Saturday, January 30, 2010

Who are the Top 10 Pro Quarterbacks Ever?

First, read Kyle's post bidding a fond farewell to Kurt Warner, who rides off into retirement with his head held high.

Then, get serious with some barstool palaver and list your all-time top 10 pro QBs -- in order -- in the comments.

The list I shared with Kyle last night:
  1. Montana
  2. Manning
  3. Favre
  4. Unitas
  5. Elway
  6. Marino
  7. Brady
  8. Young
  9. Aikman
  10. Tarkenton
Mind you, I swapped around the order three times before I hit "send" on that tweet -- and then swapped Manning and Favre again for this post. It's a hard question to answer.

(For the record, if Manning wins next week, he goes to my top spot as the hybrid of a Montana-style winner, a Marino-style stat monster, and an Elway-style come-from-behind artist.)

By the way, I keep wondering whether I haven't slighted Warren Moon here. Hmm . . .

Anyway . . . let the arguments begin!


(Image source.)


Chuck said...

Tim -

Agree with most of your list, but also feel like Warren Moon deserves some consideration.

I'm sure someone will come here and filet me for saying this, but I think Kurt Warner deserves some consideration for this list. He's won a Super Bowl, something that Marino and Tarkenton did not achieve. He also has three of the best statistical games in the history of the Super Bowl, which is no small feet. He'd have two Super Bowl rings if his defensive would've stopped Pittsburgh on that final drive. Not only that, but the man resurrected himself from the dead on 2 separate occasions. He completed 66% of his passes compared to Fran's 57%, and has a better TD to INT ratio than Fran.

Anyway, let the debate begin

John McTigue said...

What about Bradshaw? Bart Starr? Bob Griese?

Robbie C said...

When I saw you post this on Twitter, I made my list before reading your post:

My list (not in order):

Joe Montana
Warren Moon
Tom Brady
Peyton Manning
Brett Favre
Steve Young
Dan Marino
Dan Fouts
Bart Starr
Otto Graham

Really like Graham on this list. In 10 years, he led his Cleveland Browns to 10 Championship games, winning 7 of those games.

Anonymous said...
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Bryan Person said...

I'm not enough of a football not or student of the game to even get into an educated debate on this. But, Tim, I would like to know why you rank Favre as highly as you do?

Bill Church said...


Jim Storer said...

I took a look around the internets and found an pretty neat in-depth analysis on the topic:

While a find a few flaws in the formula (i.e. not enough credit for a Super Bowl loss), it's hard to argue with the result.

If I was building a team around a QB in their prime for the current game, I'd pick 'em in this order:

1. Joe Montana
2. Peyton Manning
3. Dan Marino
4. Tom Brady
5. John Elway
6. Brett Favre
7. Steve Young
8. Otto Graham
9. Johnny Unitas
10. Terry Bradshaw

There's one pro QB that doesn't hit the radar on any top QB analysis, but warrants mention. Doug Flutie. Sure, he put up a lot of his #'s in the CFL, but his career #'s are right there with the top guys on this list.

241 games played
58,179 Passing Yards
58.9 completion %
451 Total TD's (82 rushing!)
3 Grey Cup wins
He was inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility

When you plug his #'s into the formula above it falls apart because while he was a pro for 20 years, many of those we spent as a back-up. Anyhow, I'd consider him in my top 15-20 given his achievements in an age built for 6' 5" passing machines. Imagine him in the 50's or 60's?

Jim Storer said...

Here's URL to the analysis:

Tim Walker said...

To answer your question, Bryan:

~Favre holds every meaningful cumulative passing record -- TDs, yards, receptions, games at QB, etc. (Also INTs, which is the knock against him.)

~He won one Superbowl and lost another that could have been his but for Elway's heroics. (So, not as much credit as if he had won both SBs -- but not *much* less.)

~Three league MVP awards, which was a record until Manning matched and surpassed it.

Ellen Rossano said...


