B/R Picks the Greatest Quarterback of All-Time

David ArreolaSenior Analyst INovember 13, 2008

Before I write a single thing on quarterbacks, I want to take a little more of your time by thanking everyone who was involved in this monumental quest. I received 30 lists from people across the nation.

Friends in my hometown, bloggers on random sites, big-name sports coverage networks like ESPN, and of course, a handful from B/R. Those of you who submitted me a list, I assure you it was used.

Every list had an impact on the final list! Whether it was giving a quarterback that final push to move up a spot, or building a lead to hold onto a higher spot: YOUR LIST MADE A DIFFERENCE.

Words could not thank you enough for helping me realize my dream in sports. To finally compile a list of the ten greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

For those of you who do not know, I posted an article roughly a week and a half ago calling on people to embark on "The Quest". If you have not already read that article, I suggest you look on my profile and read the rules as well as the points system.

So after compiling all the lists and adding up all the points. I have compiled The Fan's Top 10 Quarterbacks of All-Time.

Enough formalities, let the list begin!

In 30 lists, 24 different quarterbacks received votes. Of course, the list is only a list of the Top 10 Quarterbacks of All-Time.

However, to honor the 14 quarterbacks as well as the people who had enough faith in their careers to give them a precious spot in their top 10, I will now list the Quarterbacks that received points, but DID NOT make the Top 10 list.

Randall Cunningham (1pt)
Y.A. Tittle (1pt)
Kenny Stabler (4pts)
Bob Griese (9pts)
Warren Moon (11pts)
Phil Simms (11pts)
Dan Fouts (12pts)
Joe Namath (15pts)
Jim Kelly (20pts)
Sammy Baugh (25pts)
Troy Aikman (28pts)
Roger Staubach (39pts)
Bart Starr (42pts)
Fran Tarkenton (50pts)

The names that are not on that honorable mention list either did not receive any points...or they have earned the honor to be in the Top 10.

Alas, the moment you have all been waiting for (and me since I first read into NFL history) the revealing of the Top 10 Greatest Quarterbacks of All-Time. Chosen by the fans and media alike.

No. 10- Steve Young
15/30 lists



Key Stat- Highest Career Passer Rating in NFL History-96.8; 64% completion; 6 TD passes in Super Bowl XXIX; 2 NFL AP-MVP Awards. Hall Of Famer


Steve Young will forever be known as the only quarterback to successfully replace a legend. Young was one of the most accurate and consistent passers in NFL history. Leading the league in passing six times. As well as being only one of four quarterbacks who have ever led the league in touchdown passes four times.


His accuracy was only surpassed by his mobility. Young holds the record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 43.


Yeah, but....
Young had two things that plagued him his entire career. The Green Bay Packers in the playoffs and injuries. Young was knocked out of the playoffs three years in a row by the Packers, cutting short many Super Bowl runs. Concussions plagued Young's career until he was finally forced to retire because of post-concussion syndrome in 1999.



No. 9-Otto Graham

7/30 lists




Key Stat- Led the Cleveland Browns to 4 All American Football Conference titles and 6 consecutive NFL title games, winning three of the six. An unparalleled record of 105-17-4 as a starter. Hall Of Famer.

Otto Graham was all about winning.  That is all he did.  Never again will an NFL quarterback go to six straight NFL championship games (10 if you count the four AAFC title games).  He was the epitome of an X-factor.

Otto Graham won all the big games with both his legs and his arm.  Graham went to five Pro Bowls and was named the UPI NFL MVP three times.

Graham's No. 14 is retired, even though he spent more of his career wearing No. 60.

Yeah but...

There is no denying the AAFC was an inferior league so you wonder how Graham and the Browns would have fared those first four AAFC title years had they been in the NFL.



No. 8-Terry Bradshaw


19/30 lists


Key Stat-Four-time Super Bowl Champion. 2 Super Bowl MVPs. Hall Of Famer


Bradshaw was the first quarterback to ever win four Super Bowls. He led one of the best offenses in NFL history and finished his career with a record of 107-51 as a starter, as well as a staggering 14-5 record in the playoffs. Bradshaw had one of the strongest arms we have ever seen. His obvious leadership translated to wins on the field.


Yeah, but...
Bradshaw did not have very good stats. During his career he finished a season with a rating below 60 four times. As well as being under 80 nine seasons. He only threw two more TDs than INTs. Both touchdowns coming in his final NFL game.


