Matthew Evarts Staff Writer
Quarterback is the most important position in football. Often in this age, wins and losses are on the shoulders of these signal callers. In the history of the sport, some of the giants of the game have played the quarterback position. Let’s look at who has played the position better than anybody else in history, and let’s start with a familiar name.
- Tom Brady
Tom Brady’s resume speaks for itself: 5x super bowl champion, 4x super bowl MVP, 3x regular season MVP. He has carried the New England Patriots for the majority of the 21st century and has gotten them in consideration for the super bowl even with less than desirable pieces around him. If you put him on any team in the league, he would make them super bowl contenders too. The only knock against Tom Brady is he has lost 3 Superbowls to below average quarterbacks like Eli Manning and Nick Foles.
- Peyton Manning
Manning has revolutionized the position and made it so that where you call the plays is at the line and has turned it into a science. He is so fundamental in the way he plays and always makes the right decisions at the right time. Manning is also the all-time leader in passing touchdowns and the most regular season MVPs in history, having 5. The criticism of Manning is that he is known to choke in big games.
- Joe Montana
Montana is undefeated in super bowls with the San Francisco 49ers, holding 4 rings. This perfect record in the Superbowl is mainly due to the brilliance of Montana. The 49ers offense for a number of years was just Montana. Lacking a running game, Montana willed the 49ers into the playoffs a majority of the seasons.
- Drew Brees
Brees at 6 feet tall is one of the shortest quarterbacks off all time. With that being said, he is still going to blow all the records for a quarterback to set. While already breaking the all-time passing yards record, he is only 21 touchdowns away from breaking Peyton Manning’s record for all-time touchdowns. He can easily break that by midway through next season. Brees also has the longest streak of games with at least 1 touchdown pass per game. That shows he has the durability to go 54 games (3.5 seasons) while throwing a touchdown in each of them.
- John Elway
John Elway was ahead of his time for his ability to run the ball; he is the only quarterback in NFL history to score a rushing touchdown in four different Super Bowls. He rushed for 3,407 yards and 33 touchdowns over his 16-year career—a significant amount. He was also clutch in the postseason, with four fourth-quarter comebacks and six game-winning drives in the playoffs. The criticism of Elway is that he was very inaccurate with the ball. He had a 3.1 interception rate and a 56.9 completion percentage.
- Dan Marino
Evaluating NFL quarterbacks is a balancing act between stats, playing style, and wins. Marino has everything you’d want from the first two categories, but his teams never won a Super Bowl, which hurts him in the great-quarterbacks conversation. But just because Marino never hoisted a Lombardi Trophy doesn’t mean he didn’t win; in his 17 seasons with the Miami Dolphins, he reached the postseason 10 times. Marino is consistently ranked lower than he should be due to championships a team, not individual, effort. There’s no denying Marino is special, though. Evidence of this lies in the fact that when he retired he held almost every passing record. The huge criticism of him is that he was never able to win a championship like the other quarterbacks.
- Aaron Rodgers
When it comes to intangibles, Aaron Rodgers may be the most talented player on this list. Need a poised pocket passer? He can be that. Need someone who can detect and evade pressure, extending plays for seven, eight, 10 seconds? He can do that, too. Rodgers’ ability to diagnose and read defenses approaches Peyton Manning’s, and his football IQ is among the highest the league has seen. His arm strength is off the charts, demonstrated by his many successful Hail Mary passes and the fact that his 7.9 yards per pass average is the second-highest on this list after Otto Graham.
- Brett Favre
Some might remember Brett Favre as the QB who wouldn’t retire, but in his prime Favre was the ultimate gunslinger, all-time leader in interceptions, and was for many years the all-time leader in passing touchdowns and yards. Favre amazed with his strong arm, unbelievable durability and improvisational skills out of the pocket. He’s the only player to win the MVP in three consecutive seasons from 1995 to 1997 and was named the Super Bowl MVP in 1996.
- Roger Staubach
Like John Elway after him, Roger Staubach— also known as Roger the Dodger— was famous for his scrambling ability and penchant for pulling out late wins. Staubach had 23 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter. He also became the unofficial father of the Hail Mary pass after he connected with Drew Pearson on a 50-yard touchdown with 24 seconds to play, leading the Dallas Cowboys to a 17-14 victory in the 1975 playoffs.
- Johnny Unitas
Joe Montana would earn the nickname Joe Cool for his ability to keep calm under pressure, but Johnny Unitas exemplified that trait years earlier. Like Drew Brees (6’0”) would decades later, Unitas made a name for himself as an undersized passer (6’1”) who led one of the deadliest passing offenses the league has seen. He also made his teammates believe they could win—and they did, with two NFL championships and a victory in Super Bowl V.