Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Teams: San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs
Stats: 40,551 yards passing, 63.2 completion percentage, 273 TDs, 139 INTs
Achievements: four Super Bowl championships, three-time Super Bowl MVP
Runner-Up: Johnny Unitas
As fans and members of the media, we have such a strange way of measuring quarterback success in the NFL. At times, we only care about stats, and at other times we only care about championships.
Jim Plunkett won two Super Bowls, but he'll probably never be in the Hall of Fame. Bart Starr won five NFL championships, but almost no one would say he's the greatest QB of all time. Why? Because their overall stats aren't very impressive. Even Terry Bradshaw, who won four Super Bowls, doesn't really get mentioned in the argument of greatest quarterback ever, because he didn't post mind-boggling numbers, throwing just two more TDs than INTs.
Yet Dan Fouts and Fran Tarkenton tore through the record books but few would give them the GOAT title either.
But if there is a player who somehow managed to straddle the line of remarkable stats and championship greatness, it's Joe Cool.
He certainly had the regular season numbers, finishing his career with (since surpassed) the highest QB rating ever, winning two league MVPs, and throwing nearly twice as many TDs as INTs.
Then, in the ideal quarterback model, he not only played up to those expectations in the postseason, he took it to the next level. Aside from a few bumps in the road (1985-87), he almost never made a mistake in the playoffs and in Super Bowls was virtually flawless, throwing 11 touchdowns and no interceptions.
No quarterback was ever more clutch (1981 NFC Championship, Super Bowl XXIII) in the final moments of a big game than Montana, and that's the top line on the list of qualifications for the man behind center.