As many of you have probably figured out, I am a sports junkie. Today at work we had a lively, bordering on heated, debate over all-time great quarterbacks. I know alot of you are football fans, so I figured I’d post my thoughts. I am ranking the top 10 quarterbacks since 1980, which is when I started watching football as a five year old.
1. Joe Montana: Simply put, the greatest quarterback I’ve ever watched. Growing up a diehard Niner fan, he amazed me week in and week out. He didn’t have the strongest arm or the most atheletic ability, but he could read defenses like no other and threw with the most beautiful touch of any QB ever to play the game.
2. Tom Brady: The second coming of Montana, Brady grew up idolizing the Niner legend. Brady and I were both watching Joe at the same time, pretending to be Joe cool in our backyards while tossing passes to an imaginary Jerry Rice. Brady became a quarterback. I, of course, didn’t.
The similaraties between the two players is eerie. Both were backups in college that rose to the occasion when they got their opportunities. Neither was a first round draft pick or part of their professional team’s future plans. Both played for coaches that are considered football genuises. Both were overshadowed early in their career by QB’s with better stats (Manning and Marino). Both are defined by their decision making under pressure and of course, Super Bowls.
Now that Brady finally has a receiving core that rivals that of the Colts, it’s going to be fun watching him fill up the stat line.
3. Steve Young: I know many of you are going to think that, as a 49ers fan, my bias is what placed Young this high. Let me start by saying that in the beginning, I despised Young. I was a Montana fan and found Young’s pandering for the starting job off putting.
In time a came to appreciate Young’s unique abilities. Not only was he a great, accurate quarterback, he was a leader. And of course, there were his legs. The Niners did not have a great offensive line. As banged up as he would get during games, I can’t imagine what would have happened to him without his running ability. I firmly believe he could have been an All-Pro running back if he wanted. In fact, Walsh was tempted to use him in that capacity while Young was backing up Montana. I don’t know if we’ll ever see a quarterback that that could run *and* pass at such a high level.
4. Peyton Manning: I don’t know if any quarterback has ever prepared for a game the way Manning does. When he steps back behind the center, you get the feeling that he knows everything that could happen on the field and has practiced for every remote possibility.
While Manning has a lively arm, it’s not a cannon. He just knows how to get the ball out and has the quickest release since Marino. We all know he’s going to break every record in the books. However, for Peyton to overtake Brady, he’s going to have to win some more Super Bowls.
5. Dan Marino: Bar none, the best pure passer to play the game, Marino had a cannon arm to go along with a quick release. It’s hard to believe that such an immobile guy had such low sack numbers.
It’s too bad Marino never made it back to the Super Bowl, after getting thumped in 1984 by my Niners. I honestly think he was part of the problem. The coaches relied too much on Marino, failing to develop a decent running game. On top of that, when they did run, Marino whined about not passing more. Still, I can’t deny Marino’s greatness.
The rest of the top 10:
6. Brett Favre
7. John Elway
8. Jim K elly
9. Kurt Warner
10. Dan Fouts
Honorable Mention: Boomer Esiason, Warren Moon, Rich Gannon, Carson Palmer, Jeff Garcia, Trent Green, Randall Cunningham
Overrated: Donavan McNabb, Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw