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The Fifteen Greatest Quarterbacks in NFL History

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peyton manning on his possible retirement following super bowl win im going to drink a lot of budweiser tonight 560x280After the 2015 NFL season, the NFL lost a true legend at the QB position, Peyton Manning. He retired after 17 seasons, two Super Bowl rings, five NFL MVP awards, and about 5,000 NFL passing records. He waited until he won that coveted second Super Bowl ring before hanging up his cleats and that has brought us to today.

With only a few QBs left in the NFL that belong in this discussion, we thought it would be a perfect time to give our opinion on who is the greatest NFL QB of all time, one of the most heated debates that a football fan can get into.

tom brady ftr twitter 061415 12r0mtmdc6qpj11a5ehe22q1uo 560x315Tom Brady won his fourth Super Bowl and it started to look as if maybe he was the easy choice but what if you measured more than just winning Super Bowls?

Michael Jordan and LeBron James can take over a game and lead their teams to a championship, but that’s basketball. They can play both sides of the court.

In football, the QB is the manager of the offense but has no control over the defense. Even if Dan Marino threw for 10,000 yards in a season, he still wasn’t going to be playing defense.

Let’s take a look at the Top 15 NFL QuarterBacks of All-Time.

15. Drew Brees (2001-Present)

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Teams: San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints

  • Super Bowls: 1 (XLIV)
  • Super Bowl MVP: 1 (XLIV)
  • All-Pro Selections: 4
  • Pro Bowls: 9

Regular Season

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
124-95 5,458 66.4% 61,965 436 206 96 281.7 26 38

Playoffs

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
6-5 306 65.9% 3,539 24 6 100.7 321.7 2 3

The number of records Drew Brees owns is second only to Peyton Manning. During Week 2 of this season, he passed up Dan Marino on the all time passing yards list and is now in 3rd place behind Brett Favre and Peyton Manning. His accuracy is legendary and he has changed the future for small pocket passing QBs in the NFL.

14. Troy Aikman (1989-2000)

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Team: Dallas Cowboys

  • 2006 Pro Football Hall of Fame
  • Super Bowls: 3-0 (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX)
  • Super Bowl MVP: 1 (XXVII)
  • All-Pro Selections: 1
  • Pro Bowls: 6

Regular Season

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
94-71 2,898 61.5% 32,942 165 141 81.6 199.6 16 21

Playoffs

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
11-4 320 63.7 % 3,849 23 17 88.3 240.6 1 1

From 1992 to 1996, Troy Aikman did all he needed to do in his 12 year career to earn himself the title of one of the best NFL QBs ever. Not only did he win 3 Super Bowls in those five years, he threw for 15,000 yards, 79 TDs, and ended up with a record of 56-19.

13. Fran Tarkenton (1961-1978)

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Teams: Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants

  • 1986 Pro Football Hall of Fame
  • MVP: 1
  • Super Bowls: 0-3
  • All-Pro Selections: 2
  • Pro Bowls: 9

Regular Season

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
124-109 3,686 57% 47,003 342 266 80.4 191.1 30 34

Playoffs

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
6-5 149 51% 1,803 11 17 58.6 163.9 1 1

Fran Tarkenton was passing the ball and had the most passing yards in NFL history from 1977 to 1995 when Dan Marino passed him up. If he could have figured out a way to win at least one Super Bowl, he was 0-3 in the big game, then maybe he could have climbed a little higher on the list.

12. Aaron Rodgers (2000-Present)

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Team: Green Bay Packers

  • MVP: 2
  • Super Bowls: 1-0 (XLV)
  • Super Bowl MVP: 1
  • All-Pro Selections: 3
  • Pro Bowls: 5

Regular Season

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
82-40 2,688 64.9% 33,016 264 66 104.0 255.9 10 14

Playoffs

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
7-6 298 63.8% 3,454 27 8 98.2 246.7 1 1

At only 32 years old, Aaron Rodgers has put himself in position to become the greatest of all-time. He already owns one Super Bowl title and has a lot of football left. His accuracy and efficiency is among the greatest of all-time too. He has an incredible 264 Touchdowns to 66 Interceptions, that is a 4 to 1 difference and is almost twice as good as Steve Young, who is the current retired leader in that category.

