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Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has won the Super Bowl and defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20. Stafford threw 283 yards and three touchdowns on 26-of-40 passes. It’s been a long time coming for the Rams quarterback, who spent years as one of the better signal callers in the league with the Detroit Lions, but who was unable to turn it into success after the season.
Stafford’s 13-year wait for a title is not the longest for a player of his caliber – in fact, his team-mate Andrew Whitworth has his first Super Bowl victory after 16 seasons – but it seemed for a while as if it had never been coming to happen to him. Now his legacy is secured and he is in excellent company – an elite athlete who was finally able to put his team over the top.
Here are some others who have had to wait over a decade for their trophy or medal.
One of the most decorated snowboarders of all time, Jacobelli won virtually every title the sport had to offer, and in her first Olympics in 2006 appeared to be ready to earn an early gold medal. A fall at the finish line, however, denied her that honor, and she contented herself with silver. Other crashes and bad luck left her without medals for the next three Olympics before she won Team USA’s first gold medal at the Beijing Games in 2022.
A triple-double MVP and one of the most terrifying goal scorers in NHL history, Ovechkin routinely led his Washington Capitals to the playoffs but was unable to get them over the hump. That all changed in 2018. Ovechkin scored 15 goals and 27 points in 24 games and met rival Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins for his first Stanley Cup title.
John Elway (15 seasons)
Elway reached the Super Bowl three times in its first seven seasons with the Denver Broncos, but all three games were significant losses. In his 37-year season, Elway finally broke through with a one-touchdown victory over the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII. He would make it back-to-back titles next season, his last.
Bourque is a legendary defender with the Boston Bruins and stretched from the late 1970s to the early 2000s. Although the team reached the playoffs almost every year during Bourque’s tenure, it reached only one Stanley Cup final and lost in a marathon series to the Edmonton Oilers. Bourque signed with the Colorado Avalanche near the end of his career and won the Stanley Cup in his second and final season with the team.
Roger Clemens (16 seasons)
Clemens won five Cy Young Awards and an MVP with the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays, but won only one postseason series with these teams early in his career. Things turned around when he joined the New York Yankees in 1999 – adding a pitcher of his caliber to the version the Bronx Bombers led to a World Series victory.
For a while, it looked like Mickelson could be the greatest golfer in history to never win a major as he kept winning second and third places. That all changed in 2004 when a birdie putt on the final hole of the Masters gave him his first major win. He has won another five majors since then.
Alex Rodriguez (16 seasons)
Alex Rodriguez dominated the American League for a decade as a member of the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers, so his move to the New York Yankees seemed to promise more championships. However, it took him until 2009 to finally get over the hump as he drove out all the postseason demons by smashing the ball all the way to a World Series victory.
Jennifer Capriati (11 years)
Capriati officially became a professional at the age of 13 in 1990 and was immediately a force on the field, reaching the semifinals of her first French Open. She took a break from competitive tennis in the mid-1990s, slowly returning to form and ended up winning her first Grand Slam title at the 2001 Australian Open.
A nine-time All-Star and Hall of Famer, “The Glove” spent most of his career with the Seattle SuperSonics. A stay with the Los Angeles Lakers gave him a shot at an NBA title, but his time with the Miami Heat was when he got his first and only one in 2006.
Lomas Brown (18 seasons)
A seven-time Pro Bowler and member of Detroit’s all-time team, Brown spent parts of 18 seasons with the Lions, Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That was with the Bucs in his final season when he won his Super Bowl in 2003.
Jerome Bettis (13 seasons)
“The Bus” had reached the playoffs five times in his career, but never the Super Bowl. In his penultimate season, his Pittsburgh Steelers lost the 2004-05 AFC Championship Game to the New England Patriots. Luckily for Bettis, he had one more season in him, and even though he didn’t start any games in 2005, he still helped lead the Steelers to a Super Bowl victory.