He also was on one of the greatest teams in NFL history. With eight Hall Of Famers (not including himself) playing on his team, he often had room for mistakes.



No. 7-Tom Brady

23/30 lists

*As of 11/11/2009


Key Stat- 3-time Super Bowl Champion. 2-time Super Bowl MVP. 28 game winning drives in the 4th quarter or OT. Holds record for most passing TDs in a single season, with 50.


Is there any denying Brady's ability to win? He broke Bart Starr's record of 10 consecutive playoff wins. He also led an NFL record 21 consecutive wins. A record that will likely stand for a long, long time.


Tom Brady has also led two game-winning drives in the Super Bowl. Brady is one of the most accurate and calm quarterbacks we have ever had the pleasure of watching.


Yeah, but....
Two words, well one, Spygate. Was Tom Brady a cheater? No, but Belichick sure was. Were Brady's championships the product of cheating? I hate to think it, but getting caught never helps your argument. 


Also Adam Vinatieri won two of Brady's Super Bowls in the dying seconds. Oh how Jim Kelly wishes he had a kicker like that.



No. 6-Peyton Manning

23/30 lists




*As of 11/11/2009


Key Stat-2 NFL MVP Awards. Holds franchise records for passing TDs and Yards for the Colts. Super Bowl Champion and MVP. 4th All-time in passing TDs. Owns virtually all rookie passing records.


When I hear Peyton Manning, I think statistic. That was until he won Super Bowl XLI. The win propelled Manning into the realm of greatness this early in his career. Manning is one of the smartest quarterbacks, in terms of football, we have ever seen.


His arm never misses its mark and has nearly doubled his interception count with touchdowns. Something very few quarterbacks can boast this late in their career.


Yeah, but...

Manning's resume is virtually flawless. Except for the fact that he still has six or seven years of football left in him. However, Manning's playoff record is a mere 7-7. Also Peyton Manning has one of the greatest wide receivers of all-time in Marvin Harrison. I wonder how many touchdown passes Manning would have if he did not have Marvin Harrison.



No. 5- John Elway


27/30 lists





Key Stat- 2 time Super Bowl Champion. 148 Wins as a starter, 2nd most in NFL history. 47 fourth quarter comebacks, most all-time. Hall of Famer


John Elway was the gunslinger of his time. Always running for his life trying to make a play. Truth is, John had it all. He hurt teams with both his feet and his legs. In fact, Elway is the only player in NFL history to pass for 3,000 yards as well as rush for 200 yds in seven straight seasons.


Elway's final two years proved to be his greatest. By winning two Super Bowls, Elway has earned his place in Canton, OH.


Yeah, but...

John Elway was 2-3 in Super Bowls. Not exactly a great showing. He also finished his career with an average QB rating of 79.9. However, Elway never had big name receivers around him nor a top ranked defense. I wonder, what if Elway had won all five of those Super Bowls...



No. 4- Dan Marino

27/30 lists


Key Stat-2nd in NFL history for passing touchdowns, yards, completions and attempts. One of only two players to throw for 400 TDs and pass for 60,000 yards. Holds 31 Miami Dolphins records. Highest TD/INT differential +168. Hall of Famer.


Dan Marino is the greatest pure passer in NFL history. His release and strong arm are trademarks of Marino. Marino held virtually all NFL passing records until they were broken in 2006 & 2007. He remains the only quarterback to ever throw for 5,000 yards in a season.


Marino holds many consistency records, such as most 300-yard passing games. Most four-passing-touchdown games in a career. Dan Marino also never had a great supporting cast. He often was relied upon to drive the Dolphins to victory single-handedly.


Yeah, but...

Dan Marino was never a champion. Every quarterback on this list has won a league championship of some kind, except Marino. Marino's playoff record was a very average mark of 8-10.


Marino's nemesis was the Buffalo Bills; Kelly's Bills were always cutting short Marino's Super Bowl dreams. The fact that Marino is this high on this list without a championship, speaks volumes about his career. I wonder, what if he had won a Super Bowl?



No. 3- Johnny Unitas


26/30 lists



Key Stat- Selected to 10 Pro Bowls. When Unitas retired he owned virtually all NFL passing records. When Unitas retired he held the record for most wins by a starting quarterback. Holds the record for most consecutive games throwing a TD pass with 47. Super Bowl V Champion.


