Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has won the Super Bowl, defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20. Stafford threw for 283 yards and 3 touchdowns on 26 of 40 passing. 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 was unable to translate that into postseason success.
Stafford’s 13-year wait for a title isn’t the longest ever for a player of his caliber — in fact, his teammate Andrew Whitworth has his first Super Bowl win after 16 seasons — but it did seem for a while like it was never going to happen for him. Now his legacy is secured, and he finds himself in an excellent company — an elite athlete who finally was able to put his team over the top.
Here are some others who had to wait over a decade for their trophy or medal.
One of the most decorated snowboarders of all time, Jacobellis won pretty much every title the sport had to offer, and in her first Olympics in 2006 seemed poised to earn an early gold medal. A fall at the finish line denied her that honor, however, and she settled for silver. Other crashes and poor luck left her without medals for the next three Olympics, before she won Team USA’s first gold medal at the 2022 Beijing Games.
A three-time MVP and one of the most terrifying 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 faced down rival Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins for his first Stanley Cup title.
John Elway (15 seasons)
Elway made the Super Bowl three times in his first seven seasons with the Denver Broncos, but all three games were substantial losses. In his age-37 season, Elway finally broke through with a one-touchdown win over the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII. He’d make it back-to-back titles the next season, his last.
A legendary defenseman with the Boston Bruins, Bourque’s career stretched from the late 1970s to the early 2000s. Though the team made the playoffs almost every year during Bourque’s tenure, it only made one Stanley Cup final, losing 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 only won one postseason series with either of those teams at the beginning of his career. Things turned around when he joined the New York Yankees in 1999 — adding a pitcher of his caliber to that version of the Bronx Bombers led to a World Series win.
For a while, it seemed like Mickelson might be the greatest golfer in history never to win a major, as he kept racking up second- and third-place finishes. That all changed in 2004, when a birdie putt on the final hole of the Masters gave him his first major win. He’s won five more 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 multiple championships. It took him until 2009 to finally get over the hump, however, as he exorcised any postseason demons by crushing the ball all the way to a World Series win.
Jennifer Capriati (11 years)
Capriati officially turned pro at the age of 13 in 1990 and immediately was a force on the court, reaching the semifinals of her first French Open. She took a break from competitive tennis in the mid-’90s, slowly returned to form and ended up capturing her first Grand Slam title at the 2001 Australian Open.
A nine-time All-Star and Hall of Famer, The Glove spent the majority of his career with the Seattle SuperSonics. A stint with the Los Angeles Lakers gave him a shot at an NBA title, but his time with the Miami Heat was where he clinched 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. It was with the Bucs, in his last season, where he won his Super Bowl.
Jerome Bettis (13 seasons)
The Bus had made the playoffs five times in his career, but never the Super Bowl. In his next-to-last season, his Pittsburgh Steelers lost the 2004-05 AFC Championship game to the New England Patriots. Fortunately for Bettis, he had one more season in him, and though he didn’t start any games in 2005-06, he still helped lead the Steelers to a Super Bowl win.