Brett, Brady, or Bradshaw: How To Best Tackle the NFL Quarterback Debate

David ArreolaSenior Analyst IJuly 24, 2009

The most entertaining and mind-tiring debates in sports are those over quarterbacks. Whether it is a good old fashion Top Ten Greatest list, or the ever-so-repeated Brady vs. Manning debate, many people have their two cents for quarterback debates.

I've seen just about every argument for every quarterback imaginable in my day. Rings over stats, stats over rings, blah, blah, blah. It's about time someone set the record straight and put out a list on what NFL quarterbacks should really be measured on. In order, mind you.

So here we go, this is my list, in order of importance, of what we should measure to determine a quarterback's greatness.

Intangibles....bleh...that word....

Before I start my official list, I feel like I should address the issue of intangibles. You know, leadership, durability, knowledge, all that good stuff. Well, I'm here to say that they are just icing on the cake of the argument. You can't honestly base a strong argument on intangibles.

If you are going to make an argument for a quarterback, make sure you have strong stats and facts before you whip out the can of intangibles.

It's like I say, the use of intangibles is similar to the use of glitter, it can make your argument look pretty, but if you use too much, it looks childish.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's move on to the official list of what really matters in determining a quarterback's greatness.

5. Individual Honors

Individual honors are pretty unimportant compared to some of the other things you could argue. MVP's and Pro Bowls are nice, but they don't mean much. I mean, Michael Vick went to four Pro Bowls...does anyone here think that is an accomplishment? No, because we all know the Pro Bowl is a popularity contest.

MVP's are a little more prestigious, but not too far from their Pro Bowl counterparts. Senior NFL writers across the nation vote for the league's MVP every year. They always vote for a quarterback, unless someone else had a monstrous season. Because there is a lot of...questions...surrounding the credibility of the MVP voters, the award itself is less prestigious.

Here are some of the names you may hear with strong individual honor arguments; Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner, etc.

4. Regular Season success

This is one of the more "ridiculed" points of an argument by other arguers. You all know what I mean, someone says 16-0 for Brady, the another says 18-1.

Regular season success is important, because it's how players are judged by their own team. You have to have a great regular season to make the playoffs, therefore the regular season means a lot.

I can't stand it when someone tells me "who cares if he plays well in the regular season, he doesn't win in the postseason." Uh, I do, and so does every other respected writer in the nation. I digress...

Don't focus too much on the regular season success argument, it will only get you so far. If the quarterback you are arguing for is only known for regular season success and virtually no success in the postseason, you are probably better off not replying....

Some names you may hear with strong regular season success arguments...

Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Donovan McNabb, Jim Kelly, Steve Young, Brett Favre, etc.

3. Performance in the clutch

This is one of the grayest areas in quarterback arguments. What really defines "performance in the clutch." Is it simply winning big games? Or is it making that jaw dropping throw on fourth down with :02 seconds left on the clock? Or is it bringing your team back from a ten point deficit?

It's all of the above. Anytime the quarterback is handed the opportunity to do something great for his team, that is a clutch moment.

Now, in regards to making an argument, performance in the clutch is huge. A quarterback cannot be considered great if he cannot perform for his team when he is needed most. If the quarterback you are making the argument for has a great history of performing in the clutch, stick close to it, and make sure the person you are debating with understands who's got that game winning touchdown.

Alas, it cannot hold you up for too long. As it is a very vague argument, an intelligent person can easily refute and/or redirect the debate.

Some names with strong arguments for performance in the clutch...Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Tom Brady, John Elway, etc.

2. Postseason success

We are at number two on my list, and we are now entering the realm of "irrefutable arguments." That means that nobody can deny these successes. Doesn't matter how you weigh their importance, you must respect and recognize these victories.

Post-season success is the ultimate goal in the NFL. While it is a team goal and not just the quarterback's goal, the quarterback is in the driver's seat.

Super Bowl championships fall under this category. I don't really have to go into detail about this one, because it is pretty obvious.

However, I must say be careful of how close you stick to this argument. If you get into the mode of: "Super Bowls are all that count, everything else is just extra worthless crap." You are in danger of making the argument an unpleasant experience. Nobody likes the guy that won't listen to another person's argument on the grounds of "I am right, there is no way I am wrong."

some names with strong post-season success arguments...
Otto Graham, Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Tom Brady, Troy Aikman, Bart Starr, etc.

1. Touchdowns

Everyone says: "the ultimate goal is winning Super Bowls."

My question to that is: "how do you go about doing that?"

The most important thing in football is the scoreboard. Therefore, the most important thing for a quarterback to do, is score points. Touchdown passes are the most important thing when measuring a quarterback's success. If you don't throw touchdowns, you aren't going to win games. Duh.

A quarterback is worthless if he isn't doing his part. The quarterback's job is to "efficiently run the offense." Nothing is more efficient than throwing touchdown passes.

I know I'm sounding like Captain Obvious here, but it's the truth. People make quarterback arguments too complicated with awards, wins, losses, turnovers, and worst of all other stats. The truth is, throwing touchdowns is most important for a quarterback. This is the FIRST thing a quarterback must do, then you can think about Super Bowls...

No reasonable person can sit back and say that the touchdown pass is not of the most severe importance.

Some names with strong touchdown arguments...Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Fran Tarkenton, John Elway, etc.

Questions? Comments or concerns? You know what to do....