11. Terry Bradshaw (1970-1983)

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Team: Pittsburgh Steelers

  • 1997 Pro Football Hall of Fame
  • MVP: 1
  • Super Bowls: 4-0 (IX, X, XIII, XIV)
  • Super Bowl MVP: 2
  • All-Pro Selections: 1
  • Pro Bowls: 3

Regular Season

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
107-51 2,025 51.9% 27,989 212 210 70.9 166.6 19 27

Playoffs

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
14-5 261 57.2% 3,833 30 26 83 201.7 4 4

Back when Terry Bradshaw was playing, he didn’t have to throw the ball often. He had a great defense and an even better running game, however, he won four Super Bowls and belongs near the top ten at least.

10. Otto Graham (1946-1955)

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Team: Cleveland Browns

  • 1965 Pro Football Hall of Fame
  • MVP: 3
  • NFL Championships: 3 (1950, 1954, 1955)
  • AAFC Titles: 4
  • All-Pro Selections: 5
  • Pro Bowls: 5

Regular Season

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
57-13 1,464 55.8% 23,584 174 135 86.6 187.2 1 2

Playoffs

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
9-3 159 53% 2,101 14 17 67.4 175.1 1 2

Based on his numbers, Otto Graham was the first to really begin throwing the ball instead of settling for the run. But the most important takeaway about Otto Graham is that he won seven championships before the Super Bowl became a thing.

9. Roger Staubach (1969-1979)

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Team: Dallas Cowboys

  • 1985 Pro Football Hall of Fame
  • Super Bowls: 2-2 (VI, XII)
  • Super Bowl MVP: 1 (VI)
  • Pro Bowls: 6

Regular Season

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
85-29 1,685 57% 22,700 153 109 83.4 173.3 15 23

Playoffs

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
11-6 223 54.4% 2,791 24 19 76 139.6 2 2

Ask anyone in Dallas who they think is the greatest QB of all time and they will say Roger Staubach. Let them sell it to you too. He was great and is one of the best ever but they seem to think he was the top. But he did bring Dallas to four Super Bowls and that is something that is hard to match.

8. Steve Young (1985-1999)

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Teams: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers

  • 2005 Pro Football Hall of Fame
  • MVP: 2
  • Super Bowls: 2-0 (XXIV, XXIX)
  • Super Bowl MVP: 1 (XXIX)
  • All-Pro Selections: 6
  • Pro Bowls: 7

Regular Season

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
94-49 2,667 64.3% 33,124 232 107 96.8 196 14 17

Playoffs

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
8-6 292 62% 3,326 20 13 85.8 151.2 1 1

After Joe Montana, Steve Young popped up with the difficult job of replacing a legend by the Bay. The left-handed scrambler quickly laid all that to rest and it wasn’t long before he had San Francisco celebrating another Super Bowl title.

7. Dan Marino (1983-1999)

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Team: Miami Dolphins

  • 2005 Pro Football Hall of Fame
  • MVP: 1
  • Super Bowls: 0-1
  • All-Pro Selections: 7
  • Pro Bowls: 9

Regular Season

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
147-93 4,967 59.4% 61,361 420 252 86.4 253.6 36 51

Playoffs

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
8-10 385 56% 4,510 32 24 77.1 250.6 3 4

If Dan Marino had won a Super Bowl, just one, then he would be in the top three and that is just sad. The man was an incredible QB that turned players like Mark Duper into Hall of Famers. His lack of a postseason title has been argued as his downfall and why he is not one of the greatest and that makes sense. The Super Bowl is the reason we play 16 games each year. The stats only matter if you can win that last game.

6. Johnny Unitas (1956-1973)

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Teams: Baltimore Colts, San Diego Chargers

  • 1979 Pro Football Hall of Fame
  • MVP: 4
  • Super Bowls: 1-1 (V)
  • NFL Championships: 3 (1958, 1959, 1968)
  • All-Pro Selections: 7
  • Pro Bowls: 10

Regular Season

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
118-63 2,830 54.6% 40,239 290 253 78.2 190.7 27 29

Playoffs

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
6-2 120 53.1% 1,663 7 10 68.9 184.8 2 2

Long before anyone else was passing the football in a Colts uniform, Johnny Unitas was dominating football. Before Peyton Manning, Mr.Unitas held the NFL record for the most MVPs with 4 and is now in 2nd place all time.

