It is widely believed that the position of NFL quarterback, is the most important in the world of sports. This list has been compiled to highlight some of the very best of these men. The criteria range was large, with the number of Super Bowl victories weighted evenly with intangibles like ‘star power’, athletic prowess, showmanship, and simple winning. Enjoy!
#11. Kenny ‘The Snake’ Stabler / Oakland Raiders
Ken Stabler played 15 years in the National Football League, but it was his 10 years as QB of the renegade Oakland Raiders (1970 -1979) where he made his name. He became a Super Bowl champion (XI) in 1977, in addition to 4 Pro Bowls, an MVP award (1974), and an AP Offensive Player of the year award (1974) to his credit, among many other accolades. ‘The Snake’ was one of the more memorable QB’s in the 20th Century.
#10. Dan Fouts / San Diego Chargers
In 1993, Dan Fouts was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This was a well deserved validation for a career that spanned 15 years, all with the San Diego Super Chargers. Mr. Fouts was the ring leader of the fabled ‘Air Coryell’ offense, and was arguably the most prolific passer in the NFL during the late 1970’s through the mid 1980’s. His illustrious career produced 6 Pro Bowl appearances, an NFL MVP (1982), as well as a NFL Offensive Player of the Year award (1982), and a Pro Bowl MVP (1982).
#9. ‘Broadway’ Joe Namath / New York Jets
‘Broadway Joe’ Namath was the very first celebrity QB to grace NFL, and AFL playing fields alike. He played an injury plagued 12 seasons, however when healthy, Joe’s on field, and off field exploits, intoxicated the Big Apple and his fans. A Hall of Fame induction in 1985 signaled the ultimate recognition of a career that earned him AFL Rookie of the Year in 1965, 4 AFL All-Star appearances, 2 AFL MVP’s, 2 UPI Player of the Year awards, a 1968 AFL Championship, and of course the 1969 Super Bowl (III) Championship, with game MVP in tow. The cherry on top? Namath had ‘guaranteed’ victory days prior to the game. Sweet.
#8. Terry Bradshaw / Pittsburgh Steelers
Terry Bradshaw‘s amazing career spanned 14 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, culminating in 4 Super Bowl victories during a dominate run, with 8 AFC Championship game appearances. At the time Bradshaw was the first quarterback to win 3 rings. His best season was in 1978 with a Pro Bowl nod, 1st Team All-Pro, and NFL MVP. In addition, he won Quarterback of the Year, the Super Bowl, and Super Bowl MVP. How about that for a good year? Terry was one of the best ever, and has become a great broadcaster.
#7. Brett Favre / Green Bay Packers
Perhaps the most beloved QB on this list, Brett Favre‘s career was long (20 years), notable, and certainly accomplished. Let’s start with 8 Division Championships, 5 NFC Championship Games, and of course winning Super Bowl XXXI, in a total of 2 appearances overall. That’s not all, there was the 11 Pro Bowls, 3 NFL MVP‘s, 5 NFC Player of the Year, and he led the league in passing TD’s 4 different times. Favre was the walking embodiment of the‘Gunslinger’ quarterback. Often making risky throws into the tightest of windows, sometimes when the window didn’t exist. His everyman persona, and pure love of football, has ingratiated Favre with fans world-wide. We will always remember his boyish enthusiasm.
#6. Peyton Manning / Indianapolis Colts
Without question, if this list was an intelligence ranking, then surely Peyton Manning would be #1 with a bullet. He was an offensive coordinator disguised as a QB. Legendary for his ability to read defenses on the fly, and make audible play-calls, Peyton was hard to defend. His Colts teams were wildly successful during a ten year period, culminating with winning Super Bowl (XLI), and game MVP honors. During that run he stacked his mantle with 4 of his eventual 5 NFL MVP’s, an NFL Offensive Player of Year award, and 3 of his 4 NFL TD Pass titles. Overall, Peyton made 14 Pro Bowls (T-Most All-Time), and even a 2012 Comeback Player of the Year.
#5. Dan Marino / Miami Dolphins
At the time of his retirement in 1999, Dan Marino‘s name repeatedly tattooed the record books. He was the first QB to throw for over 5,000 yards in a single season. He was the first QB to throw 40 touchdown passes in a season. He was the all-time leader in wins, completions, yards, and touchdowns. Dan Marino had the quickest release the NFL had ever seen to that point, perhaps ever. You can add a Rookie of the Year award (1983), and 9 Pro Bowls, to his dizzying list of accomplishments. A Great QB.
#4. Johnny Unitas / Baltimore Colts
No former professional athlete is more revered in the City of Baltimore, than Johnny Unitas. He was the pride of the Baltimore Colts during the idealistic, and prosperous 1950’s and 1960’s. He was recognized as the NFL MVP 4 times, and a Pro Bowler 10 times. Did we forget to mention the 3 NFL Championships, a Super Bowl V Championship (1970)? It’s true. Unitas had an unorthodox delivery, a lion’s competitive heart, and once played for a $6 a game contract. He was the winning quarterback in the fabled ‘greatest game ever played‘ on December 28, 1958, as the Colts beat the NY Giants 23 -17 in ‘Sudden Death Overtime’. Johnny U was awesome.
#3. Tom Brady / New England Patriots
In terms of Super Bowl victories, Tom Brady lives in rarified air. In terms of respect for his competitiveness, and will to win, he is one of a kind. His illustrious career accomplishments includes 4 Super Bowl Championships,
3 Super Bowl MVP’s, 2 NFL MVP’s, and 11 Pro Bowls. Not bad for the former 6th (not a typo) round draft pick out of Michigan University. The model leader of a Patriots team that has seen consistent success, ‘The Golden Boy‘ is quite secure in his legend. His bonafides speak for themselves.
#2. Joe Montana / San Francisco 49ers
Joseph Montana, Jr is widely considered the best of the very best QB’s in NFL history. He sits at #2 on our list but it’s a very fine line. His 15 years, 4 Super Bowl Championships, 3 Super Bowl MVP’s, 8 Pro Bowls, and 2 NFL MVP’s, are the hallmarks of a legend. As are his 49ers 4 NFC Championships The list goes on, and on. Joe Montana was a true winner.
#1. John Elway / Denver Broncos
Simply put, John Elway was a freakishly gifted athlete. His arm strength, mobility, and speed, are all legendary. His penchant for bringing his teams back from the brink of disaster in the closing minutes of games is unrivaled. He could, and in fact did, also play for baseball’s New York Yankees. Yes, we said baseball. A gifted athlete, indeed. Then there’s all those accomplishments, 2 Super Bowl Championships, a Super Bowl MVP,
5 AFC Championships, and 9 Pro Bowls. John Elway was the football truth. In the history of the NFL there is perhaps no more exciting player. The best.