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For most NFL players, getting the opportunity to play in a Super Bowl is a dream come true and a high point for their entire career. Of course, there is always a winner and a loser, meaning one team always goes home disappointed, unsure if they’ll ever get another opportunity again.
Obviously, there is a lot to be said for just getting to the Super Bowl. But there are also consequences for getting there and losing - both financially and otherwise. We felt it was important to share exactly what it means for players and coaches to lose a Super Bowl.
Also, feel free to check out a similar breakdown of Super Bowl winners.
While playing in the Super Bowl is a great honor, players don’t do it for free. The collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the NFL and players lays out a bonus schedule for Super Bowl participants. Naturally, players on the winning team make more money than those on the losing team.
In Super Bowl LVII, each member of the Chiefs earned $157,000 after they beat the Eagles while Philadelphia’s players took home $82,000 each. For Super Bowl LVIII, the winner’s bonus is increasing to $164,000 while the bonus for losing players should increase as well up to $89,000 per player.
Players don’t even need to play in the game to get the bonus. Every active and inactive player on the roster and any player who appeared in at least eight games for a team but isn’t on the roster receives a Super Bowl bonus.
Among the many luxuries of winning a Super Bowl, players receive a ring to commemorate their accomplishments. However, players on the losing team in a Super Bowl don’t walk away empty-handed. They also receive a ring.
Don’t worry, it’s not a ring that says Super Bowl loser. Keep in mind that both teams in the Super Bowl won their conference championship. Winning either the AFC or NFC Championship Game is enough to earn a ring. Of course, Super Bowl winners get a conference championship ring as well, so they get two rings for winning the Super Bowl. Whether Super Bowl losers are eager to showcase their conference championship ring is another story.
There are 24 different franchises that have experienced a Super Bowl loss. Of the eight teams that have never lost a Super Bowl, four teams (Browns, Jaguars, Lions, and Texans) have never reached a Super Bowl. There are four other teams that have won all of their Super Bowl appearances. The Ravens and Buccaneers are 2-0 in Super Bowls while the Jets and Saints have both won their only Super Bowl appearances. Of the 24 teams with a Super Bowl loss, 18 franchises have multiple Super Bowl losses.
Ironically, some of the most successful NFL franchises also have the most losses in Super Bowl history. The Broncos and Patriots are tied for the most Super Bowl losses with five each. Keep in mind that’s in part because the Patriots have the most Super Bowl appearances with 11 while the Broncos are tied for the second-most appearances with eight.
The Bills and Vikings are close behind the Broncos and Patriots with four Super Bowl losses each. Unfortunately, the Bills and Vikings have only been to four Super Bowls each, losing each of them. The Bengals, Cowboys, Dolphins, Eagles, and Rams have all suffered three Super Bowl defeats with the Bengals being the only team of those five to never win a Super Bowl.
There are four coaches who have lost the Super Bowl a record four times. Those coaches are Don Shula, Bud Grand, Marv Levy, and Dan Reeves. Of those four coaches, Shula is the only coach who has also won a Super Bowl, doing so twice with the Dolphins.
Grant coached the Vikings in all four of their Super Bowl losses. Likewise, Levy coached the Bills when they lost the Super Bowl in four consecutive seasons. Reeves, meanwhile, coached the Broncos in three Super Bowl losses and then coached the Falcons in a Super Bowl that they ironically lost to the Broncos.
Legendary coaches Tom Landry and Bill Belichick both have three Super Bowl losses on their resume. In fairness, Landry won two Super Bowls while Belichick won six. Andy Reid and Mike Holmgren also have two Super Bowl losses each, creating a total of eight coaches with multiple Super Bowl losses, although five of the eight have at least one Super Bowl win on their resume.
No starting quarterback has lost the Super Bowl more times than Buffalo’s Jim Kelly. He led the Bills to the Super Bowl in four consecutive years, only to lose all four games. To date, he’s the only quarterback to lose the Super Bowl four times. Despite being a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, those four losses are a black mark on Kelly’s career.
There are three other quarterbacks who have lost three Super Bowls, and all are Hall of Famers or future Hall of Famers. Tom Brady, John Elway, and Fran Tarkenton have all been on the wrong side of a Super Bowl three times. Tarkenton, unfortunately, played in three Super Bowls and lost all three of them. Brady, of course, won seven Super Bowls despite losing three times. Elway lost three times but won the Super Bowl in each of his final two seasons in the league. He was also the GM of the Broncos when they won their third Super Bowl.
Super Bowl LVIII is scheduled for February 11, 2024, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. The game will be played between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs in a rematch of Super Bowl LIV, a game the Chiefs won 31-20.
The Chiefs are currently 3-2 in Super Bowls while the 49ers are 5-2. With a win in Super Bowl LVIII, San Francisco can tie the Patriots and Steelers for the most Super Bowl wins. However, the loser of Super Bowl LVIII will become the 10th franchise to lose at least three Super Bowls.
Kansas City coach Andy Reid will be leading a team in the Super Bowl for the fifth time, going 2-2 in his previous appearances, including 2-1 with the Chiefs. Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes is also 2-1 in Super Bowls. On the other side, Kyle Shanahan is coaching his second Super Bowl while Super Bowl LVIII will be the first for quarterback Brock Purdy.
The 49ers opened as slim one-point favorites over the Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII.
Bryan Zarpentine is a 2008 graduate of Syracuse University and has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 2010. During that time, he has contributed to countless sites while covering baseball, soccer, the NFL, college football, and college basketball.More info on Bryan Zarpentine
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