Johnny Unitas was the best passer of his time. Even his peers admitted it. Sid Luckman once said of Unitas; "He was better than me, better than Sammy (Baugh), better than all of us."


Unitas is known for his gritty toughness and field general leadership. Unitas didn't have big names around him and often defied the odds of losing. All of Unitas' records stood until the late 70's when Fran Tarkenton broke them.


In an age where there were no gaudy statistics, Unitas defied conventional wisdom.


Yeah, but...
Despite his toughness, Unitas was often injured. Even being forced to miss the majority of the 1968 season. Unitas' records are, for the most part, broken. However, his stats by the time of his retirement were far superior to anyone of his time. I wonder, what if Johnny Unitas had played 20 years later?


No. 2- Brett Favre

30/30 lists




*As of 11/12/2009


Key Stat- NFL's all-time leader in passing touchdowns, yards, completions and attempts. Most wins ever by a starting quarterback with 165. 261* consecutive regular season starts. 3 Consecutive NFL-MVP awards. Super Bowl XXXI Champion. 2nd in career playoff passing touchdowns, yards, completions and attempts. 38 fourth quarter comebacks, 2nd all-time.


When Brett Favre finally retires there is no denying that he is the most prolific quarterback in NFL history. Having broken virtually every single NFL passing record as well as Packers franchise records; Brett Favre has always been a gunslinger.


His arm strength is unmatched and his toughness undeniable. Amazingly, Brett Favre never threw more than 60 touchdowns to one single receiver. Brett Favre was at his best when in crunch time, his quarterback rating an astonishing 121.1 in the final two minutes of a half.


Yeah, but...

Brett Favre is the interception king. While his TD/INT differential is a very high +158, there is no denying Favre has lost games due to his interceptions. Namely the 2007 NFC Championship game.


Favre's monumental upset loss to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII ruined Favre's chances for multiple championships. Brett Favre is the ultimate quarterback in terms of records. He holds all the good...as well as the bad.


I wonder, what if Brett Favre had been given a Hall of Fame receiver?



Finally the moment has come. I need not give any introduction as you all know the name that will follow.


No. 1-Joe Montana, The Greatest NFL Quarterback of All-Time.
30/30 lists




Key Stat- 4-time Super Bowl Champion. 3-time Super Bowl MVP. 1st in NFL history for playoff passing touchdowns, yards, completions and attempts. A rating of 127.8 in Super Bowls. Never finished a season with a rating below 80.


Joe Montana's name is almost parallel to Super Bowl. His bone-chilling drive against the Bengals. His amazing 11 Super Bowl touchdown passes compared to zero interceptions. Joe Montana is the quarterback you want behind center with two minutes left in the game.


While Montana does not own any regular-season records, he owns just about every playoff passing record. A quarterback's job is to win and that is exactly what Montana did.


His mastery of the West Coast offense will never be matched by any quarterbacks of our day. Joe Montana never failed when he needed to win and that is why he is the greatest quarterback of all-time.


Yeah, but...

Jerry Rice.



Author's Thoughts on the list and submitted lists


I am honestly satisfied with the list. A very compelling argument can be made for each quarterback and why they are where they are. I have no problem with any of the spots, I feel each quarterback on this list is most deserving of the honor to be on the list.


Of the 30 lists I received there were only two that I did not think were very honest. I accepted them none the less. I am also so glad the top three quarterbacks had such a large difference in their point totals.


This meant that not one or two single list swayed the final list. I had lots of fun making this list and writing this article. I thank you all for reading. Of course I am not naive enough to think this list is final.


Please consider this your official invitation to express your opinions with comments below. I only ask that you keep them civil and don't get caught saying stupid stuff...such as Joe Namath should have been on the list....






Facts about the lists


-Brett Favre and Joe Montana were the only two quarterbacks to appear on all 30 lists

-The largest point difference between any two spots were between No. 2 (Brett Favre) and No. 3 (Johnny Unitas).

-Brett Favre, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning were the only currently active players to receive votes.

-Seven different quarterbacks received first place votes. Only one of those did not make the final list (Jim Kelly).

-Joe Montana received the most first place votes with nine, Brett Favre was second with eight.

-Brett Favre was voted higher than Joe Montana 13 times.

-13 NFC/NFL quarterbacks received votes, 11 AFL/AFC

-Fran Tarkenton was the quarterback that appeared on the most lists that did not make the final list, 14/30.

-Terry Bradshaw received the most 10th place votes with five.