The best and worst Super Bowl guarantees in NFL history

Friday February 3rd, 2017

After a 38-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 17 that put the finishing touches on an abysmal 3-13 season, Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery guaranteed his team would win Super Bowl LII. 

The claim was bold at best and ludicrous at worst, and it got us thinking: we’ve heard this before. Players making Super Bowl guarantees is nothing new, whether the call is made before the season starts or just a few days before the big game. Below is a worst-to-first ranking of some notable Super Bowl guarantees throughout the years. The list enjoys the benefit of hindsight, but it takes into account the context of each guarantee and the manner it which it was made made.

10. Alshon Jefferey, 2017

Adding to the absurdity of Jeffrey’s guarantee for a 3-13 team is the distinct possibility that he won’t even be a Bear next year. Having played this season under the franchise tag, Jeffrey will be a free agent if the Bears do not franchise him again. Perhaps he meant a more generic “we” and is actually predicting that the team he’s on next year will win the Super Bowl. He might even have a specific team in mind; the joke could very well be on us. 

Result: To be determined

9. Rex Ryan’s four: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2015

Ryan made three guarantees as Jets head coach and added another at his introductory press conference as Bills head coach. Ryan’s first couple guarantees with the Jets were sort of close to being backed up, but guaranteeing a Super Bowl four separate times really waters down the institution of the guarantee. Plus, the guy’s 0-for-4. If the recently fired Ryan ever gets another head coaching opportunity, he should probably lay off the guarantees. 

Result: Jets lost in AFC Championship Game in 2009 and 2010, Jets missed playoffs in 2011, Bills missed playoffs in 2015

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8. Tony Romo, 2015

During a speech in 2015 after winning the Nancy Lieberman Lifetime Achievement Award, Romo said, “It’s incredible and I really appreciate you, and we’re going to win a Super Bowl next season.” Romo’s optimism is understandable—the Cowboys were coming off a 12-4 season and might have advanced to the NFC Championship Game had Dez Bryant’s controversial non-catch counted. But Romo’s guarantee looked worse and worse as the season wore on, as the Cowboys languished to a 4-12 record in 2015. Little of that was due to Romo, though, as Cowboys went 3-1 in the four games he played that season.

Result: Cowboys went 4-12, missed playoffs

7. Terrance Knighton, 2014

After clinching the 2014 AFC West title, “Pot Roast” guaranteed his Broncos would go on to win the Super Bowl. “It doesn’t matter what happens,” he said. “At the end of the year, we’re hoisting that trophy.” It turns out that it does indeed matter what happens, as the Broncos lost to the Colts 24-13 in Denver. The Patriots then beat the Colts 45-7 in the AFC title game so yeah, the Broncos weren’t at all close to hoisting the trophy. 

Result: Broncos lost in AFC Divisional Round

6. Bruce Arians, 2015

After accepting the Coach of the Year Award for the 2014 season, Arians said that he expected to be playing in the Super Bowl the next year: “We can write it down today,” he said. Arians knew he had a good football team—the Cardinals went 11-5 in 2014—and sought to instill confidence in it, and that’s admirable. The Cardinals went 13-3 in 2015 to earn the No. 2 seed in the NFC, and they’d fall only a game short of fulfilling Arians’ prediction. That’s impressive, but his prediction lacked the delivery or sentimental value of the ones below. 

Result: Cardinals lost in NFC Championship Game

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5. Ryan Kalil, 2012

The Panthers center took out a full-page ad in the Charlotte Observer in 2012 that read: “One-hundred percent, sterling silver victory. The Lombardi trophy. And it reads: CAROLINA PANTHERS SUPER BOWL XLVII CHAMPIONS!” The Panthers missed the playoffs that season, but you have to applaud the sheer production value of this guarantee, and the fact that Kalil was willing to spend money to put his call in writing.

Result: Panthers went 7-9, missed playoffs

4. Von Miller, 2013

Miller dedicated his 2013 season to his six-year-old cousin Jeremiah, who had recently awaken from a coma after a car accident. Before the season began, he tweeted “Denver Broncos will win the Super Bowl,” a prediction he said Jeremiah inspired. The Broncos did indeed reach the Super Bowl that season behind a record-shattering offense, but they were blown out 43–8 in the game by the Seahawks. The Broncos avenged that defeat in the Super Bowl in 2016, when Miller was named the game’s MVP. Note that Miller didn’t specify in his tweet which year the Broncos would win. Perhaps his prediction was correct?

Result: Broncos lost in Super Bowl

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3. Shannon Sharpe, 1999

A notorious trash talker who has continued to ply that craft on television, Sharpe went on a rant after his Broncos defeated the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Divisional Round in 1999. After the game, he reportedly asked Dolphins players, “How does it feel to have a Super Bowl in your house and you’re not invited?” and told Dolphins coach Jimmie Johnson to get his office ready for Broncos coach Mike Shanahan to use during Super Bowl week. Those are some genuinely creative barbs, and he backed it up. 

Result: Broncos won Super Bowl

2. Plaxico Burress, 2008

Burress’ Giants were about to face the 18-0 New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII when he predicted a 23-17 victory for New York. The Patriots were 12-point favorites and averaged 38.6 points per game during the regular season, prompting Tom Brady to respond to Burress by saying, “We’re only going to score 17 points?” But the Giants were able to pressure Brady and limit the Patriots to 14 points, and David Tyree’s spectacular catch set up the Giants’ winning touchdown—which was scored by Burress, naturally.

Result: Giants won Super Bowl 

1. Joe Namath, 1969

No surprise here. In one of the most famous moments in NFL history, Broadway Joe predicted three days before the game that his AFL champion Jets would defeat the NFL champion Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. “We’re going to win the Super Bowl,” he said. “I guarantee it.” The consensus at the time was that NFL teams were more talented than AFL sides, and the Colts were favored by 17 points. But the Jets pulled the upset, and Namath’s guarantee would go down in sports lore as the best in history. 

Result: Jets win Super Bowl

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