Super Bowl or bust! Ten men I want to see lifting the Lombardi Trophy

The World Wide Web is packed to the gills with various fascinations.

One can watch a man-child ride his BMX over the arch of a bridge, send materialists into a tizzy with a few keystrokes on r/wallstreetbets or tune into a puppy riding a chicken.

I offer none of these delights, but if you woke this morning thinking to yourself, I MUST FIND OUT WHO MOST DESERVES A SUPER BOWL WIN BASED ON THE OPINION OF A MID-TIER BLOGGER ON NFL.COM ... then I'm here to help.

Drenched in a reality where Tom Brady is making his 10th trip to the Super Bowl, hundreds of other players and coaches can't seem to crack the code. Some are stuck on junky rosters, others dashed by fate or the sands of time.

Hoping against hope, here are 10 humans I'd like to see win a Super Bowl before the comet lands and renders this entire exercise moot:

J.J. Watt
J.J. Watt
Houston Texans · DE

In return for their loyalty, Texans fans have watched a disastrous four-win season devolve into a super-shaky reboot in which their star quarterback is asking for a trade amid whispers that Watt -- the heart and soul of the organization -- has played his final down for Houston. Ownership can do as it pleases, but the 31-year-old Watt deserves a brighter fate than wandering through the wilderness with a franchise in search of itself. 


While the Texans are determined to keep Watson, the new regime isn't keen on handing Watt a long-term extension. With one year left on his deal at $17.5 million, a breakup feels imminent. 


When Watt apologized to Watson for "wasting one of your years," what I saw was the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year telling his employer: You wasted my season, too.


It's time for Watt to play out his career with a high-octane contender. New colors, new start -- and future Januarys packed with chaos-churning, highlight-reel plays en route to a Super Bowl title of his own. 

Deshaun Watson
Deshaun Watson
Houston Texans · QB

As noted, the Texans harbor zero desire to trade Watson. 


Still, they've cooked up a Chernobyl-ish mess. Can newly hired coach David Culley swoop in and save the day? Absolutely not, per everything we've heard from Deshaun's chatty camp. 


Watson's journey is the juiciest story around. We could be weeks away from this top-five quarterback landing with the New York Jets. Imagine the think-pieces around Deshaun tugging Gang Green to heights only Joe Namath led them a whopping 52 years ago.


Plenty of Texans fans have already clicked out of this bad-news fest, asking: "Why should Watson be allowed to up and leave? We've all had issues with a boss, minus $74.9 million guaranteed being deposited into a glowing bank account."


Fair point, but this isn't your workplace. Player empowerment is cresting in 2021, whether or not general managers (or culture coaches) approve. Watson feels burned. That didn't happen in a vacuum. Count me among those rooting for a new chapter that sees him lifting a Lombardi elsewhere.

Ryan Fitzpatrick
Ryan Fitzpatrick
Free agent · QB

Must I produce 5,000 words of hot air to convince you? Not if you're any fun.


A starting role evades him, but not cult-hero status. At 38, Fitzpatrick roams the field as a devil-may-care man of delights, comfortable in his own skin and full of fiery passion. It's unclear where he lands next as he heads to free agency after a year spent alternating appearances with Dolphins rookie Tua Tagovailoa, but my Spidey sense tells me the Football Gods aren't done with this charming warrior.

Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford
Los Angeles Rams · QB
Aaron Donald
Aaron Donald
Los Angeles Rams · DE
Andrew Whitworth
Andrew Whitworth
Los Angeles Rams · OT

Pity Jared Goff if you must. His exit from Los Angeles (which won't become official until the start of the new league year) was inglorious and swift, but $57 million in guaranteed earnings will soften the lonely hours.


If you're a Rams fan, you can't help but wonder what Stafford might accomplish with Sean McVay whispering sea poems in his ear come September. Detroit was a dead zone, but Stafford's excuses have vanished. He's now surrounded with weapons, a top-five defense and a head coach desperate for redemption.


Leading the Rams to glory would suggest a welcome trickle-down effect, too, with Donald furthering his legend and snow-bearded bookend Whitworth winning it all in his 40s.


The AMERICA'S GAME episode writes itself, with general manager Les Snead starring as the mad scientist praying this top-heavy roster clicks in a hurry. With $110 million tied to six players -- Stafford, Donald, Whitworth, Jalen Ramsey, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods -- the Rams are nothing short of a Super Bowl-or-bust freight train heading into 2021.

Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera walks on the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, in Landover, Md. The Rams defeated Washington 30-10. (Perry Knotts via AP)
Ron Rivera
Washington Football Team · HC

Yes, Rivera won one as a player with the '85 Bears, but I want him to get that COACH ring. He came close with the Panthers in 2015, carving out a 15-1 mark before Carolina was dismantled by the Broncos in Super Bowl 50. Today, only those with chalky black voids where a beating heart should be would root against Rivera climbing back to the mountaintop.

It won't happen instantly, with Washington lacking a franchise passer or jewel-encrusted offense. Winning games 17-9 with a smothering defense works until it doesn't in 2021. Riverboat Ron, though, is no stranger to epiphanies or overcoming obstacles -- and he gave the Bucs a run for their money with Taylor Heinicke flinging darts.

In an NFL jam-packed with shiny young faces at head coach, Rivera's the old-school leader who finds a way. "O Captain! My Captain! Rise up and hear the bells!"

Frank Gore
Frank Gore
Free agent · RB

Gore's days as a workhorse are finished in a league stripped of Adam Gase's beautiful mind. Still, it feels unjust to have this rugged thumper pulled from our midst minus a ring.


At his peak -- and long after -- Gore devastated defenders, dishing out punishment to cowed would-be tacklers while growing more furious as games crept along. One more trip around the sun with a contender please, before Gore rides off into the west.

L.P. LaDouceur
L.P. LaDouceur
Free agent · LS

It sounds like the name of a nefarious baddie atop a French crime ring. In reality, Ladouceur has started 253 straight games at long snapper for the Dallas Cowboys. His debut on October 2, 2005 -- a 19-13 loss to the Oakland Raiders -- featured Drew Bledsoe throwing passes to Keyshawn Johnson and Terry Glenn while an agitated Bill Parcells walked the sideline.


Turning 40 in March, Ladouceur is running out of time to become a household name among other things.

Larry Fitzgerald
Larry Fitzgerald
Free agent · WR

"It'll be a while before anybody knows."


That was coach Kliff Kingsbury's answer to whether Fitzgerald would return to Arizona in 2021.


The 38-year-old free agent-to-be has pondered retirement for years, but the Cardinals appear open to bringing him back. Yes, there's something special about Fitzgerald spending his final days with the team that drafted him third overall in 2004, but Tom Brady begs to differ. Upset the apple cart, Larry!


How about latch on with a Super Bowl favorite in August -- read: Green Bay or Kansas City ... or Tampa -- and pray for one last chapter dipped in miracles?

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter.

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