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The Top 100 Quarterbacks In NFL History

Brendan MajevCorrespondent INovember 3, 2010

The Top 100 Quarterbacks In NFL History

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    It was a beautiful scene for New Orleans faithful, not all that long ago: The Saints, formerly the 'Aints, finally lifted the Vince Lombardi Trophy and were Super Bowl champions at the end of last season. Long years of suffering had ended, and what a celebration it was. Those people who were fortunate enough to make it down to "Lombardi Gras," as it was known, witnessed a celebration unlike any other.

    Arguably the biggest reason for the success of the Saints organization for the last few years had been the play of quarterback Drew Brees, who vaulted himself into the discussion of "greatest QB in the NFL" with the big win and removed himself from the Dan Marino-led list of men who played the position and did it well but never won an NFL title.

    The rings that are now worn by members of that Saints team make it difficult to argue that any other team was better than it was last year. It is also difficult to argue that Drew Brees wasn't the best QB in the league...last year.

    But a tall task—an almost impossible task, even—is ranking quarterbacks across time.

    I have ranked the top 100 quarterbacks in NFL history, and because I'm writing the article, I get the privilege of unilaterally deciding who was better than who. My opinions are not scientific, and while I have done a fair amount of research in putting this list together, I am 100 percent sure that no one else on this planet would have exactly the same list as me—chiefly because not everyone will use my criteria.

    Keep in mind that the only active players who rank highly on the countdown have enjoyed long and accomplished careers. I'm not averse to putting "young guns" on the list, but I won't jump Joe Flacco to No. 45 just because I'm a Ravens fan and think/hope/pray he will have a great career.

    As a general rule, things I value most on a player's resume are clutch plays and championships. I can appreciate a guy who lights up the stat sheet, but as a general rule, I tend to say, "So, if he was really that good, why didn't he win?"

    It might not be fair, and I'm not going to pretend that there's no bias at all in this article. But if you don't like my list, there are always spaces to comment and "write" buttons.

    Enjoy!

100. Aaron Brooks

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    RIC FELD/Associated Press

    Aaron Brooks played his college ball at the University of Virginia, and when he entered the league as a fourth-round draft pick, he was initially backing up Brett Favre and Matt Hasselbeck. Brooks played most of his career with the New Orleans Saints—he held most franchise passing records at the time of his retirement, though he also played for the Oakland Raiders. 2003 was statistically his best year.

    Brooks was really good when he was on, but he could also be really bad when he was off, as evidenced by the fact that he threw 22 interceptions in the 2001 season.

     

    Notable Stats

    56.5 percent completion percentage

    123 TD passes

    92 INT

    20,261 career passing yards

    78.5 passer rating

99. Babe Parilli

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    Associated Press

    Babe Parilli played mostly with the AFL's Boston Patriots in the 1960s and is a member of their all-decade team, though he won his Super Bowl ring while backing up Broadway Joe Namath in Super Bowl III.

     

    Notable Stats

    3 Pro Bowls

    46.6 percent completion percentage

    178 TD

    220 INT

    22,681 yards

    59.6 QB rating

98. Don Meredith

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    Ferd Kaufman/Associated Press

    Of all the good Cowboys quarterbacks, Don Meredith is probably the one who is most frequently forgotten. Meredith played for nine seasons under Tom Landry. Meredith was a great player who consistently led the Cowboys to good seasons, but he suffers in the ratings for his losses to Vince Lombardi's Packers in the 1966 and 1967 championship games—the latter being the famous "Ice Bowl" in Green Bay.

     

    Notable Stats

    50.7 percent career completion percentage

    135 TD passes

    111 INT

    17,199 passing yards

    74.8 passer rating

    3 Pro Bowls

    1 NFL Player of the Year (1966)

97. Chad Pennington

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The first modern quarterback to appear on this list, Chad Pennington spent most of his career with the New York Jets, though he now plays for the Miami Dolphins. He is a two-time NFL Comeback Player of the Year, having constantly dealt with adversity throughout his career, and he now backs up Chad Henne.

     

    Notable Stats

    66.1 percent completion percentage (best all-time)

    102 TD

    64 INT

    17,804 yards

    90.1 rating

96. Jeff Hostetler

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    George Rose/Getty Images

    Early in his career, Jeff Hostetler backed up Phil Simms for the New York Giants and became an NFL starter only after Simms was injured in a game in December 1990. "Hoss" quarterbacked the Giants team that was the beneficiary of the famous moment in Bills lore known simply as "Wide Right."

    Hostetler technically won a Super Bowl as a starting quarterback, but he lost the starting job to Phil Simms the next season and had trouble staying healthy, which eventually landed him with the Oakland Raiders and eventually the Washington Redskins.

     

    Notable Stats

    58.0 percent completion percentage

    94 TD

    71 INT

    16,430 yards

    80.5 rating

95. Jake Delhomme

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Before his nuclear six-interception meltdown against the Cardinals in the playoffs two years ago, Jake Delhomme was John Fox's quarterback. He took the Panthers to a Super Bowl, where they lost to the New England Patriots in one of the Patriots' three titles in a four-year span. While the significant part of his career is likely done, he's a feel-good story about a guy who played in NFL Europe, then finally landed a gig with the Saints before ending up in Carolina, where he played his best years.

     

    Notable Stats

    59.1 percent completion percentage

    123 TD

    94 INT

    19,892 yards

    82.1 rating

    1 Pro Bowl

94. Jim McMahon

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    Michael Buckner/Getty Images

    Jim McMahon is the closest thing the Chicago Bears have had to a starting quarterback since the days of Sid Luckman, and while some thought that Jay Cutler would be the answer, results indicate otherwise. Regardless, McMahon quarterbacked the Bears during the 1985 season, when the team was led by one of the best defenses in NFL history.

    McMahon spent the most significant years of his career with the Bears, but he also played for San Diego, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Arizona and Green Bay before he hung up his cleats.

     

    Notable Stats

    58.0 percent completion percentage

    100 TD

    90 INT

    18,148 yards

    78.2 rating

93. Steve Beuerlein

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    Craig Jones/Getty Images

    A classic "one-hit wonder," Steve Beuerlein was one of the league's best players in 1999, when he led the NFL with over 4,400 passing yards, setting many single-season franchise records with the Carolina Panthers.

    He played for five other teams during the course of his career and backed up Troy Aikman during one of the Cowboys' Super Bowl years. Still, the '99 season was so outstanding that it earned him a spot on the list.

     

    Notable Stats

    56.9 percent completion percentage

    147 TD

    112 INT

    24,046 yards

    80.3 rating

    1 Pro Bowl

92. Matt Schaub

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    A guy with a lot of upside, Matt Schaub is the first active player to appear on the list that has a real chance to move up, especially with the kind of talent around him on the Houston offense—most notably Andre Johnson and now Arian Foster. He won't move up very far if he continues to make me waste high picks on him in my fantasy draft, though...

    2009 was his best season—his first as a full-time starter, when he stayed healthy for all 16 games—and he made the Pro Bowl that year while lighting up the passing charts. He has the talent to move up, but bottom line: It's way too early for him to be any higher, despite a great season.

     

    Notable Stats

    65.0 percent completion percentage

    60 TD

    41 INT

    12,826 yards

    91.1 rating

    1 Pro Bowl

91. Charley Johnson

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    Herb Scharfman/Sports Imagery/Getty Images

    Charley Johnson played for the St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Oilers and Denver Broncos during his 15-year NFL career, and he's a member of the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame. Interestingly, showing just how much times have changed, Johnson continued his studies at Washington University in St. Louis while playing for the Cardinals, and he is now a professor of chemical engineering at New Mexico State. Not a bad second career.

     

    Notable Stats

    51.2 percent completion percentage

    170 TD

    181 INT

    24,410 yards

    69.2 rating

    1 Pro Bowl

90. Doug Flutie

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Here's a guess: Doug Flutie would be ranked higher if he had played in the NFL for a longer period of time. The former Boston College Eagle and Heisman Trophy winner might be best known for his famous Hail Mary against Miami in 1984, and he was part of a major quarterback controversy with Rob Johnson in Buffalo. Despite the fact that Flutie consistently played better, Johnson looked the part of an NFL quarterback with a prototypical NFL build.

    Flutie might be the best player in the history of the Canadian Football League, and I'd love to rank him higher because this guy is the man.

     

    Notable Stats

    54.7 percent completion percentage

    86 TD

    68 INT

    14,715 yards

    76.3 rating

    1 Pro Bowl

89. Carson Palmer

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    If you'd asked me a few years ago, I would have told you that Carson Palmer would have climbed higher on this list. He still has time to do so, especially now that he has Chad Johnson on his team catching passes, but it looks like the Bengals are still the Bungles when it comes to putting together back-to-back playoff seasons. He hasn't really been the same since the middle of the decade, when he had several good years.

    The former Heisman Trophy winner at USC has been a mainstay at QB for the Bengals since he was drafted.

     

    Notable Stats

    63.2 percent completion percentage

    128 TD

    80 INT

    18,274 yards

    87.9 rating

    2 Pro Bowls

88. Marc Bulger

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    It wasn't going to be easy for the next quarterback in line to continue the "Greatest Show on Turf" once the stars left the Rams. That task fell to Marc Bulger. He looks reinvigorated since joining the Ravens, and understandably so—he seems to have tired of all the losing in St. Louis.

    It was good for both parties to move on, with the Rams drafting their franchise QB in Sam Bradford, who, if he continues playing like he has so far this season, will make his way onto this list eventually.

    Nevertheless, Bulger has a lightning-fast release and shouldn't be dismissed when he is under center—the guy has enough talent to make it go when he's surrounded by enough weapons. It's a luxury for the Ravens to have this guy on their roster backing up Joe Flacco.

     

    Notable Stats

    62.1 percent completion percentage

    122 TD

    93 INT

    22,814 yards

    84.4 rating

87. Kerry Collins

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Collins is a former No. 1 overall pick by the Carolina Panthers out of Penn State and has played for several teams throughout his career, including when he started for the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV, where the Giants were demolished by the best defense in league history, the 2000 Ravens. (Had to get that in there somehow, or I'd be a bad Ravens fan.)

    Collins' best asset is his tremendous longevity, and he's been a serviceable starter for his entire career—most recently when the Titans were 13-3 but lost to the Wild Card Baltimore Ravens as the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs (there are those Ravens again, sorry).

    Aside from having a mental block against Baltimore, Collins has been in the league for a long time, and you can do a lot worse than this guy under center. Of course, you can also do better, and that's why he's only No. 88 on the countdown.

