Last updated at 12:45 p.m. on 2/14/12
Writing an opinion about the five greatest quarterbacks of all time is not an easy one and I’m sure to offend some fans who believe their favorite QB should be on the list.
One of the things that I had to consider is what might be relevant to me might not be to someone of another generation with a different perspective. I’ve been watching the NFL for over 30 years, so I do have some perspective.
So here’s my list from #5 to #1:
#5 John Elway
John Elway went to five Super Bowls, winning two of them. Elway made the playoffs in 10 out of his 16 years in the NFL, winning his championship rings in his last two years.
John Elway won both NFL and Super Bowl MVP honors and he was also known for his comebacks. He led his team to victory on a number of late 4th quarter drives (Including the playoffs).
If that wasn’t enough, Elway ranks second on the career wins list for an NFL QB and is a member of the NFL Hall of Fame.
#4 Dan Marino
Dan Marino never won a Super Bowl, losing his only appearance to the San Francisco 49ers.
That being said, Marino is one of the greatest QBs I’ve ever seen play and if he had played with an all-around team like the 49ers, who knows how many Super Bowls he would have won.
Watching him play was a joy, as he was my favorite player growing up. I only wish he could have won the big game. I might have ranked him higher if he had.
Marino seemed to be a sure bet to make the playoffs every season, leading his team to the postseason in 10 out of his 17 years as a pro. Marino’s records are too numerous to list but here are a few facts about his career:
A) He led his team to the most 4th quarter comeback wins in NFL history.
B) Most 400-yard games.
C) Most seasons with 40 or more touchdown passes.
D) Most seasons leading the league in completions.
He’s also in third place with the most passing yards in a season—he had the record (5,084) until it was broken this past season by Drew Brees and Tom Brady—and is second to Brett Favre for most touchdown passes in a career (420).
If that weren’t enough, Marino retired #1 with the most touchdown passes in an NFL season (48). That record has since been broken by Peyton Manning (49) and Brady (50).
Marino is a member of the NFL Hall of Fame.
#3 Peyton Manning
Now we start getting into the meat of the list, and this is where some fans might start to disagree with my ranking. Manning has been to two Super Bowls, winning one of them as a Super Bowl MVP.
If he is healthy, Manning will likely resume his career next season (as an Indianapolis Colt or somewhere else). He has about three years left in him and if he can win another Super Bowl, there’s a good chance he can move up in my rankings.
In the 13 seasons he’s played in—he was out with a neck injury for the whole 2011 season—he’s led his team to the playoffs 11 times. That’s an incredible statistic. In fact, the Indianapolis Colts were 10-6 in 2010 and were only 2-14 in 2011 without him. That’s with the roster being almost the same as the year before.
Manning’s accomplishments are also too numerous to list here but I attempted to list a few, so you could get a good understanding of what a great QB he is:
A) Most seasons with at least 25 touchdowns.
B) Most seasons with a perfect QB rating.
C) Only starter with nine straight seasons with 10+ wins.
Manning also holds the NFL record for most touchdowns by a rookie (26). Manning is sure bet to be a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee. What’s amazing about Manning is that his career isn’t over yet.
#2 Tom Brady
Like Manning, Brady’s career is not over, but he’s won three Super Bowls in five appearances. Brady’s teams have made it to the postseason in nine out of his 12 seasons—he did not play his rookie year in 2000 and suffered a season-ending injury in week one of the 2008 season. Brady probably has about four to five years left and if he wins another Super Bowl, he will then be the top ranked QB in my mind.
Brady is a winner and he’s an incredibly accurate passer. The guy must have ice in his veins, because nothing seems to rattle the guy.
Tom Brady holds NFL records for the most TDs in a season (50), most touchdowns in a quarter (5), most consecutive pass attempts without an interception and many more.
Brady has won the Super Bowl MVP award two times and has also been the AP NFL MVP two times.
Brady is sure to be a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee, and if I had a choice of taking an active QB for my team today, I would choose him.
#1 Joe Montana
I loved watching Montana play, except when he defeated Dan Marino and my Miami Dolphins in the Super Bowl. If you want to talk about a winner, Montana fits that bill. Of all the great QBs to play the game, I would take Joe Montana in his prime any day.
The SF QB won four Super Bowls, which is incredible! Montana is the only player to win three Super Bowl MVP awards, was selected to the Pro Bowl eight times, and is a Hall of Fame inductee.
Montana was named the AP NFL MVP twice in his career and has won Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year. In his 16-year NFL career, Montana led his team to the playoffs 11 times.
What’s most memorable in my mind is how he played in the Super Bowl and NFL playoffs. Once Montana made it to the big game, he was unbeatable. His four Super Bowl rings speak for themselves and the fact that he played great games in the Super Bowl speaks to his greatness.
So there are my top five greatest NFL quarterbacks of all time. No, Eli Manning didn’t make the cut. Eli has won two Super Bowl titles but his play throughout his career has been up and down. That was true at times this season as well. If Eli continues on the path he showed this season and wins one more Super Bowl, he might be ranked in the top five. We will have to see.