallas, he was traded to Tampa Bay in 2004. By 2005, he racked up three straight 1,000 yard receiving seasons. He retired after 2010 with 701 receptions for 10,950 yards and 77 touchdowns with five punt return touchdowns.
Galloway had five 1,000-yard receiving seasons and was an elite punt return man early in his career. It's crazy to me he never made one Pro Bowl trip in his 16 seasons.
7. Wayne Chrebet
"Mr. Third Down" was a fan favorite for the Jets franchise.
Chrebet worked his way up from 11th on the depth chart as an undrafted rookie, to making the team and become one of the greatest possession receivers in history. In fact Chrebet had more catches in his first two seasons than any receiver in league history at that point. That's impressive enough when you considered the fact that the Jets were coached by Rich Kotite in that time. Unlike former teammate Keyshawn Johnson, he let his play do the talking. And when Johnson left for Tampa Bay, Chrebet caught the winning touchdown against the Bucs. 379 of his 580 catches were third-down conversions. He retired as the team's second leading receiver and third leading receiver for undrafted wideouts.
He may not have been named an All-Pro or a Pro Bowler, but his legacy lives on in New York.
6. Jon Kolb
He was just as strong as his Hall of Fame teammate.
A third-round pick in 1969 by Pittsburgh, Jon Kolb did not start in any game during his first two years but became the starting left tackle in 1971. During his playing days, he was widely regarded as one of the strongest men in the NFL and played like it, protecting Terry Bradshaw's blind side from his left offensive tackle position on pass plays and opening holes for running backs Franco Harris, Rocky Bleier, and Frenchy Fuqua. Like many of the Steeler players of the 1970s, Kolb had his own cadre of fans, known as "Kolb's Kowboys." He retired after 1981, as a four-time Super Bowl champion and a 1979 All-Pro.
Mike Webster may have popularized weightlifting in the NFL, but Kolb took it to another level as one of the strongest men in the world. It's surprising he never made a Pro Bowl in his 13 seasons.
5. Jethro Pugh
He gets lost because he played alongside two Hall of Famers.
An 11th-round pick by Dallas in 1965, Jethro Pugh began his career at defensive end before being moved to defensive tackle in 1966. Even though he was a physical player against the run, his athleticism enabled him to become an excellent pass rusher for a defensive tackle. His 14 seasons are the second most in team history. He retired in 1979 as a four-time All-Pro and two-time Super Bowl champion while posting an unofficial 95.5 sacks, 14 fumble recoveries, two safeties, and an interception.
Pugh was often overshadowed by two generations of Pro Bowlers and Hall of Famers. Playing alongside Bob Lilly, George Andrie, Larry Cole, Randy White, Harvey Martin, and Ed "Too Tall" Jones, he was always a team-first player and even postponed an appendectomy until after the 1971 season was over.
4. Amani Toomer
He quietly had one of the most productive careers in Giants history.
A second-round pick in 1996 by the Giants, Amani Toomer was primarily used as a return specialist in his first few seasons. In 1999, he became the starting wide receiver and broke the team record for receptions in a season with 79. From 1999-2003, he posted five consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons. In 2007, he helped New York upset New England in Super Bowl XLII, ending the Patriots perfect season. He retired in 2009 as the Giants all-time leading receiver with 668 receptions for 9,497 yards and 54 touchdowns.
Toomer wasn't the typical diva receiver and didn't draw attention to himself. He did his job and was productive doing it.
3. Ken Riley
He's one of the most underrated cornerbacks in league history.
A sixth-round pick in 1969, Ken Riley switched from quarterback to cornerback and he immediately made an impact. In his rookie year, he recorded four interceptions and 66 return yards. He also recovered two fumbles, added another 334 yards on 14 kickoff returns, and even caught two passes for 15 yards on offense. For the rest of his career, Riley established himself as one of the top defensive backs in Professional Football, recording three or more interceptions in all but three of his 15 seasons. In his 15 pro football seasons, Riley recorded a total of 65 interceptions, 596 return yards, five touchdowns, 18 fumble recoveries, 96 fumble return yards, 334 kickoff return yards, and 15 receiving yards. His interceptions, interception return yards, and interceptions returned for touchdowns are all Bengals records. Riley retired after the 1983 season as a four time All-Pro.
He doesn't get recognized as a Pro Bowler or Hall of Famer because there isn't a standout moment from his career, but to not be voted to a single Pro Bowl despite his stats is insulting.
2. Fuzzy Thurston
He was just as important to the Packers o-line as their three other Hall of Fame linemen.
A fifth-round pick in 1958 by the Colts, Frederick "Fuzzy" Thurston helped Baltimore win the NFL Championship in the "Greatest Game Ever Played." He joined the Packers in 1959 and was a key component in Green Bay's power sweep offense. In nine seasons in Green Bay, he played on six NFL Championship teams, won the first two Super Bowls and was a five-time All-Pro.
Thurston played with three Hall of Fame linemen in Forrest Gregg, Jerry Kramer, and Jim Ringo. For him not to be recognized as a Pro Bowler as well is an injustice.
1. Marques Colston
I still don't know how he was overlooked on the Pro Bowl roster.
A seventh-round pick in 2006 by New Orleans, Marques Colston became an opening day starter and a favorite target of Drew Brees. He finished second in the voting for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. The following year he broke the New Orleans record for receptions in a season with 98 and tied Joe Horn's franchise record with 11 touchdowns. By 2009, he helped the Saints win their first Super Bowl in franchise history. He was released after the 2015 as the Saints all-time leading receiver with 711 receptions, 9,759 yards, and 72 touchdowns.
Colston had six 1,000-yard receiving seasons, two double digit touchdown seasons, and held every major team receiving record at the time of his release. For him to never make a Pro Bowl or All-Pro team is just ridiculous.
Michael on May 12, 2020:
Here's another one worthy of mention:
Don Warren, long time tight end for the Redskins.