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Greatest Quarterbacks of All Time

Updated on February 21, 2015

John Elway

Uso-show-john-elway-defenselink-mil | Source

Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning | Source

#5 John Elway

John played 16 seasons – 234 games – in the NFL and all of them were with the Denver Broncos. He racked up 51,475 yards passing with an even 300 touchdowns. In his 22 playoff starts, he threw for nearly 5,000 yards and 27 touchdowns.

He led the NFL in quarterback sacked with 516. He habitually held on to the ball far too long and he would take the hits in hopes of the big play. At the time of his retirement, he had the record for regular season wins – 148.

He wouldn’t get to the Super Bowl until his last two seasons, and he won them both. Where he was instrumental in the wins, he was afforded a gift that all quarterback’s dream of – a great running back. In the 1997 and 1998 playoffs that ended with the Lombardi trophy, Terrell Davis ran for 1,140 yards which gave Elway plenty of time to find his targets.


#4 - Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning is clearly a top 10 quarterback but here he is ranked #4. Over his 17-year career, he has racked up 530 touchdowns with 234 interceptions, 69.691 passing yards, 1 Super Bowl ring in 2 appearances, and a lifetime quarterback rating of 97.5.

He spent most of his career in Indianapolis as captain of the Colts. His last three years, however, he was at the helm of the Denver Broncos and seemed to get better with age. In his aforementioned tenure as a Bronco, he hurled for 131 touchdowns and 14,863 passing yards in that short time.

On every single game day, Peyton always eats the same pre-game meal. He has Pasta and marinara sauce, two grilled chicken breasts, broccoli, baked potato, and he washes it all down with Gatorade – A whopping 118 carbs and 671 calories.


Johnny Unitas

Johnny Unitas signing an autograph at the Baltimore Colts' Westminster training camp.
Johnny Unitas signing an autograph at the Baltimore Colts' Westminster training camp. | Source

#3 Johnny Unitas

Johnny played most of his 18 seasons as a Baltimore Colt. He played 10 seasons before the first Super Bowl was played. Over his career, he tossed for 40,239 yards and 290 touchdowns. He was a 9th round draft pick and in his first season, he was cut from the Steelers without playing in one game.

He went on to play semi-pro football for $6.00 per game. He was picked up by the Colts the next year for $17,000 – if he made the team. In “the greatest game ever played” in 1958, the NFL title game, he got the ball on his own 14-yard line with two minutes to go.

Down 17 – 14, he charged his team down the field for a game-tying field goal. In overtime he led his men to a 80-yard march down the field for the big win. The rest of this Hall of Fame career was peppered with last-minute heroics. He also won Super Bowl V over the Cowboys in 1971.


Joe Montana "The Catch"

#2 Joe Montana

Most football fans thought they would never live to see the day were Joe Montana would be listed as #2. That was true until Super Bowl 49 was played. “Joe Cool” was his nickname and for good reason. It seemed that the bigger the moment, the calmer he was.

Joe threw for 40,551 yards in his career with 273 touchdowns and only 139 interceptions. His quarterback rating is a career 92. These numbers pale in comparison to his leadership abilities at clutch times and four Super Bowl wins.

The video attached is of “The Catch” thrown by Joe in Super Bowl XXIII. It was Joe Montana’s San Francisco 49ers versus “America’s Team” – The Dallas Cowboys. The 49ers were trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with three minutes to go.

During a long TV timeout, in the biggest moment of his career with everything on the line, Joe was at his coolest. While waiting for play to ensue, he looked into the stands and said to his teammates, “Hey, isn’t that John Candy?”

Yes, it was comedian/actor John Candy he had spotted in the audience. His teammates were befuddled at Joe’s statement. After all; this was a life and death moment to these guys. This was a pressure cooker situation. This would be the greatest, or worst, moment in everyone’s football life – except for Joe.

Joe led his team down the field to victory and history was made that day. It was later learned that Joe knew John Candy well. They had spoken many times about playing in the Canadian Football League on a John Candy owed team.