     

    Notable Stats

    55.8 percent completion percentage

    197 TD

    190 INT

    38,618 yards

    73.5 rating

    2 Pro Bowls

86. Steve Bartkowski

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    George Rose/Getty Images

    I had to do some digging to find out who Steve Bartkowski was, but I was impressed by what I saw. Bartkowski played in the league 11 years, the first 10 with the Atlanta Falcons before finishing his career with the Los Angeles Rams. He's also a former No. 1 overall pick in the draft out of UC Berkeley.

    Just shows you exactly how young I am. He might deserve to be higher, but it's hard for me to rank a guy I've never heard of very highly...

     

    Notable Stats

    55.9 percent completion percentage

    156 TD

    144 INT

    24,124 yards

    75.4 rating

85. Steve DeBerg

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    While he's a guy who some might rank higher, the fact that Steve DeBerg was frequently a backup quarterback hurts him on my list. In fairness, the guy backed up Joe Montana, John Elway, Steve Young and a few others appearing in the top category. Still, if he'd been that good, teams wouldn't have drafted players to replace him...so he's here at No. 86.

     

    Notable Stats

    57.2 percent completion percentage

    196 TD

    204 INT

    34,321 yards

    74.2 rating

    NFL record for lowest interception percentage in 1990

84. Jeff George

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    Rogers Photo Archive/Getty Images

    One of the poster boys for prima donnas in the NFL and a former No. 1 overall pick in 1990 by the Indianapolis Colts, Jeff George was simply in the NFL a long time. He had all the physical tools anyone could ask for, and yet he simply couldn't put it all together. Even so, his immense talent led teams to repeatedly take chances on him, which allowed him to put up big numbers. George played for seven teams in a 14-year career.

     

    Notable Stats

    57.9 percent completion percentage

    154 TD

    113 INT

    27,602 yards

    80.4 rating

83. Tony Romo

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    Brandon Wade/Associated Press

    He's done for the year, but Tony Romo has put up pretty decent numbers during his time in the NFL. He isn't exactly what you would call a "clutch" quarterback, having famously screwed up a hold in the playoffs that cost the Cowboys the game against the Seahawks; however, it was undeniable that any chance the Cowboys had to save their season ended with Romo's injury. He could move up the list with several more good seasons.

     

    Notable Stats

    64.1 percent completion percentage

    118 TD

    62 INT

    16,650 yards

    95.5 rating

    3 Pro Bowls

82. Chris Chandler

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    BOB GALBRAITH/Associated Press

    Chris Chandler is another guy who makes the list primarily because of his longevity—he played in the NFL for a whopping 17 years at the QB position. He was never especially remarkable and was eventually replaced by Michael Vick—who the Falcons drafted No. 1 overall after trading with the Chargers, who got some guy named LaDainian Tomlinson at No. 5 overall and some guy named Drew Brees at No. 32 overall.

    Chandler was the Falcons starting quarterback during John Elway's second Super Bowl win—not that many people remember much more than the "Dirty Bird" dance from that Falcons team.

     

    Notable Stats

    58.1 percent completion percentage

    170 TD

    146 INT

    28,484 yards

    79.1 rating

    2 Pro Bowls

81. Matt Hasselbeck

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Matt Hasselbeck, as many NFL fans know, is the Seattle Seahawks starting quarterback, and the guy is in the twilight of his career. Still, his career has been a long one, and Hasselbeck has provided stability at the QB position—something that isn't very easy to find (just ask the Cardinals).

    Hasselbeck has been to a Super Bowl, where his Seahawks lost to the Steelers (and interestingly the referee in that game recently admitted that he blew a few calls in that game in favor of Pittsburgh, not that it matters). He's a player who has been solid but has almost certainly topped out on the list—unless, of course, he manages to lead his team to a Super Bowl title before he retires.

    Doesn't seem very likely coming out of the NFC West this year.

     

    Notable Stats

    60.0 percent completion percentage

    170 TD

    117 INT

    26,578 yards

    83.3 rating

    3 Pro Bowls

80. Jim Harbaugh

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    Paul Sakuma/Associated Press

    Better known these days as the head coach for the Stanford Cardinal, Jim Harbaugh played for 15 seasons in the NFL before beginning his coaching career. He frequently led his teams to come-from-behind victories, earning himself the label "Captain Comeback," a title Roger Staubach earned before him. He was a solid but unspectacular player.

     

    Notable Stats

    58.8 percent completion percentage

    129 TD

    117 INT

    26,288 yards

    77.6 rating

    1 Pro Bowl

79. Danny White

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    The other "forgotten" Cowboys quarterback is Danny White, the guy who had the misfortune of playing between the tenures of two-time champion Roger Staubach and three-time champion Troy Aikman.

    Nevertheless, White had a solid career and, generally speaking, kept the Cowboys in the realm of respectability while they waited for their return to prominence. He did win a Super Bowl ring, but it came while he was backing up Staubach in Super Bowl XII. From 1980-82, White's Cowboys lost three consecutive NFC championships, and in 1983, White had what was statistically his best season.

     

    Notable Stats

    59.7 percent completion percentage

    155 TD

    132 INT

    21,959 yards

    81.7 rating

    1 Pro Bowl

78. Greg Landry

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    Bob Verlin/Getty Images

    Greg Landry was the 11th overall pick in the 1968 draft and spent most of his career with the Detroit Lions before finishing his career with the Baltimore Colts and then the Chicago Bears. As a passer, he was good but not great; however, he was a dual-threat quarterback, at least for his day, rushing for 500 yards in a season twice in his career and rushing for 21 touchdowns.

     

    Notable Stats

    55.5 percent completion percentage

    98 TD

    103 INT

    16,052 yards

    72.9 rating

    1 Pro Bowl

77. Michael Vick

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Yeah, I know; Michael Vick's career numbers aren't that great. Well, Joe Namath's numbers aren't that great, either, as far as his career goes, and Namath is in the Hall of Fame. From that logic, I figure I'm within my rights to bump the league's most polarizing player into the top 80.

    Vick has gained limitless notoriety through the dog fighting ring and his subsequent two years in jail. And yet, he's the prototypical dual-threat quarterback, and even today, he might still be the league's toughest player to scheme—especially now that, so far during his tenure in Philly, he's changed the plans of the Eagles brass and earned the starting job over supposed-heir-apparent Kevin Kolb.

    He's also one of the most electrifying players in league history.

     

    Notable Stats

    54.1 percent completion percentage

    78 TD passing

    52 INT

    12,341 passing yards

    80.5 passer rating

    4,094 rushing yards

    24 TD rushing

    3 Pro Bowls

    First player to throw for and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season (2006)

    47.6 career rushing yards/game average, first all-time for QB

76. Neil O'Donnell

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    Vincent Laforet/Getty Images

    Neil O'Donnell's major claim to fame, statistically, is that he retired with the lowest interception rate of any quarterback in NFL history, though he has now relinquished that title. Of course, his claim to fame in fans' memories are those two crucial interceptions he threw to Cowboys defensive back Larry Brown in Super Bowl XXX that were largely responsible for the Cowboys' victory over the Steelers.

    O'Donnell played for the Bengals, Jets and Titans after his time in Pittsburgh.

     

    Notable Stats

    57.8 percent completion percentage

    120 TD

    68 INT

    21,690 yards

    81.8 rating

    1 Pro Bowl

75. Bill Wade

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    Robert Riger/Getty Images

    Bill Wade's major claim to fame is that he quarterbacked the NFL champion Chicago Bears in 1963. He appeared in two Pro Bowls: the first with the Los Angeles Rams, who drafted him with the "bonus" draft pick that no longer exists in today's NFL draft, and the latter during his title season with the Bears. Try to dig up more information on him; I dare you. It's more difficult than it should be for any title-winning QB.

     

    Notable Stats

    54.3 percent completion percentage

    124 TD

    134 INT

    18,530 yards

    72.2 rating

    2 Pro Bowls

74. Steve Grogan

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    George Rose/Getty Images

    Steve Grogan played in the NFL for 15 seasons, all with the New England Patriots, from 1975-90. He quarterbacked the Patriots during the 1978 season, during which that Patriots team set a record for total team rushing yardage that still stands today (3,156 yards). Grogan ran for over 500 yards and had five rushing TDs himself during that season, and he wasn't afraid to take off and run. He is actually tied for fourth with Randall Cunningham and Robin Tote for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.

     

    Notable Stats

    52.3 percent completion percentage

    182 passing TD

    208 INT

    26,886 passing yards

    69.6 rating

    2,164 rushing yards

    35 rushing TD

    Single-season record for rushing TD in a season (12)

73. Billy Kilmer

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    Associated Press

    Kilmer is another guy that makes me glad I did my diligence. By today's standards his numbers aren't that good, but he compares most favorably with other players of his era. Kilmer was selected 11th overall in the NFL draft (39th overall in the AFL draft) out of UCLA. He began his career with the 49ers before being selected in the 1967 expansion draft by a new expansion team, the New Orleans Saints. Finally, he finished his playing career with the Washington Redskins.

     

    Notable Stats

    53.1 percent completion percentage

    152 TD

    146 INT

    20,496 passing yards

    71.6 rating

    1 Pro Bowl

72. Joe Ferguson

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    Rogers Photo Archive/Getty Images

    Probably the best QB in Bills history not named Jim Kelly, Joe Ferguson played 17 years in the NFL, the first 11 with the Bills before three years with the Detroit Lions, two with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and one with the Indianapolis Colts in Jeff George's rookie season.

    Ferguson's best year was probably in 1975, when he threw 25 touchdown passes to tie for the league high that year (Fran Tarkenton was the other). Ferguson wore the No. 12 for the Bills, as Jim Kelly did following Ferguson's departure.

     

    Notable Stats

    52.4 percent completion percentage

    196 TD

    209 INT

    29,817 yards

    68.4 rating

71. Norm Snead

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    Focus On Sport/Getty Images

    One of the more unknown four-time Pro Bowlers in league history, especially as QBs go, is Norm Snead, who was drafted by the Washington Redskins before playing with Philadelphia, Minnesota, the New York Giants, and San Francisco before he retired. Snead played in the league for 15 years. In so far as there were "blockbuster" trades in 1964, the trade that brought him to Philadelphia in exchange for Sonny Jurgenson probably qualifies.

     

    Notable Stats

    52.3 percent completion percentage

    196 TD

    257 INT

    30,797 yards

    65.5 rating

    4 Pro Bowls

70. Jim Everett

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Despite the "phantom sack," Jim Everett does indeed appear on the countdown at No. 70. (Just google Everett's confrontation with that douche bag Jim Rome if you're interested in some drama.) In any event, following the 1989 game in which Everett pretty much got killed by the 49ers defensive front for the entire game, Everett was perceived by many as someone who shied away from contact. Nevertheless, he had a tremendously productive career, ranking 25th all time in TD passes. After seven years with the LA Rams, "Chris" finished up his career with the New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers.

