The most unlikely Super Bowl QBs

Baltimore’s Trent Dilfer may have been the least likely quarterback to win a Super Bowl.

Yeah right, back in September you figured Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick were going to be the starting quarterbacks in the Super Bowl. You and all the other experts.

The list of quarterbacks who have started a Super Bowl is a long and glorious one. Many of the game’s greatest QBs  have flourished under the bright lights of football’s ultimate game.

Bart Starr, MVP in the first two Super Bowls, kicks off the list. He joins a Hall of Fame Super Bowl QB lineup that includes such legends as Johnny Unitas, Roger Staubach. Bob Griese, Dan Marino, John Elway, Troy Aikman, and someday Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. Joe Montana was a three-time Super Bowl MVP; Terry Bradshaw, Tom Brady and Eli Manning have all won two.

And don’t forget Fran Tarkenton, who was the losing quarterback in three Super Bowls and Jim Kelly who topped that with four SB losses. Both are Hall of Famers.

But that list also has some surprises, including this year’s matchup. At least four quarterbacks defied common logic to win Super Bowls. Others got to the Super Bowl, but lost. They are the unlikeliest starting QBs in Super Bowl history.


Jeff Hostetler — A back-up for much of his career, Hostetler stepped into the breech when Phil Simms broke his foot near the end of the season — and piloted  the Giants to a dramatic 20-19 win over Buffalo in SB25.

Mark Rypien — The MVP of SB26, Rypien, right,  passed for 292 yards and two touchdowns as the Redskins beat Buffalo 37-24. Two years later he was banished to the bench, then to Cleveland. (Hey, try winning with the Browns).

Trent Dilfer — Dilfer played for five teams in a 13-year career and never threw more than 21 TDs in a season. In his one-year with Baltimore he beat the Giants in SB35 despite a pedestrian 12 for 25, 153-yard effort

Brad Johnson — A ninth round draft pick out of Florida State, Johnson did throw for 166 TDs in an otherwise mediocre career. Helped by three pick sixes by the Tampa Bay defense, he led the Bucs to their only SB victory in 2003.


Vince Ferragamo — He threw 30 TD passes and led the Los Angeles Rams to SB14  in 1980, where they lost to Pittsburgh 31-19.  Ferragamo had a decent game in what turned out to be the high point of his career.

David Woodley — Woodstock as he was affectionately known in South Florida. was 4-for-14 for a mere 97 yards in Miami’s 27-17 loss to the Redskins in SB17. Two years later Dan Marino arrived. End of story.

Stan Humphries — Perhaps the most unlikely starter in Super Bowl history, Humphries’ Chargers were victimized by the 49ers, 49-26, in SB29. Three years later he was out of the league.

Chris Chandler — Chandler had a long NFL career, but never came close to equalling his 1998 season when he threw 25 TD passes and took the Falcons to their only Super Bowl.

Rex Grossman — Only once in his career (in 2006 when he threw 23 as the Bears advanced to SB41) did Grossman throw more than 16 TD passes in a season. Oh yes, Chicago lost to the Colts.

Two-time loser

Craig Morton — In SB5 with the Cowboys, Morton, left, was 12-for-26 with three interceptions. In SB12 with Denver against his former team he was worse, 4-for-15 with four INTs. He finished his career with more picks (187) than TDs (183).

Dishonorable Mention

Joe Kapp — A CFL refugee who played four years in the NFL, Kapp was the QB when the Vikings lost to the Chiefs, 23-7, in SB4. Although he threw just 40 career TD passes, he had a record-tying seven in one game in 1969.

Jim McMahon — His Bears won SB20 over the Patriots, but the storyline was Chicago’s relentless defense. McMahon never threw more TDs than the 15 he tossed in 1985.

Tony Eason — He started SB20 for the Patriots against the Bears, but after failing to connect on any of his five passes he was relieved by Steve Grogan.

Jake Dolhomme — Delhomme passed for 323 yards and three TDs in SB38 as his Panthers lost to the Patriots. It was all uphill from there for Jake.

Neil O’Donnell — He threw three picks helping the Cowboys beat the Steelers in SB30. Then he made the mistake of leaving for the Jets and….oh well

5 Comments on “The most unlikely Super Bowl QBs”

  1. Wayne Dederick says:

    Sportslifer, What do you know about a new rail trail that appears to be heading in a southerly direction from Daddy O’s in Hopewell Jct. I believe it may be heading towards Putnam County but it is difficult to find info on this new trail. A waitress at Daddy O’s pointed it out to us in the late fall after we had biked there from Lloyd. Thanks for any info.

    • SportsLifer says:

      Hi Wayne. You may be referring to the Dutchess Rail Trail, which starts right near Daddy O’s and runs towards Poughkeepsie. There is still some work being done to complete the trail.

      • Wayne Dederick says:

        No that is not it. We often bike the Dutchess Rail Trail, with a bit of bush wacking, from Lloyd {Highland in Ulster County} to Daddy O’s where we have lunch. As I mentioned earlier the new trail heads south maybe southeast along the old line headed toward Putnam County. We were there in late fall and they were working on it. The line is, apparently, occasionally used by the railroad so they have installed a high fence between the rail line and the new trail. Also you could see they were connecting it to the Dutchess Trail. To be truthful I would not of noticed the construction but a waitress mentioned it. As we left I climbed up the rail bank and took a look. . I am currently on a warm beach but when I return north I will certainly check it out.

  2. JosephS says:

    That rail line is the Beacon line owned by the Metro-North. It connects the Metro-North’s Hudson line at Beacon to the MNRR Danbury branch in Connecticut.

    Not used for revenue service, but for moving equipment back and forth between the two branches. It came in handy after Hurricane Irene a couple years ago when the Danbury branch was washed out (cut off from the New Haven main line) and trains were otherwise stranded at Danbury. MNRR used the line to move their trains onto the Hudson line where they can run down to NYC.

    At the Beacon end of the line, I know they got a bike trail which ran next to the train tracks. It would be nice if they are going to do something similar along the line in Hopewell Junction. I haven’t heard anything official about them doing that though, since Dutchess County right now is focusing their efforts at building the two unfinished sections of the Dutchess Rail Trail between Overocker Road and Manchester Road, and the connector to the Walkway Over the Hudson.

    • Wayne Dederick says:

      If you happen to be near Daddy O’s in Hopewell Jct. climb up the rail bank in the back of the parking lot and take a look. I believe you will see the track is separated from a new road or trail by a high fence. If you follow that trail back to the Dutchess Trail you will see it actually connects to the Dutchess Trail but is separated by a locked gate. I read on an old web site that Metro North and the NYSDOT had this planned for a future project. Hopefully the future has arrived. I will be returning home in a couple of weeks and plan to bike down there to check it out.

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