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Friday, February 12, 2010

Jason Whitlock Ranks the Top 10 NFL QBs of All-Time. Discuss.

Jason Whitlock is one of my favorite sportswriters. Here he ranks the Top 10 quarterbacks in NFL history. Good stuff indeed, and great debate fodder.

Here are the 10 greatest QBs of all time:

1. John Elway: Tremendous athleticism. He was Vince Young, except he could throw it accurately to any place on the field. Defensive coordinators and safeties feared his long arm so much that running backs Gaston Green, Bobby Humphrey and Sammy Winder all earned Pro Bowl berths taking handoffs from Elway. But the myth is Elway benefitted from Terrell Davis and Davis didn't benefit from Elway. Elway made the Broncos relevant and dangerous for 16 straight years.

2. Joe Montana: In 10 seasons as a full-time starter in San Francisco, Montana won four Super Bowls, three SB MVPs and two AP league MVPs. He finishes No. 2 because he's not as big, strong and athletic as Elway. Montana excelled in a rhythm and timing passing game. How would he perform in the era when DBs were actually allowed to defend receivers?

3. Johnny Unitas: On this, I defer to the old-timers who swear Mr. Unitas was as good as the modern QBs. He tossed 32 touchdowns in 1959! He led 34 fourth-quarter comebacks, which is second-best all time. He was MVP of the league three times and first-team all-pro five times. He dominated and defined the position throughout the 1960s.

4. Dan Marino: I don't care that he never won a Super Bowl. The dude was awesome. Marino -- not Elway -- holds the record for fourth-quarter comeback victories with 36. Elway is credited with 47, but indisputable research at proves that Marino is the real record holder. Marino set the table for the game we have today. His 48-TD, 5,000-yard sophomore season is the equivalent of Wilt Chamberlain's 50-points-a-game season.

5. Steve Young: You could make a strong case for Young being No. 2 behind Elway. He's just as athletic as Elway. Problem is, Young's resume isn't quite long enough to justify it. He had seven great seasons in San Francisco. He rode the bench behind Montana for four seasons, wasted two seasons in Tampa Bay and two seasons in the USFL. In seven seasons as a starter, Young made the Pro Bowl seven times, was all-pro three times, won the league's MVP award twice and won a Super Bowl and SB MVP trophy.

6. Tom Brady: Every name listed above his quarterbacked at least one losing team. Brady has never led a loser. Never. To me, he epitomizes winning at the QB position, even more than Montana. Joe had Jerry Rice for two of his four Super Bowl victories. Brady won three Super Bowls with Troy Brown. Brady is a combination old-school, new-school quarterback.

7. Brett Favre: He owns all the records good and bad. He's durable. He's courageous. Teammates love to play with him. He would be a star in the 1920s. It's popular to trash Favre now. The game of football is far better with him than without him. If he comes back next season and gets a second Super Bowl, no one will ever doubt his greatness.

8. Peyton Manning: He might one day move into the top five of this list. But not today. Manning is perfect for the Madden video game era. You put him in the 1960s and 1970s -- when defenders could beat up QBs -- and he just might be Jim Everett. Remember the scrambling play Eli Manning made to win XLII? Peyton would have never made that play because he would've fallen to the ground long before a defender touched him. Again, I like Peyton. He just has some work to do before we overlook his shortcomings and anoint him.

9. Roger Staubach: People forget he missed four seasons because of his commitment to the Naval Academy. He was a 27-year-old rookie in 1969. Think of what his career might have been without his service to our country. He won two Super Bowls and was a six-time Pro Bowler despite an abbreviated career.

10. Fran Tarkenton: He was a great player in two decades -- the 1960s and '70s. He quarterbacked the Vikings to three Super Bowl appearances. He played 18 seasons. He could scramble. He was an accurate passer, completing 60 percent of his passes five of his final six seasons. This was long before a 60-precent completion rate was common place. We often overlook Tarkenton's sustained greatness.

You can e-mail Jason at or follow him on Twitter.

1 comment:

  1. Whitlock hasn't been paying attention. The #1 QB of all time is DREW BREES baby!!! - Hightower


Man, that chick beside me is smokin'.

Imagine waking up and seeing this on ESPN. I look like I'm having a stroke back there. Good Lord.

Imagine waking up and seeing this on ESPN. I look like I'm having a stroke back there. Good Lord.

3:30 AM, after the Louisville game.

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