     

    Notable Stats

    57.7 percent completion percentage

    203 TD

    175 INT

    34,837 yards

    78.6 rating

    1 Pro Bowl

69. Eli Manning

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    If you listen to a lot of NFL analysts these days, they seem ready to rank Eli much higher up this list already, though I will readily admit that he very well could climb with greater production. Eli is basically a "one hit wonder" as well, defeating the Patriots in arguably the greatest upset in NFL history, and he's largely failed in clutch situations since. However, the sheer magnitude of that one upset earns the youngest Manning a relatively high spot compared to most active QBs.

     

    Notable Stats

    57.7 percent completion percentage

    139 TD

    99 INT

    19,068 yards

    79.3 rating

    1 Pro Bowl

68. Milt Plum

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    Robert Riger/Getty Images

    During his 13-year career, Milt Plum played for the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants. It is especially important to note that while during most of Plum's career there was no formula for "QB rating," as the formula was developed in 1973.

    However, retroactively applied to previous seasons, Plum's 1960 season earned a rating of 110.4, which was the highest of any quarterback prior to 1989, by which time the NFL had started to adopt several rules favoring the offense and in particular the passing game.

     

    Notable Stats

    54.0 percent completion percentage

    122 TD

    127 INT

    17,536 yards

    72.2 rating

    2 Pro Bowls

67. Jake Plummer

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Jake "the Snake" Plummer first earned his proverbial call sign for his elusiveness while playing for Arizona State University, and the nickname stuck with him throughout his college career. Plummer was drafted in the second round, 42nd overall, by the Arizona Cardinals, and he played there from 1997 until 2002.

    He signed with the Denver Broncos before the 2003 season, and in Denver he enjoyed his best seasons as a professional before being traded to Tampa Bay following his replacement as the starting QB by then-rookie QB Jay Cutler.

    However, Plummer decided to retire rather than play with the Buccaneers. Plummer's best season was probably in 2005, when he broke a few significant franchise passing records set by the great John Elway; however, Plummer always displayed a tendency to throw interceptions in bunches, which led to the Broncos' decision to draft his eventual successor, Cutler, in the first round.

     

    Notable Stats

    57.1 percent completion percentage

    161 TD

    161 INT

    29,253 yards

    74.6 rating

66. Jeff Blake

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    TOM UHLMAN/Associated Press

    Not exactly a name that jumps to mind when you think of quarterbacks from the '90s, but Blake was a pretty good one for several years in Cincinnati while he was throwing to Carl Pickens and Darnay Scott. The Bungles couldn't do much beyond throw the ball, however, so much of Blake's efforts were wasted. Even so, the man enjoyed a surprisingly successful career, and if the 90's were the "lost decade" of Bengals football, Blake was the major bright spot. He only made one Pro Bowl, but playing with the Bungles it's hard to make a lot of those...

     

    Notable Stats

    56.4 percent completion percentage

    134 passing TD

    99 INT

    21,711 passing yards

    78.0 rating

    14 rushing TD

    2,027 rushing yards

    1 Pro Bowl

65. Vinny Testaverde

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    A former No. 1 overall pick in the 1987 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the former Heisman Trophy winner from "the U" was a bust there and ended up with the Cleveland Browns, who then moved to Baltimore to become the Ravens prior to the 1996 season. He played for the Jets, Cowboys, Patriots, and Panthers after his time in Baltimore.

    You wouldn't necessarily think of him as a great quarterback, but the man played in the league for 21 years, and he piled up tons of statistics. To be fair, Testaverde does hold the record for most losses as a starting quarterback (123), but frankly, anyone who can suit up and play decent football after 21 seasons in the NFL as Testaverde did with the Panthers impresses me.

     

    Notable Stats

    56.5 percent completion percentage

    275 TD

    267 INT

    46,233 yards

    75.0 rating

    2 Pro Bowls

64. George Blanda

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    Associated Press

    The late George Blanda is next on the list, and he earns such a high spot because of his longevity at the professional level. His 26 seasons in the AFL and NFL are the most all time for a professional football player. Blanda played for the Bears, Oilers, and Raiders in his long career. Blanda holds the record for most extra points kicked in NFL history, and might have been a better kicker than he was a quarterback.

    The former 12th round pick out of Kentucky retired for the first time following the 1958 season when Bears owner George Halas demanded that he only be used as a kicker; however, with the formation of the AFL in 1960, Blanda began playing for the Houston Oilers as both a QB and a K, and he had his best years in Houston before finishing his career with the Oakland Raiders as a kicker and a backup to Daryle Lamonica.

     

    Notable Stats

    47.7 percent completion percentage

    236 TD

    277 INT

    26,920 yards

    60.6 rating

    4 time AFL All-Star

    2 time All-Pro

63. Brian Sipe

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    George Rose/Getty Images

    Not too many 13th round picks end up as NFL MVPs at some point, but that's just what Brian Sipe did. Quarterback of the Cleveland Browns from 1974-83, Sipe's career was okay, maybe above average, with one notable exception: the 1980 season. Sipe threw for 4,132 yards and 30 touchdowns, leading the Browns into the playoffs as the "Kardiac Kids" since the Browns had won so many games by coming from behind at the last minute.

    In the AFC divisional playoff against the Oakland Raiders, the Browns trailed by two points and were within range for a short field goal attempt. However, in the blistering cold, the Browns chose to pass... and Sipe was intercepted in the end zone trying to get the ball to Hall of Fame TE Ozzie Newsome. The play call, "Red Right 88," was immortalized in Cleveland football lore, and since then, the Browns have been among the unluckiest teams in the NFL.

     

    Notable Stats

    56.5 percent completion percentage

    154 TD

    149 INT

    23,713 yards

    74.8 rating

    1 Pro Bowl

    1 NFL MVP (1980)

62. Brad Johnson

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    PAUL SAKUMA/Associated Press

    Johnson played in the NFL for 17 seasons, most recently with the Dallas Cowboys in 2007, though he played with the Vikings, Redskins, and Bucs before joining the Cowboys for his final season.

    Johnson went over 3,000 yards passing in one season five times during his career, including a 4,000 yard season with the Washington Redskins, and he also won one Super Bowl as quarterback of the Bucs. He was never a show stopper at the position, evidenced by the fact that he constantly switched teams; however, you could win with this guy- and the Bucs did just that, along with a great Derrick Brooks-led defense.

     

    Notable Stats

    61.7 percent completion percentage

    166 TD

    122 INT

    29,054 yards

    82.5 rating

    2 Pro Bowls

61. Aaron Rodgers

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Maybe it's a stretch to put Rodgers this high, especially given that he's only in his third full season as an NFL starter. However, the guy can flat out play. A major statistic that I look at for modern quarterbacks is interceptions, and Rodgers simply doesn't throw very many of them.

    On top of that, the guy was forced to demonstrate remarkable mental fortitude- remember, he was the guy who had to replace BRETT FAVRE in Green Bay. Rodgers is in great position to move up; he's almost a lock to move into the top 40 some day, barring injury. But it's just too early- try me again in five years.

     

    Notable Stats

    63.4 percent completion percentage

    68 TD

    27 INT

    10,034 yards

    96.4 rating

    1 Pro Bowl

60. Ken O'Brien

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    Ray Stubblebine/Associated Press

    Ken O'Brien played for 11 seasons in the NFL as part of the famed Quarterback Class of 1983, and he was taken three picks before Dan Marino. While he didn't produce like Marino, O'Brien was pretty good in his own right, quarterbacking the Jets for the next ten seasons. He is the only QB to ever throw for more than 400 yards and keep a perfect 158.3 QB rating in the same game; he also combined with Marino to throw for over 900 passing yards in the same game, another NFL record.

     

    Notable Stats

    58.6 percent completion percentage

    128 TD

    98 INT

    25,094 yards

    80.4 rating

    2 Pro Bowls

59. Daunte Culpepper

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    The fact that his career has gone continually downhill since the early 2000s has made some people forget the few seasons where Culpepper was among the best passers in the NFL. Beginning in 2000, Culpepper terrorized the NFL with his immense physical talent.

    Randy Moss, in his first stint with the Vikings at that time, said following the 2000 season that Culpepper was one of the most physically gifted quarterbacks he'd ever played with. Culpepper wasn't fundamentally sound, occasionally throwing across his body or into traffic, but he had a great supporting cast headlined by Moss, and so he did pretty well for himself. Culpepper has never been the same since leaving Minnesota, but he had more than just one really good season. Besides, anybody who has appeared on the cover of Madden had to be pretty good at some point!

     

    Notable Stats

    63.0 percent completion percentage

    149 passing TD

    106 INT

    24,153 passing yards

    87.8 rating

    34 rushing TD

    2,652 rushing yards

    26.1 career yards/game rushing average, 4th all time for QB

    3 Pro Bowls

58. Neil Lomax

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    Mark Elias/Associated Press

    Neil Lomax's nine year career, all with the Cardinals (both the St. Louis and Phoenix versions), was occasionally brilliant and occasionally warranted benching him. The roller coaster ride with Lomax was at its best in his Pro Bowl seasons, and his 4,614 passing yards in 1984 is good for 12th all time right now, though recent trends suggest that more and more quarterbacks will be hitting the 4,000 passing yard barrier in coming years. Lomax's career was shortened by his nagging need for hip replacement surgery, which he underwent in 1991.

     

    Notable Stats

    57.6 percent completion percentage

    136 TD

    90 INT

    22,771 yards

    82.7 rating

    2 Pro Bowls

57. Daryle Lamonica

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    Tony Tomsic/Getty Images

    Just look at the numbers. Lamonica was a winner, and it's hard to penalize him for not winning a Super Bowl against a stacked team like Vince Lombardi's Packers in Super Bowl II. Because AFL/NFL stats don't always translate exactly, his strong career winning percentage really helps him on this list. However, conversely, the lack of a Super Bowl win hurts him.

     

    Notable Stats

    49.5 percent completion percentage

    164 TD

    138 INT

    19,154 yards

    72.9 rating

    3 time AFL All-Star

    2 time AFL MVP (1967, 1969)

    2 Pro Bowls

    78.4% NFL career winning percentage, 2nd all time for QBs

    90% AFL career winning percentage, 1st all time for QBs

56. Ron Jaworski

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    George Rose/Getty Images

    Known as "Jaws" is probably a better commentator than he was an NFL quarterback, but the fact of the matter is that he knew what he was doing under center. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams, but his best playing days came with the Philadelphia Eagles, the second team he played for, where he was coached by Dick Vermeil. Jaworski was the centerpiece of the Eagles team that went to Super Bowl XV, where Philly was defeated by the Oakland Raiders. After leaving Philadelphia, Jaworski played with Miami and finished his career in Kansas City.

