10 Greatest Quarterbacks Since 1980

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.

The top 5
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


3 thoughts on “10 Greatest Quarterbacks Since 1980

Add yours

  1. Wow, Elway is widely regarded as top 4-5 all time 🙂 So not sure how he is not top 5 in past 27 years.Fouts if he played on the east coast and/or winner would also be higher – he was basically marino right before marino. I am a UM grad so of course I love Marino but if you take Farve of most Green Bay teams they would of had 6-8 losses more a year, and no I am not from Wisconsin. Warner had a great 3 (4?) years – he is not ahead of these guys like Fouts or even Moon.I think in the end you put Marino/Elway/Montana/Farve in a bucket and all of them could be #1 with Young right behind. Peyton/Brady will enter their class in about 3-5 years – longevity means something. Seriously on Young vs Elway – Elway was Young with crappier support cast.I didnt see Scott Mitchell in there? I mean he only had 2 less great seasons than Warner lol.


  2. Tradermark,Warner only had 3 great years, but that thee year run is without peer, both statistically and team measures. Also remember that Warner’s early career was wasted by NFL scouts that didn’t understand his gifts. He would have had a lot more good seasons. I understand that this is a controversial pick. If I were starting a team, I would not take Elway ahead of any of the 6 guys ahead of him. Sorry, but no way Favre, Marino or Elway are in Montana’s class. If you want to debate this, I’m game. Elway was not the accurate passer that Young was. Career 56 percent vs Young’s. Also not as careful with the ball. Young’s TD to int. ratio blows Elway away. And then take a look at yards/attempt, one of the most important stats in evaluating qb play. Young’s is almost a full yard higher. As for supporting class, I’ll give Young the edge, but Elway was not playing with bad teams. The three amigos, Shannon Sharpe, a bunch of thousand yard backs (including TD), a great offensive line, some excellent defenses and he competed in a weaker conference. Brady and Manning have plaid long enough to prove how good they are.


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