If you're tired of political rants or ever at a loss for discussion topics at a tavern, family event or at the office and in any vicinity of sports fans, there's always one debate that's sure to kill the next few hours for you.
Who is the greatest NFL Quarterback of all-time?
It's truly a debate that can rage on not only for a few minutes or hours, but possibly for all eternity. Everyone has an opinion on it and isn't afraid to let you know. You're at an establishment watching a baseball game with your buddy- you know the one. He's the guy that couldn't tell you the first stat about anything....not even the guy up two hitters ago (when they flashed ALL his statistics on the screen), probably doesn't remember his wife's birthday or anniversary either. Contradict his top signal-caller of all-time and to support his guy he'll roll out a list of credentials so long War and Peace starts to look like Cliffs Notes. I've raged debates like this for at least 5 years already. To even debate, one needs a field. I don't have time to type every QB that was good so the field is limited to 16. With that, I give you the contenders (with a little help from the hall of fame website):
These are the guys that my generation didn't get to see except for late in their career or old NFL Films footage. At that, most everything we HAVE seen is a highlight. We don't get to see the dumper games that everyone occasionally has. We also have our dads, uncles and various other old folks' renditions of their greatness. This should be taken with a senile grain of salt.
"Slingin" Sammy Baugh: You can argue Baugh wasn't a top QB, though a top "player" because he split time between tailback, defensive back and punter. Premier passer who influenced great offensive revolution with forward passing in more than just necessary situations. NFL passing, punting, interception champ, 1943. Six-time NFL passing leader. Career records: 21,886 yards, 187 TDs passing, 45.1-yard punting average, 31 interceptions.
Bart Starr: A 17th round draft pick, Starr led the Packers to wins in Super Bowl 1 and 2 (MVP of both games). He led the Packers to six additional division and five NFL titles. The three-time passing champion was the MVP in 1966.
Otto Graham: A man's man, Graham played not only QB but also defense and kick returner in the mid-40s and eary 50s for the Cleveland Browns. Graham won 7 championships and was a 10-time All Pro.
Johnny Unitas: Led Colts to 1958, 1959 NFL crowns, Super Bowl V victory. Player of Year three times . MVP three times in 10 Pro Bowls. . . Completed 2,830 passes for 40,239 yards, 290 TDs. . .Threw at least one TD pass in 47 straight games.
Fran Tarkenton: At retirement led lifetime passers in attempts (6,467), completions (3,686), yards (47,003), touchdowns (342). Exciting, elusive scrambler that rushed for 3,674 yards, 32 TDs. . .Led Vikings to three Super Bowls. Pro Bowl selection nine times.
Roger Staubach: Guided Dallas to four NFC titles, Super Bowl VI (MVP), XII wins. Career stats: 22,700 yards, 153 TDs passing; 2,264 yards, 20 TDs rushing. 83.4 NFL passer rating best ever at time of retirement. Four-time NFL passing leader. . .
Terry Bradshaw: Led Steelers to eight AFC Central, four Super Bowl titles. MVP in Super Bowls XIII and XIV. Career stats: 27,989 yards, 212 TDs passing, 2,257 yards, 32 TDs rushing. NFL MVP, 1978. . recorded a country album.
The 80s and 90s
These are the guys that I grew up watching. They formed they was I think quarterback shoud be played. Unfortunately, very few of today's QBs must have been watching.....
Joe Montana: Led 49ers to four Super Bowl wins. Named Super Bowl MVP three times. . . . Selected to eight Pro Bowls. Career statistics: 3,409 completions, 40,551 yards, 273 TDs, 92.3 passer rating.
Dan Marino: Most prolific passer in NFL history at time of retirement. Career statistics include 4,967 completions, 8,358 attempts for 61,361 yards, and 420 touchdowns. First player ever to pass for 5,000 yards in a season, threw then-record 48 TDs. Recorded thirteen 3,000-yard seasons. Selected to nine Pro Bowls. Never won a Super Bowl.
John Elway: Led Denver to record 47 fourth quarter comebacks. NFL's Most Valuable Player, 1987. Elected to nine Pro Bowls. Career stats: 51,475 yards, 300 touchdowns. Started five Super Bowls. At retirement, winningest quarterback in NFL history. Possibly the most-perfect combination of arm-strength, intelligence and legs in QBing history.
Troy Aikman: Led team to three Super Bowl wins. Winningest starting quarterback of any decade with 90 of 94 career wins occurring in 1990s. Held or tied 47 Dallas passing records. Named to six Pro Bowls.
Warren Moon: Often overlooked because he began pro career with CFL's Edmonton Eskimos, winning five straight Grey Cups. Completed 3,988 of 6,823 passes for 49,325 yards, 291 touchdowns, 233 interceptions in 17-season NFL career. Nine 3,000-yard passing seasons was third in league history. Named to nine Pro Bowls. . .Had four 4,000-yard passing seasons. Consider those first CFL seasons....had they been NFL seasons at an average of 2,500 yards and 10 TDs he would have retired at #1 and #2 all-time, respectively....not shabby. For my buck, the most overlooked QB ever.
Jim Kelly: Passed for more than 3,000 yards in season eight times. Guided Buffalo to eight post-season appearances including an unprecedented four straight Super Bowls. Named to five Pro Bowls. Career stats: 35,467 yards, 237 touchdowns, 84.4 passer rating.
Brett Favre: The gunslinger of gunslingers. Favre no holds EVERY significant NFL QB record: yards, attempts, completions, TDs, wins. Also has one Super Bowl win in two appearances. NFL-record 3-consecutive MVPs in the 90s. Top it off with the fact the he's the NFL's Iron Man...hasn't missed a start since the fall of 1992!!!!!
The gruesome two-some
It's now necessary to include two others into the category of all-time greatest. One more for personal stats and the other for wins when it matters most... but both belong, make no mistake about it.
Tom Brady: Enters 2007 with a record of 82-26 (.759) in regular-season and playoff games. It is the best record of any NFL quarterback in the Super Bowl Era (since 1966) with at least 40 starts. 12-2 Playoff record, only quarterback in NFL history to start and win three Super Bowls before his 28th birthday, having quarterbacked the Patriots to victories in Super Bowl XXXVI when he was 24 years old, Super Bowl XXXVIII (26) and Super Bowl XXXIX (27). Fourth quarterback in NFL history to lead his team to three or more Super Bowl wins, joining Terry Bradshaw (4), Joe Montana (4) and Troy Aikman (3). Two Super Bowl MVP Awards (XXXVI and XXXVIII). He is just the fourth player in Super Bowl history to earn multiple MVP awards, joining Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw and Bart Starr.
Peyton Manning: Manning has established several NFL records, including: most touchdown passes in a single season (49 in 2004), most consecutive seasons with over 4,000 yards passing (1999-2004), and most seasons with 4,000 or more yards passing in a career (7). Manning is second on the list for highest career passer rating, behind only the retired Steve Young. Manning is also the all-time career passing yards and passing touchdowns leader for the Colts franchise, having passed Johnny Unitas's marks. 8-time Pro bowl selection, 2-time MVP and the most recent Super Bowl champion.
There ya have it folks.....debate away. In a day or two's time I'll let you know my thoughts on the subject.