The quarterback is probably the most glamorous yet the most difficult position in football and even in all of sports.
The quarterback calls out the play, gets the first crack at the ball on offense and then decides what he wants to do with the leather. Without the quarterback, the offense will not run. The ball will not move forward. The team won’t be able to score. And if it can’t score, they cannot win games. The position is always in the spotlight and the pressure is always on. The quarterback either gets credit for the win or takes the blame for a loss.
Throughout the course of history, we’ve seen many types of quarterbacks with different special physical abilities. Each great in his own way. We’ve seen them lead their teams to NFL glory and put themselves in the upper echelon of their profession.
Here are the Top 10 quarterbacks of all-time:
10. Aaron Rodgers
Known for having a rifle of an arm, Aaron Rodgers rose from being Brett Favre's back-up to become his own legend. Rodgers led the Packers to a victory at Super Bowl XLV. Rodgers was named Super Bowl MVP and he went on to win the league MVP award in 2011 and 2014.
Aside from these major triumphs, Rodgers had a flare for the dramatics. In 2015, authored the Miracle in Motown which produced the longest game ending and game winning Hail Mary pass in NFL history at 61 yards. Barely a month later in the postseason, Rodgers completed two Hail Mary passes in one drive against the Arizona Cardinals, the second of which made a Green Bay the first team in NFL Playoff history to score a game tying touchdown in the last play of a playoff game. On January 2017, Rodgers once again completed a Hail Mary pass that led to a touchdown at the end of the first half of the Packers' wild card game against the New York Giants.
9. Terry Bradshaw
The Pittsburgh Steelers owe their 70's dynasty to a coin flip. That's because they picked first in the 1970 draft after winning a coin flip tiebreaker against the Chicago Bears. The pick became Terry Bradshaw and the rest, as they say, is history.
The Steel Curtain defense was the backbone of the Pittsburgh Steelers dynasty but Terry Bradshaw was the show closer. Bradshaw there only seven 300 yard passing games in his career but two of those were in Super Bowls. Bradley passed 932 yards and 9 touchdowns in four Super Bowl appearances, both records at the time of his retirement. More importantly, the Steelers won all four Super Bowls during an impressive six year span from 1974-1979. Bradshaw also became the first quarterback in NFL history to win three and then four Super Bowls.
8. Dan Marino
Dan Marino wowed NFL audiences with one of the best throwing arms in NFL history. Marino's release was so swift that opposing defenses had little or no chance of sacking him. Because of that uncanny ability, Marino is tied with Peyton Manning for the lowest career sack percentage in NFL history at 3.13%.
Unfortunately for Marino, he never had a good running game backing him up. Although he led the Miami Dolphins to ten postseason appearances, he only made the Super Bowl game once, losing to the San Francisco 49ers at Super Bowl XIX. Marino threw a record 48 touchdowns that season, earning him the NFL's MVP award. He is currently 5th in the all-time list for most wins by a starting quarterback. Marino won all three major NFL awards during his career: MVP in 1984, Comeback Player of the Year in 1994 and Man of the Year in 1998.
7. Brett Favre
It's kind of ironic that a Green Bay Packers' doctor failed Brett Favre in a physical after they traded for him. That's because Favre went on to become the NFL's iron man by starting a record 297 consecutive games, 321 including the playoffs. Nicknamed the Gunslinger for his golden throwing arm, Favre was a risk taker who took chances with his plays, even if things didn't work out for him. As a result, he is the NFL leader in passes intercepted with 336 total.
Favre was NFL MVP from 1995 to 1997. Favre was the first player in NFL history to pass for 500 touchdowns, throw over 70,000 yards and 6,000 completions, over 10,000 pass attempts. Favre is the only player to win the AP NFL Player of the Year in three straight seasons. He is one of six quarterbacks in history to win the award and the Super Bowl in the same season.
6. John Elway
There could have never been a better ending for John Elway's career. After leading mediocre Denver Bronco teams to the postseason 8 times and taking them to the Super Bowl 3 times without a win, it seemed that John Elway's hall of fame career would end without a trophy. But that changed in 2015 when the Broncos won Super Bowl 23. They won again the following year and Elway retired on top.
