To begin, let's get this out of the way: Donovan McNabb hasn't won three Super Bowls, nor has he even been to three. However, does anyone sincerely believe that McNabb's ever been surrounded with half the talent Troy Aikman had?
Aikman spent his entire career around fellow Hall members Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith who will be officially be inducted in August. McNabb has spent his with James Thrash and Brian Westbrook.
Westbrook's always been good, but he's definitely not the back that Smith was.
James Thrash? To even start comparing him to Irvin would be an insult.
And yes, my skin is crawling with all the Cowboy-love I just handed out.
But anyway, let's compare these two quarterbacks by the numbers.
Starting 165 games between 1989-2000, the six-time Pro Bowler threw for 32,942 yards, 165 touchdowns, and 141 interceptions. He completed 61.5 percent of his passes, had a quarterback rating of 81.6, and a .569 win percentage (94-71).
Aikman played on one of the best teams ever. The Cowboys were the team of the 90s, winning three Super Bowls with Aikman at the helm. Along with Smith and Irvin, he made up one of the most talented offenses since San Francisco's combination of Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, and Roger Craig in the 80s.
Aikman's best season came in 1992 when he threw for nearly 3,500 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions, completing nearly 64 percent of his passes and finishing with a quarterback rating of 89.5.
He capped off the regular season with a 13-3 mark and led the Cowboys to a dominating 52-17 Super Bowl victory over Buffalo. Aikman was named Super Bowl MVP after completing 22 of his 30 passes for 273 yards and four touchdowns.
With 142 starts—and counting—during his 11-year career, the six-time Pro Bowler has thrown for 32,873 yards, 216 touchdowns, and 100 interceptions. He's completed 59 percent of his passes, has a quarterback rating of 86.5, and a .633 win percentage (90-46-1).
McNabb's arguably led one of the most interesting careers of any quarterback in recent memory. He's led the Eagles to four division titles, five NFC Championship games, and one Super Bowl appearance. McNabb accomplished all of this with only two notable weapons—Brian Westbrook and Terrell Owens. Owens was only an Eagle for one-and-a-half seasons.
McNabb's best season came in 2004 when he became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 30 touchdowns and less than 10 interceptions (31 TDs, eight INTs). Along the way, McNabb also completed 64 percent of his passes, threw for 3,875 yards, and had a 104.7 quarterback rating.
He capped off the regular season with a 13-3 mark and led the Eagles to the Super Bowl where they fell short, losing 24-21 to New England—their third Super Bowl win in four years.
In that game, McNabb threw for 357 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions while being sacked four times. He was under under pressure all game, and Brian Westbrook only gave the Eagles 44 yards on the ground.
McNabb has the edge in passing touchdowns (216 to 165), interceptions (100 to 141), quarterback rating (86.5 compared to 81.6), win percentage (.633 to .569), and even has the added facet of being able to run—3,249 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns to Aikman's 1,016 and nine touchdowns.
McNabb also has one season with a 100+ quarterback rating compared to Aikman's zero, five seasons of 20-plus touchdowns—including one over 30—six seasons with less than 10 interceptions compared to Aikman's three, and despite talk of McNabb's injury problems, has played four seasons entirely while Aikman only accomplished that feat three times.
Aikman also threw more picks than touchdowns four times in his career. Outside of his rookie season, McNabb has never come close to committing that cardinal sin for quarterbacks.
Aikman tops McNabb in completion percentage (61.5 to 59), passing yards (by 69), and obviously, the Super Bowl rings that McNabb so desires.
However, let's also not forget that Aikman only played 12 years in the league, while McNabb is entering his 12th with no sign of slowing down. In fact, over the past three seasons, McNabb has thrown for more than 20 touchdowns twice, completed over 60 percent of his passes, and just last season has a quarterback rating of more than 90.
And I know what everyone is thinking, "That's all well and good, but Aikman has three rings compared to McNabb's freakin' big, fat goose egg."
However, as I said before, we can all agree that Aikman played on better teams with more talent. It was McNabb who made James Thrash and Todd Pinkston look like viable starting options. Can Aikman say he made Michael Irvin better?
To anyone who thinks McNabb's more impressive numbers are as a result of throwing the ball more than Aikman, he only has 31 more attempts than Aikman (4,746 to 4,715).
With a better running game, Hall of Fame receiver, 23 more starts, and one extra season, Aikman didn't put up McNabb-like numbers with only 31 fewer passing attempts than McNabb.
McNabb's thrown for 51 more touchdowns and 41 fewer interceptions, which leads me to the conclusion that he's a better quarterback than Aikman.
It's not being a homer. This comes without bias. It's simply comes after comparing the numbers, and situations both played in. Without a doubt, Aikman had a better supporting cast while McNabb's largely made gold from garbage.
Again, the lack of rings goes back to his supporting cast. It almost came together for McNabb in 2004 with the addition of Terrell Owens, but it wasn't enough without the running game to go with it. Not to mention, Owens was McNabb's only reliable target and had to make it through the playoffs without him.
The rings pushed Aikman into the status of a sure-fire Hall of Famer, but I don't think the lack of a ring should preclude McNabb's. He still has time to go after the ring and if he's successful, the question of him being in the Hall should be a no-brainer.
It's my belief that were he to retire tomorrow, he'd still one day find himself in the Hall.
But with a ring, it shouldn't take him more than 10 years post-retirement to have a bust of himself next to the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game
Article originally published at 2 Minutes to Midnight Green!