For every great player who reaches the mountain top right away, there are so many icons who never get the chance. The 2017 NFL season has plenty.
Men who either have never played in a Super Bowl or came up painfully short of winning one despite years upon years of individual brilliance. Now these men face the inevitable final race of their careers. That race between getting the coveted ring and being forced to retire. Few ever come up on the winning side of that race, but it happens. Here are the five most notable names going into this year that may be about to make the run.
It’s strange. Seems like the older Davis gets, the better he gets. Unheard of for a linebacker as he comes off his second-straight Pro Bowl at 33-years old. Davis hasn’t had fewer than 100 tackles for five-straight seasons and is considered one of the great ambassadors of the game. A true role model for kids to look up to. He is most deserving of a ring, which made the loss in Super Bowl 50 a bitter pill to swallow. Luckily the Carolina Panthers still have a really good team. There is time to make it right, but it must be soon.
It’s amazing to think that the first four years of his pro football career were spent either out of the game or up in Canada. It wasn’t until 2009, fives seasons after being drafted that Cameron Wake played his first NFL snap. Now he’s a five-time Pro Bowler with 81.5 career sacks. Even at 35-years old he was one of the top pass rushers in football and finally got to take postseason play last season. Can the Miami Dolphins take it the rest of the way before time runs out? They seem dead set on making a run at it.
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It’s easy to forget that the “Inconvenient Truth” is still playing. Indeed it’s true. Gore has been an unbelievable Little Engine That Could. When most running backs fall off the map upon hitting 30, he’s laughed in the face of Father Time. The man delivered his ninth 1,000-yard season in 2016 at the ripe age of 33. He joined the Indianapolis Colts in hopes that teaming with Andrew Luck could snare him that championship he narrowly missed five years ago with the 49ers. Even so, there is only so much the body can take.
He may have a lot of people split on him as a personality, but Philip Rivers has steadily remained one of the 10 best quarterbacks in football for over a decade. He’s reached five Pro Bowls, holds major major Chargers passing record and helped his team to five playoff appearance. Yet he still hasn’t even managed to reach a Super Bowl. The closest he got was in 2007, losing in the AFC championship to the Patriots. He turns 36 this year. His gas tank is running low.
Arguably the greatest playoff performer at the wide receiving position in NFL history. Considering that puts him up against Jerry Rice, it’s saying a ton. Still, there’s no denying that Larry Fitzgerald is superhuman in clutch situations. The guy has done everything and more for the Arizona Cardinals his entire career with over 16,000 yards and 114 touchdowns. It just hasn’t been enough. He came so tantalizingly close in 2008 before the Steelers snatched it away in Super Bowl XLIII. Bruce Arians is doing everything in his power to send the soon-to-be 34-year old off right.