12 Most Qualitatively Awesome Quarterbacks of All Time!
I am looking for the “next great debate” in the comment section of this post. I originally intended to write a post on my 12 Most Favorite Athletes…which became 12 Most Favorite Football Players…which narrowed down to 12 Most Qualitatively Awesome Quarterbacks of All Time! Let me tell you, it is tough to find suitable adjectives/adverbs that start with “q”. I did not think these men would appreciate being called “queenly” or something much worse!
I base this list on who I feel had a big impact for their team or just helped to grow my love for the sport. You will see some quarterbacks listed who were wildly successful in college but may or may not make it at the next level. You will also pick-up on some noticeable exceptions that do not make the list that are considered GOATs (Greatest Of All Time) by others.
Enjoy…and comment, of course!
1. Troy Aikman
Troy Aikman is my favorite quarterback of all time. I caught the tail-end of Roger Staubach’s career, and then I watched Danny White have success but never win the big one. Then Aikman came into the league and spent the first few years on his backside while the Cowboys built up an offense. After fighting off the Steve Walsh competition (didn’t he play for The Eagles…no that was Joe Walsh), he went on to win three Super Bowls. He displayed accuracy, durability through 11 concussions, and a leadership to hold his teammates accountable. FYI, I also like him as a color commentator for today’s NFL football games.
2. Colt McCoy
Colt McCoy had the tough task of following Vince Young after Vince won a National Championship for the University of Texas. However, I always thought Colt was a far better quarterback. He should have played in two national championships, but the “broken BCS” sent Oklahoma to the national championship game in 2008 even though Texas beat OU by 10 points that year! He got Texas back to the national championship the next year, and he was knocked out of the game in the first offensive series! I also thought he was a more complete quarterback than Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow yet both of them beat Colt in the Heisman races. I think he will flourish in the NFL in the right system (fingers crossed).
3. Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning has been the class of the NFL his entire career. After finally “getting over the hump” and winning a Super Bowl in 2006, he had the complete resume. He should have won a second Super Bowl in 2009, but the rookie Indy head coach played too conservatively and the Colts lost to the New Orleans Saints. Peyton is well-spoken and is a superb role model and face of the NFL. His understanding of his offense, and the ability to call the plays in-game, are unparalleled. I only hope his career doesn’t end prematurely based upon the after-effects of his neck surgery.
4. Drew Brees
Drew Brees was cast off by the San Diego Chargers, and the New Orleans Saints are grateful! Besides guiding the Saints to their first Super Bowl win in 2009, he was the perfect quarterback for a region hit hard by Hurricane Katrina. Brees should be the face of the New Orleans franchise for a few more years, and he will be part of Saints lore forever. He is an intelligent, accurate, and vocal leader for his team.
5. Aaron Rodgers
Is Aaron Rodgers the class of the NFL right now? He rode the pine for three years behind an iconic (and I think over-rated) Brett Favre. Rodgers is now the most efficient quarterback in the NFL for one of the most prolific offenses. He graciously deflects all comparisons to Favre even though he knows he will probably far exceed Favre’s success if not his longevity. He is an ideal, squeaky-clean quarterback for a small-market team with a wholesome image.
6. John Elway
Even though I grew up a Dallas Cowboys fan, I still admired John Elway. It seemed like he single-handedly got the Denver Broncos to three Super Bowls in the 1980’s, and he was destroyed by the Giants, Redskins and 49’ers. However, he prevailed to win consecutive Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998 and has a signature play that shows up on just about every NFL highlight reel.
7. Vince Young
Vince Young won Rookie of the Year when he came out of college, but he has struggled since then. Part of those struggles originated when he started hearing the crowd boo him and his team while playing for the Tennessee Titans. Vince was previously accustomed to a loving fan base because he was a legend at the University of Texas on his way to a national championship and 2nd place showing in Heisman voting. His individual abilities, and will to win, were extraordinary to behold when beating Michigan in the Rose Bowl in 2005 and beating USC for the National Championship in 2006. I hope he comes out of his funk at the pro level.
8. Tim Tebow
Has there been a bigger lightning rod in the NFL than Tim Tebow? His fundamentals are terrible, he has days he can’t throw the ball in the ocean, he was getting sacked like potatoes in his first two games that he started in 2011, and people ridicule his faith and values…and he just keeps winning with grit followed by a smile and humility. He makes my list because of his great attitude and compassion off the field. He also won a Heisman and a couple of National Championships in college!
9. Joe Montana
Joe Montana earned his nickname of Joe Cool. His calm demeanor and leadership took the San Francisco 49ers to four Super Bowl wins and produced a legendary play simply called “The Catch” (which hurts to mention as a Cowboys fan). I also enjoyed his duel against John Elway in a 1994 Monday Night Football game. Incredible drama with Montana coming out on top!
10. Tom Brady
Tom Brady is one of those guys I would prefer to root against. His career is truly the stuff of legend, and he is Mister GQ of the NFL, but I always vote for Peyton Manning as the better quarterback between the two. I think Manning would have as many Super Bowls in that New England system. However, Brady’s accuracy and leadership are undeniable. He has also shown a willingness to defer salary to get better teammates around him. I always value the player that places a priority on team goals versus self.
11. Dan Marino
Dan Marino will always be known as having one of the fastest releases in the game. Most pundits would probably put him in the top 5 quarterbacks of all time. I really wish he could have won a Super Bowl because he put up incredible statistics and carried a Miami Dolphins team many times.
12. Tony Romo
Tony Romo narrowly edges out Jim Kelly, and I guess that is because I still follow the Dallas Cowboys (even though the Denver Broncos are my #1 team nowadays). Jim Kelly had four Super Bowl appearances and brought a linebacker mentality to the quarterback position. I loved it!! However, I enjoy the accuracy, fun and creativity that Tony Romo can bring to a game. He is in one of the most brutal football markets when it comes to the fans and the press passing harsh judgment. Yet he generally carries himself with a smile as he graciously accepts criticism. I hope he gets a championship sometime in his career.
Others that did not make the short list even though I still appreciate what they brought to their team and the game: Jim Kelly, Roger Staubach, Danny White, Jim McMahon, Boomer Esiason, Kurt Warner, Warren Moon, Dan Fouts, and Doug Flutie.
Others that did not have enough of the selfless, or at least inspirational, leadership to make my longer list include Brett Favre, Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Cutler, and Philip Rivers. Steve Young was a great quarterback, but I thought he was over-rated compared to Troy Aikman.
Any noticeable omissions that you would like to add to the comments? Here is a great list to jog your memory: Quarterbacks by Passer Rating