     

    Notable Stats

    53.1 percent completion percentage

    179 TD

    164 INT

    28,190 yards

    72.8 rating

    1 Pro Bowl

55. Jeff Garcia

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Ah, Jeff Garcia. The perfect example of a quarterback that teams wouldn't use as their franchise guy because he didn't look like an NFL quarterback. After several good seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, he has played for several NFL teams: Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, and Oakland. He has never been an elite quarterback, but he was certainly a good one for a long period of time, often labeled as "too old" only to promptly have a pretty good season. He currently plays in the UFL, though I'd bet he's still better than most backup quarterbacks in the NFL. Lots of TDs to not a lot of interceptions and several Pro Bowls... I'm still trying to figure out how this guy didn't stick anywhere.

     

    Notable Stats

    61.6 percent completion percentage

    161 TD

    83 INT

    25,537 yards

    87.5 rating

    4 Pro Bowls

54. Trent Green

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Trent Green was supposed to be the guy running the "Greatest Show on Turf" that eventually brought home a Super Bowl to St. Louis. Instead, Green got hurt and was out for the season... which made way for some guy named Kurt Warner who had been bagging groceries a year before at the same time.

    Still, despite not being the guy on the field for the record-breaking year, Green had a long and largely successful career in the league, though he ended up with the Kansas City Chiefs during his Pro Bowl seasons. He now works as an analyst for FOX sports.

     

    Notable Stats

    60.6 percent completion percentage

    162 TD

    114 INT

    28,475 yards

    86.0 rating

    2 Pro Bowls

53. Bernie Kosar

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    Earl Richardson/Getty Images

    Kosar was involved in some controversy with respect to how he entered the league, but was in the rare position to choose his team- in this case, the Cleveland Browns. This made him an immediate fan favorite. Kosar did not have a prototypical build for an NFL quarterback, and tended to throw sidearm rather than with a conventional over-the-top motion.

    However, he enjoyed a long and successful career with the Browns, although the Browns' bad luck from Red Right 88 continued all through Kosar's career as well. In two successive AFC championships, Kosar's Browns lost to the Denver Broncos, first thanks to The Drive, when John Elway drove the Broncos 98 yards for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, and then thanks to The Fumble, when Earnest Byner lost the ball on Denver's three-yard line.

    By his own admission, Kosar isn't over the events of those two plays even today, and even after winning a Super Bowl ring as Troy Aikman's backup in Dallas. Kosar finished his career in Miami as the backup to Dan Marino.

     

    Notable Stats

    59.3 percent completion percentage

    124 TD

    87 INT

    23,301 yards

    81.8 rating

    1 Pro Bowl

52. Doug Williams

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    Nate Fine/Getty Images

    He was the first black starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl, and to this day remains the only black starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl. It isn't necessarily something that the NFL likes to talk about, but it bears repeating. In any case, Williams turned in a strong performance in that game, though he was aided by the ultimate one shot wonder, Redskins RB Timmy Smith, who had a monster game in the Redskins' 42-10 rout of the Denver Broncos, another blowout loss for John Elway, who at this point had yet to win a Super Bowl title. Williams's victory was without doubt the high point of his career; he dealt with injuries afterward and eventually lost his starting job to Mark Rypien.

     

    Notable Stats

    49.5 percent completion percentage

    100 TD

    93 INT

    16,998 yards

    69.5 rating

    Super Bowl XXII MVP

51. Drew Bledsoe

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Drew Bledsoe was famous for one thing: being a water buffalo in the pocket. "The Immobile One" was the No. 1 overall draft choice by the New England Patriots in 1993, and he remained with the team until 2001 when he was hit by Jets LB Mo Lewis and was injured. The guy who replaced him in New England still plays QB there... and you all remember him. After leaving New England, Bledsoe played with the Buffalo Bills and then with the Dallas Cowboys before retiring.

     

    Notable Stats

    57.2 percent completion percentage

    251 TD

    206 INT

    44,611 yards

    77.1 rating

    4 Pro Bowls

50. Philip Rivers

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    Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    The last man in the top 50, Philip Rivers seems to be headed in the direction of another great Chargers QB, Hall of Famer Dan Fouts. (As of Week 8 this season, Rivers was on pace to break the all-time single season passing yardage record. And his team is 3-5.)

    Every season, Rivers just keeps slinging the ball around, and frankly it doesn't seem to matter who is catching it because Rivers just makes it all go, and that's exactly what he's been doing since he became San Diego's starter. He's tough as nails, too- he underwent secret surgery to repair a torn ACL before the Chargers' AFC championship game AND PLAYED IN THE GAME. The Chargers lost, but the gutty performance certainly vouches for the guy's toughness. Exactly how high Rivers can climb is yet to be seen, but I'd guess he'll land in the top 25 so long as he adds an NFL title somewhere along the way.

     

    Notable Stats

    63.3 percent completion percentage

    121 TD

    52 INT

    17,600 yards

    96.3 rating

    2 Pro Bowls

49. John Hadl

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    Charles Aqua Viva/Getty Images

    It's hard not to make the list when you're throwing to a guy as talented as Lance Alworth the first AFL player to make the Hall of Fame, and to his credit, Hadl led the AFL in passing in both 1965 and 1968. He played most of his career with the San Diego Chargers, but was traded to the Los Angeles Rams in 1973 before finishing his career with Green Bay and finally with Houston.

     

    Notable Stats

    50.4 percent completion percentage

    244 TD

    268 INT

    33,503 yards

    67.4 rating

    4 time AFL All Star

    2 Pro Bowls

48. Jim Hart

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    Nate Fine/Getty Images

    Jim Hart was an undrafted rookie out of Southern Illinois in 1966, and joined the St. Louis Cardinals, where he would be a mainstay at the quarterback position until 1983 before playing one final season with the Washington Redskins in 1984. His best years were 1974-1977, when he went to four straight Pro Bowls and his Cardinals made the playoffs twice. Still, the Cardinals didn't make very many deep playoff runs during Hart's career, which hurts his ranking on this list.

     

    Notable Stats

    51.1 percent completion percentage

    209 TD

    247 INT

    34,665 yards

    66.6 rating

    4 Pro Bowls

47. 'Broadway' Joe Namath

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    Going just by the numbers, Namath really wasn't much of a player outside of a few good seasons, and some people would want to rank him higher. Hell, it wouldn't be that much of a stretch to put Rivers ahead of Namath right now... but it's hard to bump Joe down too far, even if I would bump him out of the Hall of Fame left to my own devices.

    The arguments about what Namath did for the game are all completely valid, and make him a lock to stay on this list so long as the NFL exists, though he will fall as time goes on- his stats really don't support his mythical status. But of course, there was "The Guarantee." Usually when somebody opens his mouth it bites him in the behind, but judging from this photograph, Namath seemed pretty happy with the result- and the Jets' win over the Colts in Super Bowl III is one of the biggest upsets in sports history.

     

    Notable Stats

    50.1 percent completion percentage

    173 TD

    220 INT

    27,663 yards

    65.5 rating

    5 time AFL All-Star

    1 Pro Bowl

    2 AFL MVPs (1968, 1969)

46. Dave Krieg

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Krieg, pictured here as a member of the Houston Oilers, his last team, spent the first 11 years of his career in Seattle. Krieg ranks very highly in many career passing categories, but his teams rarely went deep into the playoffs, and indeed his postseason statistics are generally worse than those in the regular season. That happens to bother me quite a bit- and so while Krieg undoubtedly deserves a spot, the fact that he played relatively poorly in comparison to his abilities when the chips were down hurts him on the list.

     

    Notable Stats

    58.5 percent completion percentage

    261 passing TD

    199 INT

    38,147 passing yards

    81.5 rating

    13 rushing TD

    1,261 rushing yards

    3 Pro Bowls

45. Rich Gannon

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Gannon had an above average career in the NFL, and appeared in the Super Bowl against Tampa, which the Raiders lost. Gannon had a successful career but was never able to actually win a Super Bowl championship. His legacy is hurt by the fact that his two best teams, the 2000 and 2002 Raiders, lost to two outstanding defenses deep in the playoffs.

    To be fair, he was injured in the 2000 AFC championship against the eventual champion Baltimore Ravens, but in 2002, Gannon had a Jake Delhomme-like performance, throwing five interceptions against the Bucs. Gannon never had the biggest arm in the game, but he had some good numbers and warrants a place in the top 50.

     

    Notable Stats

    60.2 percent completion percentage

    180 TD

    104 INT

    28,743 yards

    84.7 rating

    4 Pro Bowls

    1 NFL MVP (2002)

44. Bert Jones

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    Jeff Hinckley/Associated Press

    Bert Jones was selected second overall in the 1973 NFL draft by the Baltimore Colts to be the eventual successor to all-everything QB Johnny Unitas, and he played at Memorial Stadium for eight seasons. The Colts tended to mirror their success of their young quarterback; when his play dipped, so, too, did the Colts' fortunes. Jones's best season was 1976, when he won the NFL MVP award and had a passer rating of over 100, one of only three players to have a season with a QB rating of at least 100 during the 1970s (along with Ken Stabler and Roger Staubach).

    It is interesting to note that Jones is occasionally described as someone who would be one of the better players ever, had he been in possession of a better supporting cast; this view is held by former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi. Furthermore, current New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick has previously described Jones as the best "pure passer" that he ever saw. Jones played in Baltimore through 1981 before playing part of the 1982 season with the Los Angeles Rams, when he suffered a career-ending neck injury.

    Jones left the Colts and soon afterward, without a franchise quarterback for the first time in many years, the Baltimore Colts packed up and left for Indianapolis.

     

    Notable Stats

    56.1 percent completion percentage

    124 TD

    101 INT

    18,190 yards

    78.2 rating

    1 Pro Bowl

    1 NFL MVP (1976)

43. Archie Manning

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    Anonymous/Associated Press

    Today, Archie Manning is perhaps best known as the father of current NFL quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning, but Archie was a pretty good player in his own right. Like Bert Jones, it is sometimes difficult to figure out exactly how good Manning was simply because there was so little talent around him. He was the only real superstar of the expansion New Orleans Saints.

    Manning, however, did assemble some pretty impressive stats... including having the worst win percentage of any QB in NFL history with at least 100 starts, going 35-101-3 (26.3%). It is a testament to exactly how good Manning was that he made two Pro Bowls near the end of his tenure with the Saints.

