Some guys lead their teams to Super Bowl victories and become household names—Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, or Terry Bradshaw. Others have escaped the spotlight.
Williams was a veteran, journeyman quarterback for years before he ever won a Super Bowl. He played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1978 to 1982 (at an almost league minimum $120,000 salary), and jumped to the newly formed USFL for the 1984 season. After that league folded, he returned to the NFL, and was signed by the Washington Redskins—where his Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Joe Gibbs had become head coach. In Super Bowl XXII in 1988, the Redskins routed the favorite Denver Broncos (led by John Elway) 42 to 10. Williams became the first quarterback to ever throw for four touchdowns in one quarter, and the first African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl. Williams was 33 at the time, and nearing the end of his career. He retired in 1989, and became a coach at the U.S. Naval Academy, in the NFL’s European league, and at Morehouse College and Grambling State University. He currently works in the Washington Redskins’ front office.
Rypien was drafted by Washington in 1986, but injuries kept him off the field full-time until 1989. Two years later, he had a career season, throwing for 3,564 yards and 28 touchdowns, enough to get his team into the Super Bowl. In that game, he threw for two touchdowns and beat the Buffalo Bills 37 to 24. He was the game’s MVP, and as a native of Calgary, the first Canadian-born NFL player to do so. The Redskins then signed Rypien to a three-year, $9 million contract extension, despite the fact that he was over 30 and was still fighting injuries. He threw only 13 touchdowns that year, and four in the next. The Redskins released him, and he played backup for five other teams before retiring in 2001. Rypien dabbled in other sports, as a NASCAR owner and on the celebrity golf tournament circuit.
Halfway through the 2000 season, the Baltimore Ravens were 5-3, and coach Brian Billick gave the quarterback job to backup Trent Dilfer, who led the team on a 7-1 run, and ultimately the team’s first Super Bowl berth, where they beat the New York Giants 34 to 7. Dilfer threw a 38-yard touchdown pass early in the first quarter. (He ultimately threw for 153 yards and no interceptions.) That Super Bowl would be Dilfer’s shining moment (although he certainly picked the right time to shine). A few months after the Super Bowl, the Ravens traded Dilfer to the Seahawks, where he served as a backup for four seasons. After stints in Cleveland and San Francisco, Dilfer quietly retired in 2008.
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