The Greatest Quarterback of All Time Is …..

NOT Peyton Manning.

So many experts, orgasmic from watching his 2013-14 performance, seem to have anointed P. Manning as the world’s greatest quarterback of all time. The naysayers say nay based only on the fact that he has merely won, through his long career, a single, solitary Super Bowl.

But there are other factors to consider, and there are other contenders, and a whole lot of pretenders, to that crown.

What factors should be considered and weighed the heaviest in making a determination as to who is the greatest QB to ever play the position in THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL



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LEAGUE, assuming for this argument’s sake, the greatest quarterback ever had to BE the greatest quarterback ever in THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE and not merely have become the GREATEST EVER playing in college, or, heaven forbid, the Canadian Football League.

Well, is it success in winning titles? If so, then in my mind, the greatest quarterback ever would not be P. Manning, and it would not be either Terry Bradshaw or Joe Montana, each the winner of four Super Bowls, or Troy Aikman, winner of three. Rather, it would be a QB who barely made it into the Super Bowl era, winning the first two of them, but before leading his team to three earlier NFL Championships, for a real

total of five. A workmanlike quarterback, he was not flashy, but never made a mistake on the field when it mattered. I give you, based on the criteria of winning titles, the greatest quarterback ever, Bart Starr.

But what if picking the greatest quarterback ever was based rather on the guys actual ability to play the game itself, you know, get the snap, look at the field, pick out a receiver, and posses the kind of arm and smarts to get him the ball, whether it be a short lofty toss to the flat, a thread-the-needle fastball between defenders, or a 60-plus yard monster downfield heave. This takes out of the equation to a great extent whether or not his team also has a great defense and a respectable running game, not to mention a decent coach, that are all needed to get a team even with a world class QB far into the playoffs. On this basis, the two greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game are two Dans, Dan Marino and Dan Fouts.

Laboring on teams with questionable defenses, Marino got to one Super Bowl, which his Dolphins lost, and Fouts’ Chargers never got to even one. But could those two guys play quarterback? Oh, could they.

These there is the record book. Use that criteria for deciding who is the greatest quarterback of all time and you have the problem of change – whose on


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top today may be second tomorrow. Almost all the career passing records are today held by the King of Interceptions, Brett Favre. He is the NFL’s all timer in pass attempts, passing yardage, and touchdowns. Should that make him the greatest quarterback of all time? What about that infamous and mysterious passer rating? Well, Aaron Rodgers is the NFL’s all time best in that category. So today, it looks like Favre, but maybe it’s really Rodgers, but what about a year from now? Manning is very close to Favre in these three categories, and ole P. Manning could have a couple of mediocre seasons and still pass Favre to be number one in yards, completions, and touchdowns. Would that then make him number one? Should he be number one then if he were to finish his career on a downturn and if he were truly NOT number one today?


Finally, in considering quarterbacks who have played over the past couple of decades as opposed to the guys from earlier years, two major considerations have to be taken into account. First is the changing number of games per season. Today’s 16 game regular season and long playoff format towers over the 12 game season the league played through 1960 and even the 14 game season

that existed until 1978. In the “old” days, there was a single title game, not weeks of post season play. Second and even more significant are the slew of new rules put into effect over the last few years to protect quarterbacks and to protect receivers, all of which have the net effect of making it significantly easier to throw and complete passes than in Starr’s era, or Marino’s era, or even the bulk of Favre’s era. That argument can be countered by the one that defenders are bigger and faster, and that the net effect with rule changes is neutral. Maybe that is correct, but it doesn’t seem so.

In any event, in my opinion, throw all of the above out the window, and accept the fact that Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time, with Joe Montana number two and Troy Aikman number three.

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