Do you miss the NFL season? With the deflate-gate scandal affecting Tom Brady’s legacy in the eyes of many, I took time to think to myself on if this really took a hit on Brady as being one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. Here is a look at five of the most talented quarterbacks to ever play the game:
5. Dan Marino (420 TD, 252 INT, 61,361 Yards)
After a dominant 17 year career with the Miami Dolphins, Marino practically took control of every passing record in the book in his time. In his 2nd year as a starting quarterback, Marino broke out of his shell, throwing for 48 touchdowns while maintaining a passer rating of 108.9. Over the course of his career, Marino was named a three-time first team All-Pro, along with nine Pro Bowl selections. If Marino had won a Super Bowl in his 17 years, there would be a much more serious debate on whether he was the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. Looking at the statistics alone, Marino holds 13 NFL records to this day, including the most career 400-plus yard passing games (13) and the most game-winning drives in the 4th quarter/overtime in a career with 51. When all is said and done, Marino started and finished with a great career, and it’s an honor to put him on this list.
4. Johnny Unitas (290 TD, 253 INT, 40,239 Yards)
Unitas is without a doubt is a special caliber quarterback. He lead the Colts to NFL titles in 1958, as well as 1959, and that’s just one stat that shows his ability to succeed in the NFL. Unitas left pro football with two championships, four MVP awards, five AP first-team All-Pro selections and 10 Pro Bowl selections. He left with a multitude of passing records earned while the NFL wanted to do 12 and 14 game seasons. The legacy of Unitas playing in what was known as “the greatest game ever played”, suggests that Unitas really did have that clutch factor, as the Colts went on to defeat the Giants in sudden death back in 1958 during the Super Bowl. Overall, Unitas was one of the best late game passers in NFL history and it will be unlikely that any future quarterback will remind fans of Unitas.
3. John Elway (300 TD, 226 INT, 51,475 Yards)
John Elway is an impressive man to say the least. He contains the third-most comebacks in NFL history, and also started in five different Pro Bowl games. Looking at overall production, Elway beat out Joe Montana when it came to touchdowns, yards and completions. What holds this 2004 Hall of Fame inductee out of the top two is the fact that Elway wasn’t able to get the job done as well when it came to winning the big games unlike others. Elway was 2-3 in the Super Bowl, and was 7.2% lower than Montana when it came to win percentage. All in all, Elway goes down as the greatest Broncos quarterback of all time, but is edged out when it comes to the best in NFL history.
2. Tom Brady (392 TD, 143 INT, 53,258 Yards)
This debate might be the most split decision in the history of sports. On Brady’s pro side, during his latest Super Bowl victory over the Seattle Seahawks, Brady trumped Montana’s record for most touchdown passes in the big game (13). Brady also had the opportunity to play in 6 more games than Montana, not to mention 5 more than any other quarterback in NFL history. In the postseason, Brady contains a 21-8 record, while Montana has a 16-7 record as a quarterback. So why isn’t Brady the best? In Brady’s era, a lot of more “protection” to the quarterback has been applied over the years. While Brady’s stats exceed Montana’s in multiple ways, look at the quarterbacks each team played in the Super Bowl. Brady has defeated quarterbacks like Kurt Warner, Jake Delhomme, Donovan McNabb and Russell Wilson in his four Super Bowls. Warner is still waiting for his turn to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, and Wilson has a ways to go. Montana beat John Elway and Dan Marino, two guys who are always hitting from the fringe in the greatest quarterback discussion, by a combined score of 93-26 in two Super Bowls. Brady lost three playoff games in a row at one point to the Giants, Jets, and Ravens. Those teams were solid without a doubt, but not on the level as
the “46” Bears or the Lawrence Taylor led Giants that Montana faced. It’s easy to argue for months on end that Brady is arguably the best quarterback of all time, but deflate-gate is just one of the few examples that holds Brady back from being the greatest of all time in the eyes of the majority of the nation.
1. Joe Montana (273 TD, 139 INT, 40,551 Yards)
The most obvious point that Montana fans love to make is that he never threw an interception in a Super Bowl. Let’s emphasis a point made earlier; Montana and Brady played in two different worlds, I believe that if Montana were to play in today’s NFL, he most likely would have a lot more than four Super Bowl wins. Montana proved to be the greatest of all time based on the players he defeated. The fact that Montana was able to succeed at the same level as Brady in an era where really football was a lot less protective of a quarterback, makes for a solid reason to call Montana the best. Brady without a doubt is a gem, and whether the Patriots have a tainted legacy in the minds of many, isn’t put into consideration at all. The fact of the matter is, Montana and Brady played similar styles, along with similar stats. The biggest realization that fans need to realize is; the fact that Montana played in arguably a tougher era of football, shows that he is the best to have ever played the game.