No Joe Namath? Just kidding. I'm glad to see that Bradshaw, Unitas, Merino and some of the "greats" are listed here. I'd include Doug Flutie for heart and determination if nothing else.
I have a personal bias here. My Dad was a sportswriter/editor for the New Bedford Standard-Times for 38 years. His last interview before he passed away was with Gerald Phelan, the guy who caught Flutie's epic "Hail Mary" pass. Dad covered Phelan when he play high school football and arranged the interview with Gerald's mom, being very clear that it wasn't just an excuse to interview Flutie.
Gerald Phelan agreed to the interview, took Dad on a tour of his dorm room and the locker room, made sure Flutie was there, and then invited my Dad to have dinner with the BC team.
My Dad had a blast, and sadly, that was the last story he ever published.
I had the chance to run on the field of Schaefer Stadium (pre-Gillette for all you kids) before it opened and saw many games there.

Who are you picking in the Super Bowl?

Tim Walker said...


I'm thinking more about Flutie, and I don't think he cracks my top 20.

Do I like him? Absolutely -- hell of a player. I loved him in his college days, and was perplexed that it took so long for him to make it into the NFL. (His case is another example that indicates the thorough conservatism of most sports management.)

But let's think it through. After my top ten, I'd have to put Flutie behind AT LEAST Moon, Bradshaw, Starr, Fouts, Warner, Graham, Baugh, Staubach, Simms, and Kelly, plus maybe Starr, Griese, and Jurgensen.

He has to beat some of those guys to make the top 20, and I just don't see it.

Tim Walker said...

Thanks for sharing that great story, Ellen!

I'm picking the Colts, but not by much. Could be a great game.

KFFBOS said...

I've thought about this for a while now and did a TON of research throughout last night and today. Here is my numerical list of the top 25 NFL/AFL QBs of all time:

1) Manning
2) Montana
3) Brady
4) Favre
5) Marino
6) Young
7) Elway
8) Tarkenton
9) Unitas
10) Fouts
11) Moon
12) Griese
13) Bradshaw
14) Warner
15) Cunningham
16) Kelly
17) Starr
18) Jurgensen
19) Staubach
20) Esiason
21) Stabler
22) Theismann
23) Dawson
24) Simms
25) Anderson

Couple of notes:

The old timers are certainly hurt on this list since I truly believe they could not even hold the cleats of the players of the 90s-00s (and most have publicly stated such).

I weighted Super Bowls, League Championships and Division Championships heavily. MVPs and and All-Pro awards were also taken into consideration.

Manning and Brady get extra points for basically acting as default offensive coordinators as well as QBs, that is a very underrated story right now.

I put Brady in front of Favre because of the 3 rings and 4 I'm a homer and Brady doesn't wear Wrangler jeans...there, I said it.

Steve Young gets a ton of extra points because some of his numbers are lost in the depths of the USFL and the swamp called Tampa Bay.

Jim Kelly wins 2 of those 4 SBs and the guy is in the top 10.

And for you Pats fans...Grogan is #26 :)

Aaron_Strout said...

Sorry it's taken me so long to get around to this. I've thought a lot about it and I think you've captured most of who I would have in my top 10 Tim. Although I strongly disagree that Favre's #3 MAINLY because of all the interceptions (often at the most inopportune times -- two weeks ago as a case in point).

Yes, I'm a homer like Kyle but you really have to have Brady higher up than you do if only because the guy has been a football god when he's healthy. Essentially, he's gone to the Superbowl in 50% of the years he's played in the league, has one of the winningest percentages of all times and only dropped off this year because his knee got sawed in half last year.

Going back to the year before the knee injury (2007), we was the most feared QB in the league (yes, even more so than Payton Manning that year) and likely would have continued in that same vein had aforementioned injury not happened.

Now there was a time that I would argue that Brady should have been above Manning (pre-ring) but what Manning has done this year with a patchwork O-line, beat up defense and a new coach has greatly improved my respect for him as best of all time. He wins a SB trophy this year and he's eliminated all questions (although if Brady goes on to win 3 more SB rings, I might reconsider).

So just for fun, let's look at the top 5 LEAST likely QBs to win a Superbowl:
1) Trent Dilfer - Ravens 2000
2) Doug Williams - Redskins 1987
3) Jim McMahon - Bears 1985
4) Brad Johnson - TB 2002
5) Mark Rypien - Redskins 1991