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Top 10 Best NFL Quarterbacks



Described by legendary coach Tom Landry as "possibly the best combination of a passer, an athlete and a leader to ever play in the NFL," Roger Staubach was key in earning his Dallas Cowboys the title of "America's Team." He led the team to nine of the its record-setting twenty consecutive winning seasons and engineered victories in Super Bowl VI and Super Bowl XII. Staubach was named Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl VI and finished his career with a passer rating of 83.4 -- No. 1 all time among pre-1980 quarterbacks.

When Cleveland Browns QB Otto Graham retired, coach Paul Brown said: "The test of a quarterback is where his team finishes. By that standard, Otto Graham is the best of all time." After joining the Browns in 1946, Graham led his team to the league championship game in every one of his 10 seasons, winning seven times. During the AAFC's four-year existence, the Browns won the championship each year as Graham threw for 10,085 yards and 86 touchdowns and rushed for 11 more. He won the league's Most Valuable Player award in 1947 and 1948, and finished his career with an amazing 105-17-4 record!


After several temporary retirements, Brett Favre finally finished his career holding every single volume passing record in NFL history: completions, attempts, yards, TDs and even INTs. He is the only quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 70,000 yards, over 500 touchdowns, over 300 interceptions, and over 10,000 pass attempts. Also one of the great "iron men" in league history, Favre boasts an NFL record 297 consecutive starts (321 including playoffs). He is the only player to win the AP Most Valuable Player three consecutive times (1995–97). He has led teams to eight division championships (1995, 1996, 1997, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2009), five NFC Championship Games (1995, 1996, 1997, 2007, 2009), and two Super Bowl appearances (Super Bowl XXXI, Super Bowl XXXII), winning one (Super Bowl XXXI).


With one of the strongest arms the NFL has ever seen, John Elway enjoyed a remarkable career that allowed him to retire as (statistically) the second most prolific passer in NFL history in 1999. At that time, he held the record for most victories by a starting quarterback. Elway led his teams to six AFC Championship Games and five Super Bowls. Although he lost his first three championship games, he won back-to-back Super Bowls to finish his career, earning Super Bowl MVP honors in the final game. He is remembered for what is considered by many sport historians to be one of the most clutch and iconic performances in NFL history when, in 1987, he engineered the Broncos' 98-yard, game-tying touchdown drive in the AFC Championship Game against the Cleveland Browns. The moment is known in National Football League lore as "The Drive".


Best remembered for his quick release and powerful arm, Dan Marino led the Dolphins to the playoffs ten times in his seventeen-season career and was named NFL Most Valuable Player in 1984. A statistical juggernaut, Marino has always been plagued by the same argument--that he cannot be considered the best quarterback because he never won a Super Bowl. Still, it's hard to argue with his numbers. Marino held, at one time, almost every major NFL passing record in the books. He was the first QB in NFL history to have six 4,000-yard seasons (1984–86, 1988, 1992, 1994), the first to pass for 5,000 or more yards in a single season (5,084 in 1984), and the first to throw 40+ TD passes in a season twice (48 in 1984, 44 in 1986).


At the height of his powers, Steve Young may have been the most unstoppable quarterback in the history of the game. He could make plays with his feet as well as his arm. Young was named the Most Valuable Player of the NFL in 1992 and 1994, and the MVP of Super Bowl XXIX. He led the league in passer rating an unequaled six times, including four straight seasons from 1991 to 1994, and topped the 100 passer-rating mark in all four of those seasons.


Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas was known simply as "The Golden Arm". The league’s MVP in 1959, 1964, and 1967, he threw for over 40,000 yards in a time of 12 and 14 game seasons in an era when teams were just starting to think beyond three yards and a cloud of dust. He had ten Pro Bowl selections and won the Pro Bowl MVP award three times, and his record of throwing a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games (between 1956-1960) remains unsurpassed.


During his first six years in the NFL, Tom Brady produced three Super Bowl championships, two Super Bowl MVP awards, a record 21-game win streak, a TD passing title (28 in 2002, his first full season as a starter) and a passing yardage title (4,110 in 2005). Then came 2007, the season by which all other QB seasons may come to be judged: a record 50 TD passes (to just 8 interceptions!), 4,860 yards, third most all time, 117.2 passer rating, second best all time, and, of course, the chance to become the first quarterback to lead a team to a 19-0 record. Of course, the Patriots fell one game short, coming up three points shy of a Super Bowl victory against the New York Giants, still, there’s never been a season in the history of the game that combined such raw, dizzying numbers with the ultimate stat: victories.


Nicknamed "Joe Cool" for his ability to remain calm under pressure, Joe Montana played in eight Pro Bowls and was named league MVP in 1989 and 1990. In four Super Bowl appearances, he was 4-0 and earned MVP honors in three of those games. The highest-rated passer in Super Bowl history at 127.8, Montana attempted 122 passes and never threw an interception in the championship game. During his remarkable career, Montana helped his team to 31 fourth quarter come-from-behind wins. His game winning touchdown pass in the 1982 NFC Championship game (known simply as "The Catch") is regarded as one of the best plays of all time.


One of the smartest quarterbacks of all-time, Peyton Manning is known for using the no huddle offense to great effect. His detractors argue that he doesn’t play well in the postseason, but that argument became much more difficult to make after he picked up a Super Bowl title (and Super Bowl MVP award) in Super Bowl XLI. Manning has simply racked up numbers faster than any quarterback in the history of football--even faster than the original QB stat monster, Dan Marino. Already, he holds NFL records for most NFL MVP awards, consecutive seasons with 4,000 or more yards passing, most total seasons with 4,000 or more yards passing, and the highest single-season passer rating ever (121.1 in 2004)--and he is on pace to shatter every single passing record in the history of the game.

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