This list is going to generate quite a bit of controversy, but this is my list. My criteria is not only championships, but will include wins, yards, TD’s, completions, a player’s value to their team, toughness, leadership, their impact on the game, and their heart. If you don’t like it, post your reasons. But, this list is the correct list.
John Elway – Potentially top 5, but his best and most valuable years were prior to his championships. His two Super Bowl titles were on the backs of great defense and an incredible running game.
Peyton Manning – It’s hard not to include Manning on the top 5 considering his rocket of an arm, his championship, and the statistics he has put up. But I would bet that in a couple years, Manning will legitimately claim a spot on the top 5.
Bart Starr – Starr was a tough-as-nails QB who was the only QB with 5 NFL titles, 2 of those were the first two Super Bowls. He also won the MVP in the first two Super Bowls.
Terry Bradshaw – Bradshaw is the only 4 time Super Bowl champion QB. Like Starr, his TD to interception ratio was not that great, about 1:1. He was also erratic with his accuracy at times. However, his toughness, arm strength, and championships won makes his presence in this discussion inevitable.
#5. Joe Montana – What?!?! Montana is only #5? Yes, if championships alone are the criteria, I would make Montana still have Montana behind Brady and Starr, not much better than Bradshaw. But the truth is that every season Montana won it all, he was surrounded by superior offensive and defensive talent. He was a great QB, and people will continue to argue that he was the best, but some of the things that he was not known for was carrying the team by himself, flinging the ball all over the field, and turning out devastating numbers. With Rice, Clark, Craig, and a hot of other great weapons, many times he would throw the ball underneath and let them go to work.
#4. Tom Brady – Still very young with 3 Superbowl victories he could end up as the greatest QB ever. Brady is cool under pressure, tough as nails, but has a small knock against him. He has not had to carry his team yet.
#3. Dan Marino – I’m probably showing some bias here. Growing up, I watched Danny carry the Dolphins year after year, carving up defenses with the quickest release in NFL history. He was also famous for his game ending scoring drives and come from behind victories. Marino was not a runner, and had bad knees throughout his career. Regardless, he was perennially one of the least sacked QB’s. The reason is that he had a decent pass blocking O-line, but more importantly he had great instincts, vision, decision making skills, and reflexes. He could see the whole field, step into the pocket avoiding sacks, and had a super quick release. He set virtually every statistical career and single season record, many of them thought to be safe. Along came our #2 and took them away. He was also one of the most durable and reliable QB’s ever. Marino did it every year with nothing special on defense, and never really had much of a running back to work with. Marino’s knock that has haunted him was the fact that he never won a Super Bowl. After his Soph season in 84 when he lost the Super Bowl to San Fran, nobody would have thought that a return trip would never materialize.
#2. Brett Favre – Every major career stat that Marino had, Favre has surpassed. He is also the most durable and one of the toughest QB’s ever. Add a championship and great team leadership to that and you have the second greatest QB of all time. Nobody could rival the power he demonstrated at QB either. Many times that got him in trouble because he trusted his arm too much. But for every time he tried to force the ball where it could not go leading to a mistake, he created 10 magical moments. In 2008, he had one of his best statistical seasons, and was ready to hang up the cleats. Then the fire came back. We will see what he can do in a nasty Jets uniform.
#1. John Constantine Unitas – This man changed the way the game was played. Until Marino came along, he owned the record books, was totally clutch, had pinpoint accuracy, a cannon of an arm, and he won many big games. He was the model of the perfect QB for many years after he retired. He was a skilled field general, and the toughest QB of note. His 2 minute drill is still used today. He finished his career with 3 NFL championships, one of which was a Super Bowl victory.