NFL quarterbacks may be the most celebrated athletes in the world. They are the most popular players in the most popular sport in America today. There have plenty of good quarterbacks in the history of the NFL, but some are greater than others. Here is a list of the greatest QB's of all-time according to me:
10) Brett Favre (Four teams, 1991-2010)
Favre was a classic gunslinger. He was a great passer that made his share of mistakes during his career. Not only did he throw the most TD's in NFL history, but he also threw the most interceptions. It may have been the mistakes that kept him from winning more than one Super Bowl.
Favre started out his career with Atlanta, but was traded to Green Bay after one season. In 1992, he replaced an injured Don Majikowski and never looked back. He is the only player to win three straight MVP awards ('95,'96,'97) and led the Pack to two straight Super Bowls in 1996 and 1997 (he only won in 96). After retiring for the first time in 2007, he played in one meaningless season with the Jets. Then, he tarnished his legacy by retiring and unretiring again and heading to Minnesota. Many football fans hate him, but you have to respect the things he did.
9) Roger Staubach (Cowboys, 1969-79)
To this day, Staubach is considered by many as the greatest QB of the 70's. And, in my opinion, he was. Roger is one the only players in history to win both the Heisman Trophy and a Super Bowl. Staubach won the Heisman back in 1963 at Navy and was drafted in the 10th round by the Cowboys in 1964. After the draft, Staubach decided to serve for five years and returned to football in 1969.
In 1971, he was part of Tom Landry's two-QB system along with Craig Morton. He ended up leading the Cowboys to their first Super Bowl victory as the full-time starter that same year. Staubach led Dallas to five Super Bowl's during the 70's, but lost three of them. He was a great leader and was as talented as anyone. He had a good arm and only Fran Tarkenton was the better scrambler. We may never see another QB like him.
8) Bart Starr (Packers, 1956-71)
Starr will always be known as a winner and a great leader. During the 60's, he and Vince Lombardi led the Packers to three NFL titles and two Super Bowls. From 1960-67, Starr had more success than any other quarterback in the NFL.
Bart did everything he could to help Green Bay win championships. He was a natural leader, an underrated passer, and could run if he had to. Stars best individual season was in 1966. That year he won league MVP, led the Pack to the first ever Super Bowl, and was the MVP of that game. In the second Super Bowl, Starr once again was the MVP. If it weren't for Starr, the Packers wouldn't have had as much success.
7) Otto Graham (Browns, 1944-55)
Before Cleveland had such bad luck with quarterbacks, they had Otto Graham. To this day, Graham leads all QB's in championship wins with 7 and he did it in an 11-year period. Let's compare that to Peyton Manning, who has won one title in 17 years.
Back in the 40's and 50's, the NFL was hardcore. Players wore leather helmets and there were no rules against hard-hitting like there is today. That's why I respect Graham a lot. He had so much success in such a tough era. Graham was a first-team All-Pro selection seven times, won league MVP five times, and is part of the NFL 75th anniversary team. Other than Jim Brown, Graham is the greatest Cleveland Brown of all-time. So, why is he only #7? Well, he won four of his seven titles playing in the mediocre AAFC before the Browns moved to the NFL.
6) Dan Marino (Dolphins, 1983-99)
Yes, I know he never won a title during his NFL career. But, you can't ignore true talent. In his second season, he set the record for passing TD's in a season (48) and led Miami to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, they lost that game to San Francisco and never came close to winning a title again.
Marino may be the greatest passer in the history of the NFL. Before he came along, throwing 40 TD's in a season seemed impossible. Then, Marino did it twice in a three year period. He also was the first player to throw for 5,000 yards in a season. The 80's were Marino's golden years. After his first 8 seasons, Marino was good but not great. Marino had his moments, but injuries and age prevented him from being the same player he once was.
5) John Elway (Broncos, 1983-98)
Before Peyton Manning came along, John Elway was the king in Denver. The Colts drafted him back in 1983, but he was traded to Denver before he ever got a chance to suit up in blue. Elway actually demanded a trade because he didn't want to join the Colts. Agreeing to trade him ended up being perhaps the biggest mistake in Colts history.
