The NFL will finish off their list of the greatest football players in the history of the league on Friday, unveiling the ten greatest quarterbacks the game has ever known.
The NFL narrowed down the group to 22-quarterbacks, here is the list:
Of that list right there, here are my locks:
Those seven are all guaranteed in my opinion, for obvious or different reasons. Most people know of the more modern players, like Brees and Manning, but Otto Graham? A member of the 75th anniversary team for the NFL, Graham won seven championships in both the AAFL and the NFL for the Cleveland Browns, and his resume is as impressive as any of the modern day quarterbacks.
Those seven are my locks, however the other three are a real nitpick as to what exactly you’re looking for, with cases being obvious for everyone of them.
The following I believe won’t make the cut:
Aikman and Bradshaw- critics will argue about the defenses they had, especially with Bradshaw, and in Aikman’s case, that he was handing off to Emmitt Smith, the all-time leading rusher in NFL history.
Rodgers, Starr, Luckman, Staubach, Namath, Van Brocklin, Layne, and Fouts, although all great quarterbacks, won’t make the top 10. You could argue for Favre and Rodgers, the military service Staubach put in before going to the NFL, or the impact of Namath on the QB position, but it’s not enough over the next couple of players.
Dan Marino– the NFL’s all-time leader in just about every single statistical passing category when he retired, Marino also was the first QB to throw for 5,000 yards in an era where wide receivers had to fight just to get open, unlike today’s NFL. Since his retirement, and with the rules eased up so receivers could get open (thank New England for shutting down Peyton Manning’s targets in the playoffs for that), Marino’s records have fallen to Favre, Brees, Brady, and Manning. His 5,084 yards passing in 1984, which marked the first time an NFL quarterback had ever done that, has been broken eight times, and since 2008, ten QBs have thrown for over 5,000 yards.
Fran Tarkenton– this might be a shocker, but Tarkenton deserves to be on the all-time top 10 QB list. Why? Before Marino became the NFL’s leading passer in every category, those records were held by….Fran Tarkenton. Standing 6’0 tall, roughly similar to Drew Brees, and playing in the 1970s against teams like Pittsburgh and the Steel Curtain, the Rams, Dallas and the Doomsday Defense, the Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Colts, Oakland Raiders, and Denver Broncos, Tarkenton was awesome. He didn’t play in today’s “you can’t touch the quarterback” era or in the “illegal contact” for wide receivers, he played in one of the toughest eras in all of football, and lead his Minnesota Vikings to three Super Bowls along the way. Yes, they lost all of them, but they also lost to the team of the 70’s in Pittsburgh, Don Shula’s Miami Dolphins, and John Madden’s Oakland Raiders.
Oh yeah, did I also mention that Tarkenton was the career leader in yards rushing by a quarterback when he retired? He’s now 5th on the all-time list.
Sammy Baugh– How can a quarterback who has the nicknamed “Slingin Sammy Baugh” not be in the Top 10 all-time passers in league history? Playing in the 1930s and 1940s, the NFL was a very different game back then. It was all about running the football, with an occasional pass here and there. Case in point, in 1940, Sammy Baugh led the NFL in touchdown passes….with 12. Yes, 12 touchdown passes. Baugh changed the game through the air, and opened the doors for quarterbacks like Johnny Unitas and Bart Starr in the 1950s. And Baugh’s impact is still being felt today, 60 years after his retirement from football, Baugh still holds a share of the NFL record for most passing titles with six, tied with Steve Young, who just missed the cut.
Oh by the way, Baugh also played defensive back and punter along with being a quarterback.
Didn’t make the cut, just barely:
Steve Young– Young is the best left handed quarterback to ever play the game, and certainly one of the most accurate as well. He won six passing titles, tying him with Sammy Baugh, and his running ability, opened the NFL to players like Michael Vick, Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, RG3, Russell Wilson, and Lamar Jackson. Quarterbacks weren’t just viewed as passers anymore, but now as dual threats.
I wanted so badly to put Young on the list, but I cannot be biased. If there was a top 12 list, he’s in there, along with…
Brett Favre– As a 49ers fan, man oh man, I recall Brett Favre very clearly. As a football fan, he made Packer games watchable, just to see what crazy, gun slinging he was going to do. A mad scramble, a rocket ball, a dime 40-yards down the field, it was amazing to watch Favre play. Even as a Niners fan, how could you not appreciate his play? My only issue is, because of the modern day NFL, quarterbacks like Favre are being forgotten. He should be on the list, there has to be at least one Green Bay Packer in the Top 10 all-time quarterback list, so why not Favre?
The official list should be released in the next 15 minutes or so on NFL Network. Enjoy it, watch it, and then debate it!