5. Brett Favre (1991-2010)

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Teams: Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, Minnesota Vikings

  • 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame
  • MVP: 3
  • Super Bowls: 1-1 (XXXI)
  • All-Pro Selections: 6
  • Pro Bowls: 11

Regular Season

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
186-112 6,300 62% 71,838 508 336 86 237.9 30 45

Playoffs

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
13-11 481 60.8% 5,855 44 30 86.3 244 2 2

Brett Favre changed the sport of football. He didn’t make it pretty but he found a way to win and to put his teams in situations that could get them a title. His gun slinging style with his bullet like speed made him fearless when throwing the ball, which is probably why he has 336 interceptions.

4. John Elway (1983-1998)

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Team: Denver Broncos

  • 2004 Pro Football Hall of Fame
  • MVP: 1
  • Super Bowls: 2-3 (XXXII, XXXIII)
  • Super Bowl MVP: 1 (XXXIII)
  • All-Pro Selections: 2
  • Pro Bowls: 9

Regular Season

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
148-82 4,123 56.9% 51,475 300 226 79.9 220 35 46

Playoffs

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
14-7 355 54.5% 4,964 27 21 79.7 225.6 4 6

When John Elway was drafted by the Baltimore Colts, he chose to go play baseball instead, he was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 2nd round of the 1981 MLB draft. He didn’t want to play for Frank Kush or the league’s worst team, the Colts. So he left the sport if he didn’t get what he wanted until he finally did and was sent to Denver where he would become a legend in Colorado.

3. Peyton Manning (1998-2016)

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Teams: Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos

  • MVP: 5
  • Super Bowls: 2-2 (XLI, 50)
  • Super Bowl MVP: 1 (XLI)
  • All-Pro Selections: 10
  • Pro Bowls: 14

Regular Season

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
186-79 6,125 65.3% 71,940 539 251 96.5 270.5 45 56

Playoffs

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
14-13 649 63.2% 7,339 40 25 87.4 271.8 2 2

Now that his 17 year career has finally come to an end, Peyton Manning can now be considered among the greatest to ever play the game. From his ability to rip apart the opponent’s defense to his incredible passing skills, he has earned the title of being among the top three of all-time.

2. Joe Montana (1979-1994)

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Teams: San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs

  • 2000 Pro Football Hall of Fame
  • MVP: 3
  • Super Bowls: 4-0 (XVI, XIX, XXIII, XXIV)
  • Super Bowl MVP: 3 (XVI, XIX, XXIV)
  • All-Pro Selections: 5
  • Pro Bowls: 8

Regular Season

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
117-47 3,409 63.2% 40,551 273 139 92.3 211.2 31 33

Playoffs

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
16-7 460 62.7% 5,772 45 21 95.6 251 5 5

For a few years, the argument about who is the best NFL QB of all time was between Joe Montana or Tom Brady. It was based on many factors but mostly, postseason success. Joe Montana is one of the most clutch QBs in NFL history and is great, don’t forget about that.

1. Tom Brady (2000-Present)

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Team: New England Patriots

  • MVP: 2
  • Super Bowls: 4-2 (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX)
  • Super Bowl MVP: 3 (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XLIX)
  • All-Pro Selections: 4
  • Pro Bowls: 11

Regular Season

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
172-51 4,953 63.6% 58,028 428 150 96.4 257.9 37 48

Playoffs

Record Comp Comp % Yards TD Int Rate Yds/Gm 4QC GWD
22-9 738 62.4% 7,957 56 28 88 256.7 6 9

The only reason Tom Brady gets the nod is because he still has a couple more seasons before calling it a career and he has the best shot at winning 1-2 more Super Bowls. He has been to six Super Bowls and is a winner, plain and simple. If he wins one more, he just might end the debate, with ease.

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