John Elway is best remembered for engineering 'The Drive' where he led the Broncos to a game tying 98 yard touching drive in the 1997 AFC Championship Game. He is also one of only two players to score a rushing touchdown in four different Super Bowls. The other to do it was Thurman Thomas. What made Elway's feat more special is that Thomas was a running back and Elway a quarterback.
5. Otto Graham
When we talk of two sport athletes, we think of the names Deion Sanders or Bo Jackson. But in the history of sports, there have only been two players to have won titles in two of the four major North American Sports-Gene Conley and Otto Graham.
Let's talk about our subject at hand. In 1946, Graham was part of the AAFC champion team Cleveland Browns and the NBL title winning squad Rochester Royals. Graham did not pursue a basketball career after that though. Instead, he embarked of a football career that was one of the best during his era. Graham led the Browns to the League championship game from 1946 to 1955, winning seven titles in the process. He was AAFC MVP twice and NFL MVP three times. He also established several records and while many have been broken, he still owns the highest winning percentage of s starting quarterback at .814.
4. Johnny Unitas
Like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, Johnny Unitas had a flare for the dramatics. Often, he would lead his team during 4th quarter comebacks, coming up with one spectacular play after another and willing his Baltimore a Colts offense to victory.
Unitas' strong passing game coupled with his crew cut hairstyle and funny looking shoes made him popular with the media. He won three NFL titles, one Super Bowl and 5 NFL MVP awards. Known as the Golden Arm, Unitas held the record for most games with a touchdown pass ( 47 games ) for 52 years before Drew Brees broke it in 2012. He also held several records that now have been broken. Despite that, he's received several tributes because of his accomplishments. Unitas #16 is the only jersey number retired by the football program of the University of Louisville. A dormitory at the University of Louisville is named Unitas Tower after him. Ocean City in Maryland renamed its 19th street as the Johnny Unitas Way in his honor.
3. Peyton Manning
The master of the two minute drive and one of the great comeback artists of all-time. Peyton Manning arrived at a time when the NFL game was no longer driven by quarterbacks. He changed that and put the quarterback position back to its rightful place.
Manning spent the first 14 years of his career with the Indianapolis Colts and finished his final four with the Denver Broncos. His success with both teams led to several record. Manning is the only player to win Super Bowls for more than one franchise. He is also the only player to have multiple Super Bowl starts for two different franchises. He is the only player to play four Super Bowls with four different head coaches. At age 39, he became the oldest quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl. Manning has two Super Bowls to his credit and he is the only player to win the AP NFL MVP five times.
2. Joe Montana
Joe Montana proved that you can win the Super Bowl through the air. Montana arrived at a time when defense and running games ruled the sport. However, the 49ers transformed the game into a chess match where wide receivers and pass-catching running backs became the primary options. Montana was the perfect quarterback with his cool demeanor and laser like accuracy.
Montana started and won four Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers. He was the first player to win three Super Bowl MVP awards. Montana holds the Super Bowl record for most passes completed without an interception ( 122 times in 4 games ). His quarterback rating of 127.8 is the all-time highest in NFL history. He led his team to 32 fourth quarter comeback victories. The most notable ones touchdowns were the ones during the 1981 NFC Championship game and Super Bowl XXIII. The game winning touchdown at Super Bowl XXIII was completed with 36 seconds left to play and after advancing a total of 92 yards.
1. Tom Brady
After Tom Brady and the New England Patriots walked away with a last second victory against the Seattle Seahawks at Super Bowl XLIX, he already had he claim to be the greatest quarterback ever. The victory was his fourth in six Super Bowls, tying him with Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw for the most Super Bowl wins by a quarterback. Sure, Montana and Bradshaw were unbeaten in the Super Bowl. But Tom Brady played in six Super Bowls and went 4-2 and he wasn't done.
Brady cemented his status as the best ever after another classic come from behind victory over the Atlanta Falcons at Super Bowl LI. Brady completed 43 of 62 passes for 466 yards in the game, all Super Bowl records. In doing so, Brady won a 4th Super Bowl MVP award, the most by any player in NFL history. The Pats comeback from a 28-3 third quarter deficit was the biggest comeback win in team history and the biggest comeback win in Super Bowl history. With the victory, Brady set himself apart from Montana and Bradshaw with five Super Bowl victories all with the same franchise.
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