     

    Notable Stats

    55.2 percent completion percentage

    125 TD

    173 INT

    23,911 yards

    67.1 rating

    2 Pro Bowls

42. Joe Theismann

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    The opposite of Ron Jaworski, Joe Theismann was a better quarterback than television analyst; he now works for NFL Network. Interestingly, Theismann played his first three professional seasons with the CFL's Toronto Argonauts after failing to agree on contract terms with the Miami Dolphins, who had drafted him in the fourth round out of Notre Dame. Theismann's Redskins won Super Bowl XVII, but failed to defend their title in Super Bowl XVIII the next year. Theismann was notable for wearing only a single-bar face mask that would not obstruct his vision throughout his career, and is perhaps most remembered for how his career ended: Hall of Fame LB Lawrence Taylor snapped Theismann's leg in half on a Monday Night Football game in November of 1985 while sacking the Redskins' QB.

     

    Notable Stats

    56.7 percent completion percentage

    160 TD

    138 INT

    25,206 yards

    77.4 rating

    2 Pro Bowls

    1 NFL MVP (1983)

41. Craig Morton

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    The first quarterback to start in Super Bowls with two different teams was Craig Morton, who appeared in the 1970 big game with the Dallas Cowboys and did the same in 1977 with the Denver Broncos. Interestingly, the other quarterback to accomplish the feat is Kurt Warner, who like Morton also played intervening time between those two teams with the New York Giants. Morton was replaced in 1971 as the Cowboys' quarterback by Roger Staubach, but Morton actually had a longer career than did "Captain Comeback," leaving Dallas in 1974. Of course, Morton's legacy is somewhat diminished by the fact that he lost both of his Super Bowl appearances- to the Unitas-led Baltimore Colts in 1970 and to the Staubach-led Dallas Cowboys in 1977.

     

    Notable Stats

    54.2 percent completion percentage

    183 TD

    187 INT

    27,908 yards

    73.5 rating

40. Kurt Warner

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    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    The Kurt Warner story is one of those "feel good" moments when a guy who isn't supposed to be that good turns out to be even better than the starter. When the Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV, he quarterbacked that team instead of an injured Trent Green. During his tenure in St. Louis, Warner won two league MVPs and went to three Pro Bowls. However, Warner had issues with injuries in the 2002 and 2003 seasons.

    He was replaced by Marc Bulger, who had enjoyed success in Warner's absence. Warner was out of a job. Warner played the 2004 season with the New York Giants, but was benched in favor of Eli Manning (who promptly led the Giants OUT of playoff contention... I digress). Warner then ended up with the Arizona Cardinals, and became only the second quarterback to start in two Super Bowls with two different teams. Warner is one of the better rated postseason passers of all time, though he only won the single Super Bowl ring. Warner retired before the 2010 season, and in his absence the Cardinals have NOBODY at quarterback, hence their 3-4 record.

     

    Notable Stats

    65.5 percent completion percentage

    208 TD

    128 INT

    32,344 yards

    93.7 rating

    4 Pro Bowls

    2 NFL MVPs (1999, 2001)

39. Jim Plunkett

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    Bob Galbraith/Associated Press

    Plunkett might be the worst quarterback to ever win two Super Bowls, but the point remains... the man still did win two Super Bowls, both with the Oakland Raiders, winning the Super Bowl MVP in his first go-round. Plunkett is also one of only four players (with Roger Staubach, Marcus Allen, and Desmond Howard) to win both the Heisman Trophy and the Super Bowl MVP award. He was the first minority quarterback to win a Super Bowl (he is Hispanic). Plunkett was not supposed to be the starter in either season when the Raiders won it all, but played well enough. He certainly isn't the best No. 1 overall pick in NFL history, but he isn't the worst, either, and he warrants a pretty high spot on the list because of his championship pedigree alone.

     

    Notable Stats

    52.5 percent completion percentage

    164 TD

    198 INT

    25,882 yards

    67.5 rating

38. John Brodie

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Brodie's No. 12 jersey has been retired by the 49ers, and yet he's probably only remembered as the third-greatest quarterback in franchise history. I guess that's what happens when you're followed by the likes of Steve Young and some guy named Joe Montana. Nevertheless, Brodie was pretty good in his own right; he was the No. 3 overall draft choice in the 1957 NFL Draft out of Stanford and won a league MVP award in 1970. Still, there's not a lot of space for him in the San Francisco sports pantheon, so Brodie is often overlooked. Tough break, John.

     

    Notable Stats

    55.0 percent completion percentage

    214 TD

    224 INT

    31,548 yards

    72.3 rating

    2 Pro Bowls

    1 NFL MVP (1970)

37. Mark Brunell

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    I keep assuming that this guy is going to retire. It's been so long since his heyday in Jacksonville-, but while doing research for this article I learned that yes, he is on the active roster for the New York Jets. He simply won't go away. In any event, I remember Brunell as the guy that always beat the Ravens their first few years in Baltimore; it wasn't until 2000 that the Ravens broke through and swept the Jaguars enroute to their only Super Bowl win.

    Brunell had a fantastic connection with wideouts Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell. Brunell was the biggest reason why the Jaguars became the first expansion franchise in NFL history to make the playoffs in three of their first four years of existence- the expansion team had stability at the most important position.

    Brunell next moved to the Washington Redskins, where he played solid but unspectacular football as the starter, before being benched in favor of first round draft choice Jason Campbell. Brunell then signed with the Saints and was the backup QB for Drew Brees during the Saints' Super Bowl run.

     

    Notable Stats

    59.5 percent completion percentage

    182 TD

    107 INT

    31,935 yards

    83.9 rating

    3 Pro Bowls

36. Steve 'Air' McNair

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Before his tragic death, Steve McNair was one of the better QBs that had ever played in the NFL. With McNair at the helm, the Tennessee Titans were usually one of the NFL's better teams. McNair's Titans did appear in one Super Bowl, which they lost to the "Greatest Show on Turf" when WR Kevin Dyson was famously stopped one yard short of what would have been a game tying touchdown to send the Super Bowl into overtime.

    McNair played most of his career with the Tennessee Titans, though he played his final two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens after Texas QB Vince Young was drafted to be McNair's replacement in Tennessee. McNair's best statistical season was 2003, when he was co-MVP of the league with Peyton Manning.

     

    Notable Stats

    60.1 percent completion percentage

    174 passing TD

    119 INT

    31,304 passing yards

    82.8 rating

    37 rushing TD

    3,590 rushing yards

    3 Pro Bowls

    1 NFL MVP (2003)

35. 'Boomer' Esiason

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Esiason entered the NFL in 1984 as the Cincinnati Bengals' second round draft choice, 38th overall, but was actually the first quarterback selected that year, much to the chagrin of NFL Draft "talking head" Mel Kiper (just ask if you're interested in what I think of Kiper's hair style) and in an unusual turn of events; quarterbacks are typically the position that is most in demand early in the draft. Esiason played nine seasons of his career with the Bengals, from 1984-92 and then a final season in 1997. He had stints with the New York Jets from 1993-5 and Arizona Cardinals from 1996 between his Cincinnati tenures.

    Esiason had a somewhat unique style compared to most other quarterbacks, stemming primarily from the fact that he was left-handed; he is one of the most successful southpaw quarterbacks of all time. Esiason's 1988 season was probably his best; he led the Bengals to the franchise's second Super Bowl birth. Like in their first trip, however, the Bengals were defeated by Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers when Montana threw the winning touchdown pass to John Taylor with 34 seconds left in the game. Esiason declined to play in the Pro Bowl that year following the loss, despite winning the league MVP award.

    It might not be much consolation for losing the Super Bowl, but Esiason's final NFL play was a 70 yard winning TD pass to Darnay Scott against the Baltimore Ravens.

     

    Notable Stats

    57.0 percent completion percentage

    247 TD

    184 INT

    37,920 yards

    81.1 rating

    4 Pro Bowls

    1 NFL MVP (1988)

34. Earl Morrall

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    Anonymous/Associated Press

    Earl Morrall, during his 21-year career, earned the title of "best backup QB" in NFL history; Morrall was part of three Super Bowl teams and led the Baltimore Colts into Super Bowl III at 13-1 where they were promptly upset by Joe Namath's Jets. Morrall is something of an unusual case in that he has more Super Bowl rings than Pro Bowl appearances. Morrall's best statistical season was in 1963 with the Detroit Lions, the second of the six teams for which he played, although he was a notable Pro Bowl snub that season. Morrall started for injured Dolphins QB Bob Griese during the 1972 season for the Miami Dolphins and was part of the league's only undefeated team in history, though he was benched in favor of Griese during the team's playoff run. Griese played in the actual Super Bowl that year.

     

    Notable Stats

    51.3 percent completion percentage

    161 TD

    148 INT

    20,809 yards

    74.1 rating

    2 Pro Bowls

33. 'Big Ben' Roethlisberger

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    That pass to Santonio Holmes closed out one of the better Super Bowls in recent memory in Pittsburgh's favor. I tried to downplay it for a couple of years, much like I tried to find ways to bump Ben Roethlisberger further down on this list. I'm a Ravens fan, I'm allowed to hate this guy. Especially in light of the fact that he's basically proven that on a personal level, he's pretty much a douche bag. However, the fact of the matter is... if Roethlisberger retired RIGHT THIS SECOND he is already ahead of most QBs in league history. Besides, I already reserved "worst quarterback ever to win two super bowls" for Jim Plunkett.

    The guy can flat out play, which is why the Steelers, a proud organization, were willing to give him another chance. Maybe his actions will be forgotten in Pittsburgh; I'd put the probability at "very high" if the Steelers win another championship, and in reality Ben is likely to rise much higher than this when his career is over.

    However, I reserve the right to call him a douche bag.

     

    Notable Stats

    132 passing TD

    83 INT

    20,056 passing yards

    92.1 rating

    12 rushing TD

    703 rushing yards

    1 Pro Bowl

32. Ken Stabler

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    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Stabler's first major appearance in the public spotlight was in relief of an injured Daryle Lamonica in the 1972 playoff game between the Raiders and the Steelers. Stabler scored what appeared to be the winning touchdown with just over a minute left in the game, but his heroics were foiled by Franco Harris and the so called "Immaculate Reception," which kick-started a rivalry between the Steelers and Raiders that was at its strongest in the 1970s. Stabler, of course, was right in the middle of it. Stabler's Raiders, following a defeat of the Steelers, went on to win Super Bowl XI over the Minnesota Vikings.

