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The Top 5 Greatest Quarterbacks Of All Time
Let the flame wars begin!
Any discussion of the top NFL quarterbacks of all time is going to disappoint way more people than it satisfies. There are going to be some of your personal favorites that have been left out in favour of QBs that according to you had limp spaghetti arms tossing wounded ducks and won SuperBowls on the backs of their running game. That's fair enough. That's the way things should be in sports. You have to be enthusiastic, and even rabid, in the support of your personal favourites. Otherwise, where's the fun?
So here we go!
#5 Johnny Unitas of the Baltimore Colts and San Diego Chargers (1956-1973)
Johnny would have been likely sparring for the top one or two spot were it not for the missteps in his later career, where he carried on with the Chargers a bit longer than his body allowed him to do. Regardless, you have to look at any 17 year span of taking sacks from 300 lb. meanies as an astonishing feat, and when Johnny was in his prime, he was thoroughly awe inspiring. And when you consider that his 47-game streak of at least one touchdown pass per game was done in an era where the aerial attack was still in its infancy, it's even more astounding. For all the young whippersnappers who were too busy being spermatozoa when Johnny was winning NFL championships (that's what they were before the Super Bowl) and want to place their current flashes in the pans ahead of this vintage signal caller, all I can say is you'd better be able to back it up with real and weighted stats.
Will There Ever Be A More Worthy Group?
#4 Terry Bradshaw of the Pittsburgh Steelers (1970-83)
Again, Terry would have placed a scosh higher were it not for his later career and the extremely unfortunate fact that he was truly only an instinct QB. That's a really PC way of saying that Terry was, in the immortal lyrics of Jim Croce "as big and dumb as a man can come, but he was stronger than a country hoss." Some people may argue that when you have The Steel Curtain Defense to rely on, you could get your grandmother to toss the pigskin and still win championships, but that would be ignoring the stats that definitively prove that anyone who can rack up 212 TD passes and tack on 32 on the ground has to be considered in the absolute highest echelon of all time stars. We love you Terry. We just could have done without the horrific sight of your old bare butt in that stupid movie...
#3 Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts (1998-Forever)
I'm not just a blind Colts fan (I'm actually a Bucs/Raiders hybrid... what can I say, I like Pirates...) but you simply have to list Peyton in this group, and yes, ahead of Bradshaw. Manning has Terry's great physical skills, but trumps him in height and most importantly cranial capacity. Peyton is a thinking man's QB. He can tell by the twitch of a linebacker's arm how the play is going to unfold. His sheer wisdom is not borne of extensive experience like some of the other great all timers, but from study, research and application. If I had a penny for every frame of game film Peyton has reviewed while his peers were out betting on dog fights, I'd have Bill Gates outside right now waxing my car. The pressure is on Dungy who has to really step up and continue to give him a supporting cast worthy of his brain and arm. Even if the inconceivable were to happen and Manning were not to take another snap, he would still deserve to be on this list.
#2 Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins (1983-1999)
Watching Dan hobble around the field on leg braces designed by the Borg Queen was a hard way to see him end a 17 year career, like Unitas before him. Never the most mobile QB of all time, Dan had the benefit of a couple of guys named Duper and Clayton, but no one can ever take away the glory years when he was simply infallible. He succeeded the (in my humble opinion) vastly overrated Bob Griese and not only shattered his records, but dynamited the entire book. The only rookie QB to start the ProBowl, Dan exploded onto the league with his sizzling clotheslines and impeccable reads that set a level of excellence that not only has yet to be surpassed, but perhaps never will be. If he could have gotten even one ring, he might have dethroned the ultimate champion who is next...
... and, drum roll please, the Number One NFL Quarterback of All Time is... (no surprise here):
Joe Montana of the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs (1979-1994)
The scouts and managers who let Notre Dame Joe sit on the sidelines through the first two rounds of the draft should be paraded around town in dunce caps. If you have any questions as to who should be the Number One Greatest, just repeat this as your new mantra "11 playoff appearances, 9 divisional championships and victories in Super Bowls XVI, XIX, XXIII, and XXIV." The proof of the pudding is always in the eating, and all the ringless QBs sitting at home can just keep stoking their fan club's fires on their blogs, because nothing is ever going to take away from Joe Montana his rightful place at the head of the class of All Time Great Quarterbacks. There may never be another record quite like that, and thus his place in history is guaranteed in perpetuity. God bless you, Joe, and thanks for showing us what perfection really is!
So, where's Bart Starr, Fran Tarkenton, Roger Staubach, Joe Namath, Troy Aikman, John Elway, Brett Favre, Tom Brady, blah blah blah? Sorry, folks. They just didn't make the cut. They are all greats but they just can't stack up to these five. Considering that there have been hundreds of QBs filling the spot, to make it to the top five is an incredible achievement, and the guys I've listed above would all comfortably fit into the top 20, perhaps alongside Dan Fouts, Phil Simms, Jim Kelly, Warren Moon, Otto Graham, Y.A. Tittle, Len Dawson and a few others. In case you haven't noticed, football is a team sport, so no matter how phenomenal the QB, he has to be backed up by fleet footed Mercury WRs, and stand behind a line that gives him more than six nanoseconds to dump the ball. All of those factors have to be taken into consideration, otherwise, the top QB of all time might end up being Peyton's dad Archie!!!
My brother-in-law at the time, a young computer programmer and avid Toronto Blue Jays fan took some time out from trudging through slush and adding snow rings to the bottom of his trousers to visit his sister and me at our home in Central Florida. It was clear that the visit had three specific purposes. In order from least important to most important: To get out of the cold; to visit with us; and to get to nearby Dunedin. Ah yes, Dunedin, Florida, that shining nirvana to every shivering toque-clad Torontonian desperately cranking his dying Motomaster battery to get his rusty '89 Cavalier restarted in the left lane of the Don Valley Parking Lot in an early March white-out.
Dunedin is the balmy Florida location where the Toronto Blue Jays come to run their spring training schedule. While most of their fans are taking headers on the icy sidewalks of Bay Street, the team is enjoying the sun and the fun, in-between innings at least.
No sooner did my brother-in-law unpack his bags that he asked me to go with him to Dunedin. We'll have a great time, he insisted.
I had never been to a baseball game. I've been a dyed in the wool football fan ever since I could spell NFL, but baseball to me was somewhat like cricket but with better hot dogs. Eternal, stultifying, incomprehensible and essentially pointless.
What followed were clearly the longest four hours of my life. We sat in the searing Florida sun waiting for someone to hit a ball with a stick, which they managed to do at least a couple of times every hour.
When a Hub writer I respect greatly, Mr. Paul Edmondson, used Hub Pages' new Request feature to ask me to write a piece on "Who are the top five home run hitters of all-time?" the blood chilled in my veins. I certainly didn't want to turn Paul down, but he might as well asked me who the top five quilters of all time are. Writing a Hub about baseball in my playbook would be somewhat equivalent to Ralph Nader writing an article on restoring Corvairs while wearing Armani suits.
Therefore, Paul's request was transmorgified into this Hub. Please forgive me, Paul. But I just didn't have it in me.
By the way:
And I hadn't even ever heard of one of them! BTW, Harmon Killebrew, Jimmie Foxx, Willie McCovey... are those real or made-up names?