Top 10 Greatest Quarterbacks

LVCorrespondent IJuly 3, 2009

NEW YORK - JUNE 16:  Former NFL Quarterback Dan  Marino attends Samsung's 8th Annual Four Seasons Of Hope Gala at Cipriani Wall Street on June 16, 2009 in New York City.  (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

(Philadelphia) — With a couple more weeks before NFL training camps open (Cleveland Browns report on July 24), I thought a good way to pass the time was to create the Taking It To The House list of the greatest players at each position. 

So let the debating begin and please use the comments area to give props/slights or send us your opinion via email.


Taking It to the House: Top 10 Greatest Quarterbacks

We begin our look at ranking the football’s greatest players by position by looking at the quarterbacks.  No position in football stirs more conversation at the sports bar, barbershop, or anywhere else like talking signal callers.

Quarterback characteristics of leadership, footwork, grit, accruracy, winning, arm strength, decision-making, mobility, and other intangibles all fuel the fires of often-heated quarterback debates.

  1. Joe Montana – San Francisco 49ers and Kansas Chiefs (HOF)  — Winner of four Super Bowls and the coolest quarterback under pressure in NFL history.  No situation on the football field seemed to frazzle Joe Cool.  Though he didn’t have the strongest arm, his smarts and footwork were a perfect fits for Bill Walsh’s West Coast Offense.
  2. John Elway – Denver Broncos (HOF) – Even though he did not win the “Big One” until his final two seasons in the NFL, Big John always had a fourth-quarter comeback in him.  Elway had one of the NFL’s greatest arms ever and he was an excellent scrambler who either bought time with his legs or ran downfield for positive yardage.
  3. Johnny Unitas – Baltimore Colts and San Diego Chargers (HOF) – The greatest old-school thrower of them all.  The flat-top haircut and high top black spikes were only a small part of this miraculous leader who was tough as nails.  Hard to believe that the Steelers cut Unitas in his first shot at the NFL.  Johnny U was a 10-time Pro Bowler, five-time first-team All-Pro, and led the Colts to championships in 1958, 1959, and 1971 (Super Bowl V)
  4. Tom Brady – New England Patriots*  — Despite not playing in 2008 with a knee injury, Brady in a short period of time has already written a Hall of Fame worthy resume including playing in four Super Bowls (winning three).  Tom “Terrific” is not the most athletic passer, but he truly has grit and a winning mentality.  Holds the NFL record of the most touchdowns in a season with 50 TDs in 2007.
  5. Otto Graham – Cleveland Browns (AAFC and NFL)  (HOF) – Once billed as the world’s greatest athlete for his prowess on the football field and basketball court (NBA – Rochester Royals), Graham was a big tough quarterback from the 1950’s that won regularly—compiling a 105-17-4 record,.  The Browns great dominated first in the AAFC then the NFL, being selected first-team All-Pro seven times and to five Pro Bowls.  Won titles in 1946 (AAFC), 1947 (AAFC), 1948 (AAFC), 1949 (AAFC), 1950 (NFL), 1954 (NFL), and 1955 (NFL).
  6. Brett Favre – Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, and New York Jets – The man who holds virtually every NFL passing record is a tough competitor that never lacks confidence in his game.  Of course, there is the matter of him retiring and unretiring.  But this three-time NFL MVP and Super Bowl XXXII hero will go down as one of the NFL’s best ever, once he finally hangs up his spurs.
  7. Dan Marino – Miami Dolphins (HOF) – Only made one Super Bowl, which he lost.  But South Florida’s triggerman held virtually every passing record in the NFL at the time of his retirement.  Had the fastest release I have ever seen.  Imagine how much better Marino’s stats would have been if he had a running game to complement his passing.
  8. Peyton Manning  – Indianapolis Colts* — A throwback to a different era, Archie’s son was has been phenomenal in his 11-year NFL career.  Manning is a classic dropback passer who is able to dissect a defense from the pocket.  A nine-time Pro Bowl player and three-time league MVP, once Peyton is done, his career will end in Canton.  Any questions regarding his HOF status were answered when he led the Colts to a victory in Super Bowl XLI.
  9. Sammy Baugh – Washington Redskins (HOF) – Probably was the NFL’s greatest player in the 1940’s.  Slingin’ Sammy was a great passer, punter, and defensive back while willing the Redskins to championships in 1937 (rookie season) and 1942.  Baugh threw the ball at a time when others only ran it, plus he led the NFL in punting and interceptions at different times in his career.
  10. Warren Moon – Edmonton Eskimoes (CFL), Houston Oilers, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, and Kansas City Chiefs (HOF) – This classic passer (threw for over 70,000 yards in his career) won on every level from the Rose Bowl in Senior campaign for the University of Washington to the CFL, winning five Grey Cups for the Edmonton Eskimoes to the NFL where he led three different franchises to the playoffs.  In his career that ended at the Hall of Fame, Moon threw for over 4,000 yards four times including one at age 39.  Was the first African-American quarterback to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Honorable Mention: Troy Aikman (HOF), Damon Allen (CFL), Terry Bradshaw (HOF), Randall Cunningham, Len Dawson (HOF), Doug Flutie (USFL/CFL/NFL), Bob Griese (HOF),  Jim Kelly (HOF), Steve McNair, Earl Morrall, Joe Namath (HOF), Dan Fouts (HOF), Jim Plunkett, Phil Simms, Ken Stabler, Bart Starr, Roger Staubach (HOF), Norm Van Brocklin (HOF), Steve Young (HOF) 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

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