    As they still do today, the Raiders cultivated an "us against the world" mentality, and Stabler's party boy image fit right in with the team's culture. Even while serving as a lightning rod, Stabler led the NFL in passing touchdowns in 1974, his MVP season, and again in 1976; however, following a contract dispute, Stabler was traded to the Houston Oilers, where he played for two years before playing out the final three years of his career with the New Orleans Saints. Throughout his career, but especially with the Raiders, Stabler was known for playing especially well in the clutch. hence, a higher spot than some suggest that his statistics deserve.

     

    Notable Stats

    59.8 percent completion percentage

    194 TD

    222 INT

    27,938 yards

    75.3 rating

    4 Pro Bowls

    1 NFL MVP (1974)

31. Bobby Layne

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    Associated Press

    Bobby Layne was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1948, but was behind both Sid Luckman and Johnny Lujack on the depth chart, so he refused to return to the team in 1949. Bears owner George Halas traded Layne to the New York Bulldogs, where Layne developed quickly even though he only played there for one season before joining the team with which he spent most of his career- the Detroit Lions. To this date, Layne remains the best quarterback in Lions franchise history, though now Lions faithful might be daring to hope that they might have found the answer in Matthew Stafford. However, in 1958, the Lions traded Layne to the Pittsburgh Steelers... what happened then is the subject of much debate.

    Allegedly, Layne put a curse on the Lions, saying that they would not win for 50 years. In case you were curious, the 50th year since Layne's departure was the season when the Lions had the only 0-16 season in NFL history. If luck works in favor of the Lions now that the curse has expired, Stafford very well might be the guy to break the Bobby Layne jinx.

     

    Notable Stats

    49.0 percent completion percentage

    196 TD

    243 INT

    26,768 yards

    63.4 rating

    5 Pro Bowls

30. Phil Simms

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    T.G. Higgins/Getty Images

    Good enough to crack the top 30, Phil Simms won two Super Bowls as a member of the New York Giants, first in Super Bowl XXI and then again in Super Bowl XXV. To be fair, Jeff Hostetler was actually the QB that played in the 1990 win, and if the gods had been on Buffalo's side that day, NFL history might be very different. Nevertheless, it isn't like Simms was handed both rings: following the 1986 season, Simms played one of the best games of his career against the Denver Broncos, completing 22 of 25 passes. Ultimately, though, Simms is diminished to some extent by the fact that he was never the biggest reason his team was winning during his tenure with the Giants.

    That role was reserved for the fearsome Giants defense, led by Lawrence Taylor.

     

    Notable Stats

    55.4 percent completion percentage

    199 TD

    157 INT

    33,462 yards

    78.5 rating

    2 Pro Bowls

29. Jim Kelly

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    Mark Duncan/Associated Press

    Jim Kelly, the best QB in Buffalo Bills franchise history, couldn't escape the curse that the city seems to live under. The Bills are in the argument for unluckiest franchise in league history, and it starts with two words: "Wide Right." In the three following Super Bowls, the Bills were blown out, and one of the most talented teams in league history- the 90s Bills- broke up without ever winning a Super Bowl.

    Kelly's part in running the show was a major one. He was known for running the no-huddle "K-Gun" offense- often calling two or three formations in the huddle and then immediately getting back into an offensive formation to keep the defense from making substitutions. The NFL later adopted a rule change to assist the defense making substitutions in these situations.

     

    Notable Stats

    60.1 percent completion percentage

    237 TD

    175 INT

    35,467 yards

    84.4 rating

    4 Pro Bowls

    4 Straight SB Appearances (0 wins)

28. Roman Gabriel

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    Harry Harris/Associated Press

    Gabriel played the first 11 years of his career with the Los Angeles Rams and the last five with the Philadelphia Eagles. His best season was 1969, when he won the league MVP, but he was consistently near the top of the NFL in passing categories during the late 1960s. An especially notable aspect of Gabriel's play is his 3.3 percent interception percentage (the percentage of his passes that were intercepted). That is unusually low for quarterbacks that played in Gabriel's era.

     

    Notable Stats

    52.6 percent completion percentage

    201 TD

    149 INT

    29,444 yards

    74.3 rating

    4 Pro Bowls

    1 NFL MVP (1969)

27. Bob Griese

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Griese had a 14-year professional football career, and all 14 years were with the Miami Dolphins. He started and ended the 1972 season, when the Dolphins were a perfect 17-0, though he was relieved by Earl Morrall following an injury in week 5 as mentioned earlier. Griese was the quarterback at the helm during the height of the Miami Dolphins' dynasty in the early 1970s, and he experienced a career revival when he started wearing glasses during the 1977 season, revealing that he had very subpar vision in his right eye. Throughout his career, Griese called his own plays.

     

    Notable Stats

    56.2 percent completion percentage

    192 TD

    172 INT

    25,092 yards

    77.1 rating

    2 time AFL All Star

    6 Pro Bowls

26. Donovan McNabb

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Surprised by his high placement? That's fine, but if you look at the lack of playmakers he's had around him in his career, the reality is that he's produced at a high level for a long, long time. If there was ever a quarterback that took way too much heat, it would be Donovan McNabb. And McNabb, to his credit, has always handled the pressure graciously. I'm still trying to figure out why, exactly, Andy Reid decided that trading Donovan McNabb at all was a good idea, much less trading him within the division to the Washington Redskins.

    McNabb's legacy is in desperate need of a Super Bowl victory, yet somehow I doubt that one is forthcoming. He will probably also be hurt by the perception that he was the guy that held back several really good Philadelphia Eagles teams; there are also people who feel like Brian Westbrook was the guy that made Philly's offense go during McNabb's tenure in Philadelphia.

    Even so, when you crunch the numbers, McNabb definitely deserves this spot, and if nothing else, the guy has a lot of talent and has made many, many postseason appearances with a pretty average group of guys around him barring Westbrook and Brian Dawkins.

     

    Notable Stats

    58.9 percent completion percentage

    223 TD

    108 INT

    34,844 yards

    85.9 rating

    6 Pro Bowls

25. Randall Cunningham

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Going purely by numbers, Randall Cunningham probably shouldn't be this high on the list. Of course, going by purely numbers was never something that Cunningham did. During his career with Philadelphia and then Minnesota in 1998 Randall Cunningham was one of the league's most electrifying players and a dual-threat quarterback. Cunningham was remarkably flexible and has been described by many as having more raw talent than any other QB to ever play the game of football. His inconsistent career that was marked by flashes of absolute brilliance attest to this view. Heck, even Cunningham is sometimes at a loss: he has been quoted as saying, "Some of the things I did on the field... I don't know how I did them."

    Because this guy was just flat out exciting. I am too young to have seen him in his prime, but the '98 season with Minnesota—the best in his career—was enough to make me a believer. By the time he played his last season in Baltimore in 2001, he was just a shadow of what he had once been. But on occasion, you could still see it shine through. An incredible athlete.

     

    Notable Stats

    56.6 percent completion percentage

    207 passing TD

    134 INT

    29,797 passing yards

    81.5 rating

    35 rushing TD

    4,928 rushing yards

    4 Pro Bowls

    1 NFL MVP (1990)

24. Y.A. Tittle

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    Focus On Sport/Getty Images

    The Dan Marino of his era, Y.A. Tittle has everything he could possibly want on his resume as far as numbers, but his legacy is hurt somewhat by the lack of an NFL championship, despite the fact that the Giants appeared in three straight NFL title games from 1961-3 with Tittle at quarterback. Tittle was the first quarterback to have consecutive 30+ TD pass seasons, something that only seven other quarterbacks have done in the history of the league.

     

    Notable Stats

    55.5  percent completion percentage

    212 TD

    221 INT

    28,339 yards

    73.6 rating

    7 Pro Bowls

    4 NFL MVPs (1957, 1961, 1962, 1963)

23. Norm Van Brocklin

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    Vic Stein/Getty Images

    Norm Van Brocklin played the first nine years of his twelve year career with the Los Angeles Rams and then finished his career with the Philadelphia Eagles. Van Brocklin was a two-time NFL champion, once with each franchise, and is the holder of the NFL's single-game passing yardage record (554 yards). At the beginning of his career, Van Brocklin split quarterbacking duties with Bob Waterfield, but soon took over the starting job himself. Van Brocklin was surrounded by the likes of Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch as well as Tom Fears; to a certain extent it is surprising that the Rams only won one NFL title, losing to the Cleveland Browns in 1950 and then again in 1955. Van Brocklin retired almost immediately after winning his second title with the Eagles; as it would turn out, that was the only time that Vince Lombardi's Packers would be defeated in a championship game of any kind.

     

    Notable Stats

    53.6 percent completion percentage

    173 TD

    178 INT

    23,611 yards

    75.1 rating

    9 Pro Bowls

    1 NFL MVP (1960)

22. Troy Aikman

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    When you think of the Dallas Cowboys through the years, you think of good quarterback play- indeed, even the less famous quarterbacks managed to make this list. Of the top two, Aikman is the first to appear. If you talk to Troy Aikman, he'll tell you that he thinks he should be much higher; that because of the system he played in which was run-based he never got the chance to show what he could do. That might or might not be a fair assessment; however, the fact remains that Aikman didn't produce at such a high level in terms of his individual statistics as did other players of his era.

    Still, it's hard to argue with the results. The last time I checked, Aikman has three Super Bowl rings. I'd bet that some guys on this list would trade their higher standing just to have one.

     

    Notable Stats

    61.5 percent completion percentage

    165 TD

    141 INT

    32,942 yards

    81.6 rating

    6 Pro Bowls

21. Drew Brees

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    Prior to last season, there is no way that Brees would rank this highly in the top 100. However, at a certain point you just have to look around and realize, "hey... who else can we justify putting ahead of this guy?"

    Brees has been one of the league's best quarterbacks since joining the Saints, and almost broke Dan Marino's single season passing yardage record in 2008, still throwing for over 5,000 yards. Brees has thrown for 4,300 yards in four consecutive seasons, and is on pace to exceed that number yet again this year. Sure, he's going to have some clunkers every now and again, but Brees has been in the league a long time and for the last five years has really been one of the league's elite QBs.

    He doesn't belong in the top 20 just yet, but if he wins another championship and keeps putting up numbers like these, it will be hard to rate guys like Dan Fouts ahead of him when all is said and done.

    Oh, one more thing. Brees's QB rating during the Saints' Super season a whopping 109.6. Not bad.

