Superbowl Quarterbacks: Is There Something In The Water?

Joseph Gelis@@JoetheWriterCorrespondent IJuly 15, 2009

9 Jan 1993: Quarterback Joe Montana of the San Francisco 49ers throws the ball during a playoff game against the Washington Redskins at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. The 49ers won the game, 20-13.

In watching Steve McNair being laid to rest in Southern Mississippi, I observed another Superbowl quarterback in attendance from this same neck of the woods; Brett Favre.

It dawned on me that two members of a very exclusive fraternity emerged from this humble, unassuming part of the south and it prompted me to do a little research.

There are only 52 people (alive and deceased), that have ever walked the face of this earth, who can claim membership in this club; quarterbacks who have led their respective teams to the Superbowl. I decided to focus my research on the demographics surrounding these 52 men, and came up with some interesting facts.


My initial impression in looking over this list is that it doesn't necessarily represent the 52 best who ever played the game, from top to bottom. Yeah, there are quite a few great ones in this group, but there are also a few who were in the right place at the right time, who were surrounded by a stellar supporting cast, and who had Lady Luck hanging out on their sideline. Regardless, they had to be at least good enough to navigate their team through the regular season and brutal playoffs to get there.


In looking at birthplace and location where these signal callers cut their gridiron teeth and matured, I noticed that several geographical pockets began to form that were Superbowl quarterback (SB-QB) dense. There were also areas, some surprising, that were very SB-QB scarce.


The largest pocket was found centered over Pennsylvania (8) with a dwindling tail extending across the Midwest through Michigan (2), Ohio (3), Indiana (2), Illinois (2), and Iowa (1). Five more were located to the East in New York (2) and New Jersey (3).


Another large pocket was contained within California (7) itself, and further up the coast in the Great Northwest, a small pocket was located in Washington (3).


What I found to be the most impressive pocket, by far, encompassed Louisiana (7), plus Favre and McNair by reaching a short distance across the boarder into south Mississippi (2). This relatively small pocket of nine SB-QBs is so impressive, because unlike the population dense regions of the Midwest, East and California, this area is relatively population scarce.


Actually, you could go about a stone's throw further east on the map and grab Stabler from Foley, Alabama and have a very impressive South Central Gulf Coast Pocket of Ten (10) SB-QB's, centered over Louisiana and tailing down to the southeast.


To add credence to this argument, Louisiana and south Mississippi, together comprise about 6 million people or roughly 2% of the US population. Yet this region has produced over 17% of the SB-QBs to date. This is nearly a 1:9 differential (% US Pop:% SB-QB).


In contrast, Pennsylvania inhabits 4% of the US population and has produced just over 15% of the SB-QBs (1:4). California commands 12% of US citizens and has only produced 13.4% SB-QBs (1:1).


What really surprised me is that Florida and Texas, both incredibly talent-rich states with regard to football, have produced none, zero, nada SB-QBs. At least Florida has three universities that have each turned out one out-of-state SB-QB each (Florida, Florida State and Miami). Texas is noticeably absent in this category also.


Some additional interesting facts:


    • Pittsburgh (Kelly, Marino, Unitas) and Shreveport (Bradshaw, Humphries, Woodley) are the only two US cities to produce three SB-QBs each. (I imagine Bradshaw loves this two city connection).

    • Louisiana is the only state to have two cities that have produced two or more SB-QBs, Shreveport and New Orleans (Manning and Manning)

    • Only one non-US native has guided a Superbowl team; Canadian Mark Rypien from Alberta. He, however, attended Washington State.

    • Two universities can claim 3 SB-QBs each. Alabama (Starr, Namath, Stabler), and Notre Dame (Lamonica, Theismann, Montana). Although Montana is my all-time favorite, I have to give the nod to the Crimson Tide. How do you not put that trio anywhere but on the top!!!

    • The Pac 10 can claim 9 members, the SEC (8), Big 10 (6), Big East (5), ACC (4) and Big 12 (1-Ouch!!!). Note: These schools didn't necessarily belong to these conferences at the time these QBs attended.

    • Smaller, non-BCS schools are well represented with 13.

    • “Joe's” leads the pack with 4, followed by “Jim's” (3), “Ken's” (2) and “Steve's” (2).

    • The only surname repeated, of course belong to Eli and Payton.


Naturally, all of this analysis is non-scientific, and may be written off by some as being purely coincidental, or a result of random happenstance. Having myself been born and raised smack dab in the middle of this South Central Gulf Coast Pocket, I like to think it is all due to some special mineral flowing through the underground aquifers and surface tributaries of this region. Regardless of the cause, you can't argue with the results.