Tuesday, February 7, 2012

11 Greatest Quarterbacks of All Time

In the wake of Super Bowl XLVI, everyone seems to be focused on how the game has affected the legacies of the two quarterbacks. This prompted me to consider my list of the greatest to ever play, and also the guys who don't yet have the resume to be on here but who I think one day just might.

Players Who Might One Day Be On This List

Aaron Rodgers - Rodgers is 28 and already has a Super Bowl and an MVP award under his belt (or should I say his Discount Double-Check). The Packers are not only one of the best teams in the league, but they are also one of the youngest, and should be contenders for years to come.

Drew Brees - If the 33 year old Brees can play at the level he did this year for the next three years, it's not at all out of the question for him to crack the Top 11. Another Super Bowl would do his legacy wonders, and I'm sure Brees is still torn up over the loss in San Fransisco, because the title was wide open for the taking this year. I still don't think anyone would've beaten the Saints on turf.

Ben Roethelisberger - He doesn't have the best statistics, but he's only 29 and has two Super Bowl titles. Many people will point out that he's had the luxury of a top 5 defense for most of his career, but his game winning drive in Super Bowl XLIII was as clutch a drive as there's been in NFL history. Another Super Bowl victory and he has to at least be in this conversation.

Eli Manning - Little brother took a big step forward yesterday by putting himself in the slim category of multiple championship winners. He was lucky at times in his first Super Bowl victory, but yesterday he out-dueled one of the best to ever play. At 29 years old, there's no reason to think he can't one day be considered an all time great.

Cam Newton - He broke all of Peyton Manning's rookie records (spoiler alert - Peyton Manning will be on this list), and there's just no reason to think he'll slow down moving forward. What really gives me confidence to mention him as a potential all-time great is his character and his attitude. I think that the scandal that casted a shadow over his championship season at Auburn left people with the impression that Cam was a raw talent with character issues who would probably have an up and down rookie season. Instead he blew us away with his jaw dropping playmaking, his surprising accuracy, and his great leadership. Cam is on a mission to be great and when you combine that approach with arguably the best skill set we've ever seen from the quarterback position, the sky is the limit.

Andrew Luck - I'm sure I'll get a lot of criticism for this one, but I am in the front row of the Andrew Luck bandwagon and I'm not moving an inch. There literally isn't anything that Luck doesn't do extremely well. He's got the size, the arm, the accuracy, the mind, the intangibles, and he can run like Tim Tebow. Putting him in here is obviously a bold prediction as he hasn't played an NFL down, but if there's any real argument I can give, it's that the last two QBs who were touted this highly (Manning and John Elway) are both on this list.

And now for the list itself, here are the eleven greatest quarterbacks to ever strap on a helmet.

11. Roger Staubach - Tom Landry described Staubach as "possibly the best combination of a passer, an athlete, and a leader to ever play in the NFL." That's high praise from the legendary coach, but it was well warranted as Roger led the Cowboys to two Super Bowls while making six Pro Bowl appearances.

10. Sid Luckman - Fifty-one years before I was born (1940), Sid Luckman led the Chicago Bears to their first NFL title. He would win five in his career, along with making five all-pro teams, and along with setting the record for most touchdown passes in a game with seven. With a resume like that, it will be hard for one of today's QBs to knock Sid the Kid off this list.

9. Dan Marino - It's unfortunate that Marino will forever be remembered as "the greatest to never win a championship," because he was truly one of the most gifted passers of all time. Considering we've been living in this pass happy era for over a decade, it's pretty amazing that Marino's single season passing record was just finally broken this year considering that it was set back in 1984. He never won the big won, but was selected to nine pro bowl teams and won the MVP award in his 84' season.

8. Otto Graham - Otto Graham was Tom Brady before we had Tom Brady. He was just a winner and a clutch performer. He played 10 seasons, and took the Browns to 10 championship games, winning seven, making him the closest thing the NFL has had to Bill Russell

7. Brett Favre - Favre's legacy took a hit with his refusal to retire and the scandal last season, but he was still one of the most dominant players in NFL history. He only won one Super Bowl championship, but he is one of only four players to win the MVP award three times, is the holder of the career passing record, and provided countless clutch performances throughout his career. He's not the most popular guy right now, but is still one of the best of all time.

6. John Elway - This might seem little bit low for one of the most talented athletes of all time, but Elway was just barely edged out by the guy in front of him. To me, the first four are obvious, and then you have to split hairs between the next four. Elway saved his legacy by winning two Super Bowl titles to end his career, and appeared in five overall. He also won the MVP in 1987. He's also led more 4th quarter/OT comeback victories than anyone else in NFL history.