     

    Notable Stats

    65.2 percent completion percentage

    218 TD

    121 INT

    32,980 yards

    91.9 rating

    4 Pro Bowls

20. Ken Anderson

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    Getty Images/Getty Images

    The No. 20 quarterback of all time and 1981 league MVP isn't in the Hall of Fame. Ken Anderson never won a Super Bowl, which hurts him as far as getting into the Hall and also as far as his standing on this list. However, the fact that a guy hasn't won a Super Bowl doesn't mean he wasn't one of the best to ever play the position. Anderson completed a much higher percentage of passes than did his contemporaries and in his only Super Bowl appearance was stonewalled by the great San Francisco 49ers dynasty.

    If you put up Anderson's numbers against many QBs who are in the Hall, Anderson compares favorably.

    And come on. The Hall has room for Joe Namath but not for Ken Anderson? Get real.

     

    Notable Stats

    59.3 percent completion percentage

    197 TD

    160 INT

    32,838 yards

    81.9 rating

    4 Pro Bowls

    1 NFL MVP (1981)

19. Terry Bradshaw

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    Harry Cabluck/Associated Press

    The "Blonde Bomber" didn't have eye-popping statistics, but he quarterbacked one of the great dynasties in NFL history: the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers, who won four Super Bowl titles. When you watch highlight films from the 1970s, you see a lot of Terry Bradshaw. He's only 19th on the countdown because the leader of that team was probably "Mean Joe" Greene and the famous Steel Curtain defense, but the former No. 1 draft choice from Louisiana Tech made several clutch throws in the postseason when the Steelers needed them. And hey, there's only one other quarterback who has ever won four Super Bowls- that's an accomplishment in and of itself.

     

    Notable Stats

    51.9 percent completion percentage (way lower than Ken Anderson, hello!)

    212 TD

    210 INT

    27,989 yards

    70.9 rating

    3 Pro Bowls

    1 NFL MVP (1978)

18. Warren Moon

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    David Scarbrough/Associated Press

    Ahhh the Run 'n' Shoot. If you are looking for an offense that could score at will, this could be it. And if you're looking for the perfect quarterback to run that system, Warren Moon is your man. Moon is also the only African-American quarterback enshrined in the Hall. Moon's best season with the Houston Oilers was 1993- also his last year with the team. His statistics were almost always mind-blowing; Moon is the only player to be enshrined in both the NFL Hall of Fame and the CFL Hall of Fame.

    Even without his CFL career numbers added on, Moon's statistics are still impressive; until Brett Favre broke Moon's major passing records in 2007, Moon held the NFL record for passing touchdowns and passing completions. Moon never won an NFL championship- five Grey Cups in the CFL will have to do- but his numbers alone warrant such a high place on the list.

     

    Notable Stats

    58.4 percent completion percentage

    291 TD

    233 INT

    49,325 yards

    80.9 rating

    9 Pro Bowls

    1 NFL MVP (1990)

17. Len Dawson

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    WILLIAM P. STRAETER/Associated Press

    What is really interesting about Dawson's career is that he was drafted in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers but never got a chance to play when the Steelers acquired Bobby Layne in a trade with Detroit. Dawson then ended up in Cleveland, which eventually went with Frank Ryan, who never ended up as good as Ryan.

    Meanwhile, Dawson started lighting it up with the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs in the 1960s and was named to the second team of the All-Time AFL Team at the league's dissolution and merger into the NFL after Super Bowl IV, which Dawson's Chiefs won over the heavily favored Minnesota Vikings; Dawson got redemption in this game after losing Super Bowl I to Vince Lombardi's Packers.

     

    Notable Stats

    57.7 percent completion percentage

    239 TD

    183 INT

    28,711 yards

    82.6 rating

    6 time AFL All-Star

    1 Pro Bowl

    1 AFL MVP (1962)

16. 'Sonny' Jurgensen

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    If there was ever a guy who is forgotten in NFL history, it's this guy. It's a damn good thing that I did my diligence; I'd never heard of Jurgensen a week ago. It isn't that difficult to figure out why, exactly, that is- Jurgensen won a single NFL title with the Eagles backing up Norm Van Brocklin and never won a Super Bowl. His stats line up pretty well with the guys of his era, but I mean... I hadn't heard of him. At all.

    It's tough for me to rank a guy like this ahead of guys that I've constantly discussed when talking about the all-time great quarterbacks in NFL history. Having said that, look at the numbers. He'd do a lot of modern quarterbacks shame... without any kind of adjustment for the new rules that favor offense. This guy has some STATS.

     

    Notable Stats

    57.1 percent completion percentage

    255 TD

    189 INT

    32,224 yards (!)

    82.6 rating (!!!)

    5 Pro Bowls

15. Bart Starr

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    Associated Press

    I'm about to get hammered no matter where I place Starr. You'll periodically hear Starr's name come up in discussions about the top quarterback of all time, though it is rare. At the same time, you hear people slam him for being basically a glorified game manager on a team that won FIVE championships (three NFL titles and the first two Super Bowls).

    Starr was the face of the Packers franchise, and even if his stats aren't exactly eye-popping, the fact of the matter is- even if you call him a game manager. He was a REALLY GOOD game manager who also happened to win an NFL MVP.

     

    Notable Stats

    57.4 percent completion percentage

    152 TD

    138 INT

    24,718 passing yards

    80.5 rating

    4 Pro Bowls

    1 NFL MVP (1966)

14. Sid Luckman

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    Associated Press

    Luckman played 12 seasons for the Chicago Bears from 1939-1950, and in that span led the Bears to four NFL championships. He was known as one of the first great T-formation quarterbacks; he is probably still the best QB in Bears franchise history (nice try Jim McMahon).

    Luckman's bio is pretty hilarious; despite the fact that he was given the chance to play professional football, he originally planned to decline the opportunity and work at a relative's TRUCKING COMPANY. The idea of a guy like Peyton Manning doing that is simply hilarious, so it bears repeating that Luckman, one of the best QBs in league history, actually had that intention. How far the NFL has come!

     

    Notable Stats

    51.8 percent completion percentage

    137 TD

    132 INT

    14,686 yards

    75.0 rating

    7 TD passes in one game (tied for NFL record)

13. 'Slingin' Sammy Baugh

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    Associated Press

    Along with Sid Luckman, "Slingin Sammy" was one of the first players to make the forward pass an integral part of how football was played. Baugh played three ways, offense, defense, and punter, leading the Washington Redskins to two NFL titles (1937 and 1942). Baugh's rookie contract was $8,000, which made him the highest paid player on the team, but it's also interesting to note that at the time he was drafted, Baugh didn't have a clue what, exactly, the NFL draft was.

    In any event, the forward pass became a primary offensive weapon while Baugh was in the league, and "Slingin Sammy" was always at the forefront in terms of using this innovative approach.

     

    Notable Stats

    56.5 percent completion percentage

    187 TD

    203 INT

    21,886 yards

    72.2 rating

    7 time first team All-Pro

    2 time NFL Player of the Year (1947, 1948)

12. Dan Fouts

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    As "pilot" of the famous "Air Coryell" offense, Dan Fouts was the quarterback for the San Diego Chargers in the 1970s and 1980s. Fouts was taken in the third round out of the University of Oregon, and led the league in passing yardage four times in his career. Fouts's first few years in the league were relatively anonymous, but when Don Coryell arrived in 1978 he turned San Diego into the "Superchargers." Fouts was surrounded by players like Kellen Winslow, Charlie Joiner, John Jefferson, and Wes Chandler, so there was no shortage of targets. However, despite the gaudy offensive numbers, Fouts's teams never appeared in a Super Bowl, though they did get to the AFC title game in 1980 and 1981. A lack of postseason success keeps Fouts from entering the top 10.

     

    Notable Stats

    58.8 percent completion percentage

    254 TD

    242 INT

    43,040 yards

    80.2 rating

    6 Pro Bowls

    2 NFL MVPs (1979, 1982)

11. Brett Favre

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    ED REINKE/Associated Press

    He might be embattled and wearing the wrong team's colors these days, but the fact that he's become a polarizing figure shouldn't obscure Favre's legendary career. After all, why do you think the Vikings put up with him? Simple: because he's Brett Favre. You know, the 11 time Pro Bowler, the guy who holds the records for most passes attempted, most passes completed, most touchdowns, most consecutive starts... you get the idea. He's an NFL icon, and his popularity (or infamy, if you'd rather) transcends the NFL. This is the one player who was really good when I was young that is still playing at a high level, a true iron man. No matter your feelings, Favre deserves a high spot on the list.

    However, I've got him as the last man out of the top ten for a couple of reasons. One, he only has one NFL title. One ring isn't zero; I can't penalize a guy for only having one. However, it's not like the one ring by itself gives Favre a boost. Two, Favre holds many records simply because he played a long time.

    Favre's iron man streak of 292 consecutive starts (and counting) is maybe his most recognizable number, and while he owns a number of great records (i.e. most career TD passes) he also owns a couple of bad ones (i.e. most interceptions and fumbles). Longevity alone doesn't do it for me.

    In a nutshell, Favre has been everything you'd expect a great quarterback to be... but nothing more. Sounds contradictory, but all of the guys ahead of him have something that he doesn't.

     

    Notable Stats

    62.0 percent completion percentage

    504 TD

    328 INT

    70,779 yards

    86.3 rating

    11 Pro Bowls

    3 NFL MVPs (1995, 1996, 1997)

10. Steve Young

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    SUSAN RAGAN/Associated Press

    Steve Young is one of the more interesting characters in NFL history, having done things like wash his helmet in the shower. However, Young also changed while he was playing the game. Early in his career, people talked about moving him to running back full time just because he was so good at running. However, Young's improvisational skills proved best suited to the quarterback position. He developed into a scrambling QB and then eventually into a conventional pocket QB as he aged; it was a good thing too considering he was surrounded by a great supporting cast headlined by arguably the best player in NFL history regardless of position, WR Jerry Rice.

    To me, Young and Favre are about the same. But Young just has a couple more moments where I just look at it and say "wow." He's a little bit crazier, a little bit less conventional... and yeah, Young probably benefits from the fact that he hasn't annoyed me constantly for the past few years with his whining.

    Notable Stats

    64.3 percent completion percentage

    232 passing TD

    107 INT

    33,124 passing yards

    96.8 rating (NFL record)

    43 rushing TD (NFL record for QBs)

    4,239 rushing yards

    7 Pro Bowls

    2 NFL MVPs (1992, 1994)

9. Fran Tarkenton

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    Tony Tomsic/Getty Images

    Let me say this as clearly as I can: Fran Tarkenton might be the best regular season quarterback in NFL history. Yes, including Peyton Manning. When you compare the two players, Tarkenton retired as the leading passer AND rusher among quarterbacks. Kind of hard to believe, but it's true. Tarkenton is rightly remembered as a great scrambler, but sometimes people forget exactly how good he was as a passer. Obviously, the major knock on Tarkenton is that he never won a Super Bowl despite having multiple attempts with a great supporting cast around him. Tarkenton at his retirement owned pretty much every meaningful passing record.