Hindsight, seeing John Candy was not a big deal to Joe at all. He may have known he was there all along and used this moment to calm his players. Or, he is just an incredible flake and he was momentarily distracted by a Hollywood star. Only Joe can answer that.


Greatest Super Bowl Ever

Who is the Best Quarterback of All Time?

Who is the Best Quarteback of All Time?

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Funny Reactions To Super Bowl 49 Ending

#1 Tom Brady

While still at the top of his game and no sign of retirement anytime soon, 37-year-old New England Patriot Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time. This was not the case until Super Bowl 49 was played.

He had been in the top 3 discussion with Joe Montana considered as number one for many years. Getting that illustrious fourth Super Bowl ring, however, has sealed the deal for Tom. Only three quarterbacks have attained four championships; Tom Brady, Joe Montana, and Terry Bradshaw. Bradshaw was a good QB, but not a top five great.

Brady has passed for 53,258 yards and 392 touchdowns. This, while only tossing 143 interceptions for a lifetime QB rating of 95.9. This was achieved in just 209 games started. He has won a record 21 of his record 29 playoff games.

Tom has led his team to six Super Bowls which stands as the most starts in the Super Bowl. He also holds the record for most post-season touchdowns with 53, and most yards passing. He has completed a record 13 Super Bowl touchdown passes.

There are many other records he holds, but let’s get to the last 10 minutes of Super Bowl 49. Pats were down by 10 points in the fourth quarter – a deficit no team had ever overcome. It was 3rd and long on the New England 28-yard line. Tom led his crew down the field and got his team within three points of the Seahawks.

The Patriots defense forced the Hawks to punt and Brady went back to work. Pass after pass was completed, even though everyone knew it would be passing-only from here on. Brady did it again and took his team up by four points with 2:02 remaining.

It looked like the game was over – enter Russell Wilson and Jermaine Kearse’s bobbling, juggling, tumbling miracle catch on the Pats 5-yuard line. The next play was a run gaining four yards. Then, the most uproariously dopiest knuckleheaded play call of all time was called. Whether it was coach Pete Carol’s call, or QB Wilson’s audible, will probably never be known.

They had the best running back in the NFL, Marshawn Lynch, and on 2nd down with one yard to go for a second consecutive Super Bowl win, they decided to pass. Enter Patriot's rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler. Coach Belichick had drilled him repeatedly on this particular play and Malcolm recognized the formation – he knew it was a pass play and to whom.

He jumped the play, picked off the pass, and got himself out of the end zone and to the 2-yard line – but it was not over yet. Brady could not take a knee in his end zone because that would be a touch back, it would give the Hawks 2 points, and they would receive a kick off.

Throughout the entire game, Brady had used his leg to signal the hike. This time, coach had Brady scream out hard counts to try to pull the Hawks offside – and it worked. The off sides gave the Pats 5 yards, which put them on the 7-yard line. There was plenty of room for Tom to take a knee.

The Seahawks did not lose gentlemanly, or respectfully, but more disgracefully. On the knee play, they started throwing punches and tossing Patriots around like spoiled brats having a hissy fit. They will have to live with that embarrassment for the rest of their lives.


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    • xanzacow profile image


      3 years ago from North Myrtle Beach, SC

      Where are you writing these days? I am still on the "B" site some, but not much. It wasn't as fun when everybody left.

    • tlcs profile image

      Trudy Cooper 

      3 years ago from Hampshire, UK

      Informative read if you know about this subject which I don't but sounds like Russ Teed knows!

    • Russ Teed profile imageAUTHOR

      Russ Teed 

      3 years ago from Cape Cod, MA

      Dan Marino, Troy Aikman, Bradshaw, Jim Kelly, and about a dozen others could have made #5 - I had to pick one of them, lol.

    • Ty Tayzlor profile image


      3 years ago from Anywhere

      I wouldn't have included John Elway in the top five. There are too many other quarterbacks who could be recognized there.


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