5. Sammy Baugh - No matter how impressive the passing in the NFL becomes, no one will ever be able to question that Baugh deserves a spot on any of these lists, because the NFL might not be what it is today without "Slingin Sammy." When Baugh entered the league in 1937, the forward pass was used only in desperate situations when teams needed to score quickly. Baugh was the first player to start beating teams with his arm, and the league was never the same. He was also the best punter in the league while he played, and one of the best cornerbacks. In one game he threw for four touchdowns and intercepted four passes. He's a legend and nothing short of one of the very best to ever play football.

4. Peyton Manning - Does anyone really think there's a chance that Peyton retires? He'll be 36 by next season, but football and more specifically his legacy mean everything in the world to this guy. I'm as big of an Andrew Luck fan as you'll find, but I really hope Peyton stomps on the Colts in another uniform next year just to shove his greatness in Irsay's face. I'd personally like to see Peyton go to the 49ers, but apparently they're not interested, and of the teams that reportedly are I think the Jets make the most sense. Manning may only have three years left at the most, but he still has time to make a case for himself as the best of all time. He's considered by many to be the most skilled passer of all time, but he just doesn't have multiple championships. I'd love to see him end his career the way that Elway did.

3. Johnny Unitas - Sammy Baugh changed the forward pass, and then Johnny U took it to the next level, shredding teams like no one had ever seen before. He threw a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games, a record which still hasn't been broken, was a 3 time MVP, and a 3 time NFL champion. Like Baugh, Unitas has to be a staple on these lists throughout history. But another title or MVP year from Manning, and he'd drop back to number four for me.

2. Tom Brady - If it weren't for a David Tyree helmet catch/Asante Samuel dropped interception and a Wes Welker dropped pass, Tom Brady would have five Super Bowls, a perfect season, the single season touchdown record, and two MVPs on his resume, and would unquestionably be the best of all time. Brady will be 35 by next season, and will have three or four years to win that fourth title, and if he doesn't, I just don't see how he'll ever be remembered as the greatest. On the bright side, however, I felt like the Pats were the best team in a weak AFC this year. They beat people without any sort of deep threat on offense and a porous defense, all thanks to Brady's pinpoint precision and Gronkowski's emergence. I think that the Patriots should do everything in their power to land DeSean Jackson in the offseason, because someone like him would make them unstoppable.

1. Joe Montana - Until we see another championship from Brady or Manning, or two or three more from the guys I listed as potential greats, Joe Montana is the best quarterback of all time. Four Super Bowl titles in four appearances, two MVPs, and countless game winning drives and come from behind victories. He didn't have the biggest arm, and wasn't the greatest athlete, but he ran the West Coast Offense to perfection and is the best big game quarterback in history. He's got great players chasing him every year in the pass happy NFL he helped create, but for now Joe Montana is the best to ever play the game.


  1. #2: Only way Tom will ever become "unstoppable" is if my baby Eli retires. All baby Eli does is own Tom. Its so bad these days, I heard Adam Schefter report that Eli wakes up in the morning, calls Brady, and in no time, Tom is at his house with the sole purpose of bringing baby Eli his slippers. Then he goes home. This happens every day.

    Also, Tom won Super Bowls carried by a defense on a team that cheated. After they stopped cheating, his post season numbers have been pedestrian and hasn't won.

    Right now, if you look at their all time "clutch" resumes, my baby Eli's record is better than Tom's.

    1. was that some sort of attempt at humor? because that was almost unreadable. fortunately, i got through the whole thing, so i can rip it apart.

      the patriots so-called "cheating" was a practice of videotaping coaching signals that most, if not all, teams in the nfl were doing at the time, the pats just happened to get caught. and teams change signals every game, especially in the playoffs, so the advantage is minimal.

      saying brady "hasn't won" since his super bowl victories is also idiotic. the guy set the gold standard, winning super bowls in 3 of his first 4 seasons. since then, he's gone to the afc championship 3 times and the super bowl twice. i'd hardly call that not winning, because that's better than almost every quarterback in the nfl during that time.

      and the clutch resume, you must be basing that on the only two games you've watched, the two super bowls, which, mind you, the giants had the better defense in both games.

      i also couldn't help but notice that you are a woman, as well, so in no way can i respect your sports opinion in the slightest, and it is near impossible for you to be funny.

      I would say 5 super bowl appearances, 3 super bowl victories, 2 mvps, 2 super bowl mvps, an undefeated season, multiple passing records, the most postseason wins, highest regular season win percentage ever for a qb, and the highest postseason winning percentage ever for a qb is unstoppable. but thats just me.

      thanks for your time

  2. I can't argue with this list. I wonder if Steve Young could have made this list had he not started in Tampa and sat behind Montana for so long in SF.

    1. Completely agree on Young. The greatest QB's need playoff success and longevity. Young had the success, but lacked the length of career as a starter. The Bucs and SF bench stops certainly limited his legacy.

    2. Just so you know, there is something Andrew Luck doesn't do well: public speaking.