    I know it shouldn't necessarily be the case, because he lost to the Dolphins and Steelers dynasties in the 1970s when he did get to the Super Bowl. But at the same time... no Super Bowls for arguably the greatest QB of his era? Not one? Sorry, you lose points.

     

    Notable Stats

    57.0 percent completion percentage

    343 passing TD

    266 INT

    47,003 passing yards

    80.4 rating

    32 rushing TD

    3,674 rushing yards

    9 Pro Bowls

    1 NFL MVP (1975)

8. Dan Marino

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    JANE RUDOLPH/Associated Press

    On one level, it's hard to believe that the quarterback in charge of the great Miami Dolphins dynasty of the 1970s isn't the greatest in franchise history. On another level, it's more understandable when the other quarterback is Dan Marino, generally considered the best quarterback not to win an NFL championship.

    Marino has everything else as far as numbers, including the all-time single season yardage record (5,084), most games with at least 300 yards passing (63), most games with 400 yards passing (13), and most 4th quarter comebacks including both regular and postseason (51). It's all there, but much as Marino advocates are about to scream about how much "no Super Bowl" doesn't matter, I'm going to argue just the opposite. As I mentioned on the introductory slide... if your guy was the greatest in history, why didn't he win?

    To be fair, Marino's only appearance in the Super Bowl came against Joe Montana's 49ers, and the 49ers probably had a better supporting cast around Montana. But uh... again, if your guy was that good...

    Sorry.

     

    Notable Stats

    59.4 percent completion percentage

    420 TD

    252 INT

    61,131 yards

    86.4 rating

    9 Pro Bowls

    1 NFL MVP (1984)

7. Otto Graham

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    Associated Press

    Yeah, he's an old timer, but he warrants this spot. Otto Graham played for ten years with the Cleveland Browns, and in all ten seasons, Graham led the Browns the championship game. In ten appearances, Graham won seven league titles (3 NFL, 4 AAFC), the most all time for any player. Graham's record as a starter was 57-13-1 (.810), good for the best winning percentage all time among quarterbacks. It was a different time- there weren't as many teams in the NFL as there are today, and there wasn't the same kind of parity. But still... to appear in every championship game in your career and win seven?

    That will almost certainly never be matched. Graham was through and through a winner, and that alone earns him the No. 7 spot. Not that his statistics don't back it up, though- they do. Just look at the TD/INT differential and QB rating and compare it to other QBs of the era.

     

    Notable Stats

    55.8 percent completion percentage

    174 TD

    135 INT

    23,584 yards

    86.6 rating (!!!)

    9 time All-Pro

    3 NFL MVPs (1951, 1953, 1955)

6. Roger Staubach

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    Associated Press

    In the 1970s, the Dallas Cowboys were "America's Team," and during the same time period, Roger Staubach became the team leader: "Captain America" or "Captain Comeback." Dallas always seemed to be behind late in the game... and Staubach always seemed to come through to win at the last possible moment. Staubach led 23 game-winning drives in his career, including the famous "Hail Mary" pass in the 1975 game against the Minnesota Vikings. The game was over- Hail Mary passes never work. But for Roger Staubach they did.

    Staubach is recognized as one of the game's all time great quarterbacks, and with two Super Bowl rings in four appearances his career makes a strong case for the top ten, especially considering his multiple clutch performances to save Dallas over the years. Even so, the question for Staubach's teams became, "well... he's got such a great supporting cast... why did they get behind in the first place?"

    I'm not sure that's a fair question, but it is regularly asked nonetheless, and Staubach comes in at No. 6 on the countdown.

     

    Notable Stats

    57.0 percent completion percentage

    153 TD

    109 INT

    22,700 yards

    83.4 rating

    6 Pro Bowls

5. John Elway

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    DAVID ZALUBOWSKI/Associated Press

    Moving deeper into the top ten, we now see John Elway ranked at No. 5. Elway's long and distinguished career is undeniably deserving of a top five spot; however, some would rank him even higher than where he is here.

    The major issue I have with Elway is what I call the "label change." Over the course of his career, John Elway appeared in five Super Bowls, including two in his final two seasons in the league winning both. However, prior to that point, Elway spent his career as the guy who couldn't win the big one, much like Marino in that regard. I'm not sure that I'm ready to just suddenly jump this guy all the way to the top because he proved all the doubters wrong.

    The way I see it, there are five guys that have legitimate arguments for the top spot, and Elway is one of them. I know that this guy shed the label of not winning the big one. But unlike guys like Peyton Manning or Dan Marino, the two statistically best passers of their eras, Elway didn't also have the stats where one or two rings could jump a guy all the way to the top. The two rings did, however, jump him ahead of Roger Staubach. Elway was arguably even more clutch than "Captain Comeback," leading 47 game winning drives in the 4th quarter or overtime.

    Ultimately when you get to the top few spots, you are obliged to nitpick, and nitpicking is enough for me to leave Elway at No. 5.

     

    Notable Stats

    56.9 percent completion percentage

    300 TD

    226 INT

    51,476 yards

    79.9 rating

    9 Pro Bowls

    1 NFL MVP (1987)

4. Peyton Manning

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    There are just not very many players like Peyton Manning. Guys like him don't come around very often. The Indianapolis Colts have the longest streak in NFL history for consecutive 12-win seasons, and the biggest reason for that has been the play of Manning. There is no real doubt that this guy can get it done, and he's got all the statistics you could ever want to back it up. He is on pace to break most major passing records, though it remains to be seen exactly how far out some of Brett Favre's records will be after this season, and he was the fastest player to reach 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, and 4,000 completions in his career.

    The knock on Manning has always been that he doesn't usually play his best when the chips are down. The pressure seems to get to him. To an extent, the murmurs about that were quieted when Manning won his first and to date his only Super Bowl against the Bears in 2006, but the murmurs got a lot louder when Manning threw a game-sealing interception to Saints CB Tracy Porter in last season's Super Bowl.

    Manning isn't typically thought of as a "clutch" quarterback, and despite his gaudy numbers, I'd rather have guys who just don't seem to feel pressure. At the same time, just the stratospheric nature of Manning's numbers alone warrant a place in the top five.

     

    Notable Stats

    64.9 percent completion percentage

    381 TD

    183 INT

    52,312 yards

    95.5 rating

    10 Pro Bowls

    4 NFL MVPs (2003, 2004, 2008, 2009) * = league record for most MVPs in modern era

3. Tom Brady

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    Prior to "18 and d'oh," many people were getting ready to crown Tom Brady as the greatest quarterback of all time. The New England Patriots were prohibitive favorites against the New York Giants, and Brady was going to join Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw as the third quarterback to win four Super Bowls. But then the unthinkable happened—the Patriots lost.

    Brady's greatest legacy is still the three Super Bowl wins in the early 2000s. He won with different people around him on offense and pretty good defenses. The bottom line is that he is a winner, and the reason why he is a winner is that, when the chips are down, he's going to make it all go. Even in his lone Super Bowl loss, Brady did what he had to do. He drove the Patriots down the field for a go-ahead touchdown with about 2:30 in the fourth quarter.

    It was at that point that things got surreal. Eli Manning somehow escaped a sack before heaving the ball deep down the field for David Tyree, who made the famous "helmet catch," and we all know what happened next.

    Brady's legacy is hurt by his inability to finish that season undefeated. Despite the fact that he got a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, the fact remains that it was Eli's moment to date—really his only moment, but still most definitely Eli's moment.

    Brady's status as a clutch player wasn't undermined, but his legacy was, and instead of No. 1, he now falls to No. 3 on the countdown.

     

    Notable Stats

    63.4 percent completion percentage

    237 TD

    103 INT

    32,336 yards

    93.5 rating

    5 Pro Bowls

    1 NFL MVP (2007)

2. Johnny Unitas

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    Anonymous/Associated Press

    Years after he finished playing in Baltimore, the late Johnny Unitas is still remembered and idolized for what he did on the football field. Perhaps the most unbreakable record in professional football is Unitas's record of 47 consecutive games with a touchdown pass. Some people feel that record is living on borrowed time, and yet, even the most prolific passers like Dan Marino and Peyton Manning have yet to take it down. Unitas deserves every accolade he gets and then some as one of the league's all-time great quarterbacks. Unitas was the winning quarterback in the so-called "Greatest Game Ever Played," the 1958 NFL championship against the New York Giants, quarterbacked a successful title defense in 1959, then defeated the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl V.

    Most of Unitas's records have now been broken with the advent of rule changes that favor offensive production, but Unitas pioneered such mainstays as the so-called "two-minute drill" that are still used today. Unitas is without question a top-three or top-five quarterback in NFL history, and there is a strong case for him to be as high as he is here.

    Unitas and the Baltimore Colts began play at 2 p.m. every Sunday, which was unique to Baltimore: The Colts wanted to make sure that everyone who wanted to had time to go to church before the game started. So the saying went that for Colts fans, the day started with God, and the day ended with God, just in a different form the second time—as he wore No. 19.

     

    Notable Stats

    54.6 percent completion percentage

    290 TD

    253 INT

    40,239 yards

    78.2 rating

    10 Pro Bowls

    4 NFL MVPs (1957, 1959, 1964, 1967)

1. Joe Montana

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    Paul Sakuma/Associated Press

    "Hey, guys. It's John Candy."

    I was really tempted to have that quote be the only text on the slide, but I decided against it. Allegedly, that is what Joe Montana said as he stepped onto the field in Super Bowl XXIII before the famous "Montana drive" that culminated with a Joe Montana touchdown pass to receiver John Taylor when the 49ers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals.

    I don't think too many people are going to argue this one—Montana is the closest thing you can get to a consensus No. 1 quarterback of all time. Yes, there are knocks against him that he was surrounded by an all-star supporting cast on both offense and defense, and he didn't avoid a couple of big upsets. Even so, the guy still had to make all the plays, and he was the constant in the great 49ers dynasty. Montana's Niners won one Super Bowl without Jerry Rice and two without Roger Craig; he also won at different times in his career.

    Of course, to be No. 1 on this list, you need a signature moment. It wasn't in the Super Bowl, but "The Catch" is as good a moment as any to beat the Dallas Cowboys at the height of their power.

    So there you have it: the No. 1 quarterback of all time, "Joe Cool." Thanks for reading!

     

    Notable Stats

    63.2 percent completion percentage

    273 TD

    139 INT

    40,551 yards

    92.3 rating

    8 Pro Bowls

    2 NFL MVPs (1989, 1990)

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