Elway quickly solidified himself as one of the game's elite signal-callers. He is well known for what he did to the Browns in the playoffs back in 1985 and 86, beating them twice thanks to his heroics and Cleveland's misfortunes. He is also well known for what he did to win his first Super Bowl. After losing three Super Bowl's, Elway did everything he could to beat the Packers to win his first title. Denver fans will never forget his helicopter dive in that game. He was clutch and talented, which is a good combination in the NFL.
4) Peyton Manning (Colts and Broncos, 1998-present)
Peyton Manning has really had two careers. His first career was with the Colts from 1998 to 2011. During that career, he broke the all-time record for passing TD's in a season with 49 in 2004. He also led the Colts to their second Super Bowl victory in 2006. Manning's last years in Indy weren't necessarily happy times. He lost to the Saints in the Super Bowl and a serious neck injury threatened his career.
After Indy released him in 2011, Manning embarked on a new journey with the Broncos. And, we all know what happened next. Manning's first season was good, but his 2013 season will be remembered forever. Manning broke Tom Brady's record of 50 TD's in a season and threw for the more yards in a season than any other player. And, although he was horrible in the Super Bowl, he still led the Broncos to the big game with a 13-3 record. He isn't even done yet. Peyton may still have a couple years left in him. Could he be higher on the list by the end of his career?
3) Tom Brady (Patriots, 2000-present)
The start of Brady's reign in New England is very similar to Brett Favre's. Like Favre, Brady was an unknown backup who only got a chance due to an unfortunate injury. And, like Favre, Brady took that opportunity and ran with it.
In 2001, Brady and the Patriots reached the Super Bowl and orchestrated one of the greatest upsets in NFL history against the Rams. In that game, he led the Patriots on a game-winning drive and won the MVP award. Since then, Brady has been as consistent as any QB in the NFL. He has blossomed into a fabulous passer and is still the great field general he always was. Brady has lost in the past two Super Bowls he has reached, but we can't take away the three that he had already won. Like Manning, Brady isn't even done yet.
2) Joe Montana (49ers and Chiefs, 1979-95)
Joe Montana is one of the most beloved figures in all of sports, not just football. In San Francisco, he is an icon. He is considered by many the greatest quarterback in NFL history. But, I don't think so.
Montana isn't called Joe Cool for nothing. He was as clutch as any quarterback in the NFL and he knew how to win games. In 1981, we all know how he led threw the game-winning TD against Dallas in the NFC Championship game. Though, that play is known as 'The Catch", not 'The Throw'. Still, I give him a lot of credit for that play. Montana and the Niners went on to win the Super Bowl that year and three more years after that. After leaving San Fran in 1993, Montana went on to play in Kansas City. He wasn't the same player he once was, but he was still elite even at the age of 37. That's how good he was.
1) Johnny Unitas (Three teams, 1955-73)
I know I may seem crazy putting Unitas #1 on the list. But, I have my reasons. I tend to respect QB's from the pre-modern era (1920's-1960's) more than quarterback's from the modern era (1970's-present). For one, they called their own plays and controlled the game more than QB's from this era. Plus, they had less protection and took more punishment due to the lack of rules.
As far as I'm concerned, Johnny U is the greatest QB from the pre-modern era. In the late 50's, he became a star in Baltimore. In 1957, he was crowned the MVP of the league. The following year, he changed the NFL forever. In 'The Greatest Game Ever Played', Unitas was fabulous. And, he led the Colts on a game-winning drive that won the NFL title and will be remembered forever.
Unitas did more for the game of football than any other player on this list. His heroics in that game put the NFL on the map. During his career, he was a 3-time NFL champion, was named first-team All-Pro five times, and won league MVP four times. Unitas was just as clutch as Joe Montana and practically invented the 2-minute drill. He was a brilliant play-caller, a great leader, a fantastic passer, and he changed the NFL forever. That's why he is #1 on my list.
Who's #1 on your list?