Who’s the greatest QB of all-time?


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Talk of Fame Network

The quarterback is the most important player on the football field. That’s why he gets paid the $100 million contracts and, at season’s end, collects the NFL MVP award. That’s been the case in 38 of the 57 years the Associated Press has been selecting an MVP. It’s become a quarterback’s award and a quarterback’s game.

So that’s where we’re heading in this week’s Talk of Fame Network poll. Who is the greatest quarterback of all time? Is it the guy with all the records or all the rings? So who is it — Unitas? Montana? Brady? Graham? Manning? Baugh? It’s your call. Here’s the slate of candidates:

Sammy Baugh. A member of the NFL’s 75th anniversary team and also the 1940s all-decade team. The sixth overall pick of the 1937 NFL draft who went on to win an NFL-record six passing titles. He spent his entire 16-year career in Washington and quarterbacked the Redskins to NFL championships in 1937 and 1942. His 335 passing yards in the 1937 title game against Chicago set an NFL rookie record that stood for 76 years until Russell Wilson topped it in 2013. In 1943 Baugh led the NFL in passing on offense, interceptions (11) on defense and punting (45.9 yards) on special teams. He was a four-time NFL punting champion.

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(Baugh photo courtesy of the Washington Redskins)

Tom Brady. A member of the NFL’s 2000s all-decade team. His 180 career victories are an NFL record and his winning percentage of (180-52) of 77.6 ranks second-best of all-time. Brady is an 11-time Pro Bowler, a four-time Super Bowl champion, a three-time Super Bowl MVP, a two-time NFL MVP and a two-time NFL passing champion. He threw personal bests of 50 touchdown passes in 2007 and 5,235 yards in 2011. Brady also quarterbacked the Patriots to the only 16-0 regular season in NFL history in 2007. He has taken the Patriots to the playoffs in 14 of his 16 seasons as a starter.

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(Brady photos courtesy of the New England Patriots)

Otto Graham. A member of the NFL’s 75th anniversary team and also the 1950s all-decade team. A three-time NFL MVP. Began his career in 1946 with the Cleveland Browns and spent four years in the All-America Football Conference before moving to the NFL for his final six seasons. Graham took the Browns to the championship game all 10 of his seasons, winning seven titles. He won a record 83.4 percent of his career starts, including 80.6 percent in his six NFL seasons. Graham also won two NFL passing titles. He’s all about winning games and championships. He also was a member of the 1946 NBA champion Rochester Royals.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Otto Graham scrambles upfield during Championship game against the Los Angeles Rams in Los Angeles, Dec. 26, 1955. Browns won, 38-14. (AP Photo/NFL Photos/Vic Stein)

(Graham photo courtesy of the Cleveland Browns)

Peyton Manning. A member of the NFL’s 2000s all-decade team. The NFL’s all-time leading passer with 71,940 yards and 539 touchdowns. Manning was a 14-time Pro Bowler, five-time NFL MVP, three-time NFL passing champion and two-time Super Bowl champion. He played 17 seasons but missed 2011 with a neck injury. The Colts released him at that point and he signed with the Denver Broncos, with whom he set NFL single-season records with 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns in 2013. He won his second Super Bowl in his final game with the Broncos in the 2015 season.

Denver Broncos-December 12, 2013

(Manning photo courtesy of the Denver Broncos)

Joe Montana. A member of the NFL’s 75th anniversary team and also the 1980s all-decade team. Montana was an eight-time Pro Bowler, a four-time Super Bowl champion, a three-time Super Bowl MVP, a two-time NFL MVP and a two-time NFL passing champion. He also won a national championship at Notre Dame in 1977 and his jersey No. 16 has been retired by the San Francisco 49ers. He finished out his career playing two seasons in Kansas City and took the Chiefs to the AFC title game in 1993. Kansas City hasn’t been back since. His career bests were 31 TD passes in 1987 and 3,944 yards in 1990.

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Dwight Clark (87) and quarterback joe Montana (16) talk during an NFL game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Sunday, Nov. 9, 1986 in San Francisco. The 49ers won the game, 43 to 17. (AP Photo/Greg Trott)

(Montana photos courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers)

Johnny Unitas. A member of the NFL’s 75th anniversary team and also 1960s all-decade team. Known for his black high-top cleats, Unitas was a 10-time Pro Bowler, a four-time NFL MVP and a three-time NFL champion. He called his own plays, invented the two-minute drill and also put the NFL on the map with his performance in the 1958 NFL title game, an overtime victory over the New York Giants, dubbed “the greatest game ever played.” He threw a career-best 32 touchdowns in a 12-game 1959 season and a career-best 3,481 yards in a 14-game 1963 season.

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(Unitas photos courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts)

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24 Comments

  1. mikea5132@gmail.com
    December 21, 2016
    Reply

    Although I’d take Bart Start # 1, Unitas is my pick in this group. ..

    He amassed modern day stats during a defensive era of football. ..

    Imagine what he’d do in today’s offensive era?

  2. James
    December 21, 2016
    Reply

    I can’t believe you did not list Elway as a Choice!! He took his Teams to 5 Superbowl’s , No other QB on that list could have traded places with him and took the Denver Broncos to the Superbowls in 87,88 or 90 – Not a One. I can’t believe you don’t rank him in the Top 6

    • Rick Gosselin
      December 21, 2016
      Reply

      Starr, Staubach, Favre…lots of HOF & deserving QBs that didn’t fit onto a list of 6.

  3. David M
    December 21, 2016
    Reply

    Montana hands down. Imagine him playing in an era where every rule benefits the QB, unless you’re named Cam Newton.

  4. Anonymous
    December 22, 2016
    Reply

    Brady, Peyton, Montana and Staubach: my Mount Rushmore of the greatest QBs of all time!

  5. December 22, 2016
    Reply

    Brady, Peyton, Montana and Staubach: my personal Mount Rushmore of the greatest QBs of all time!

  6. mikea5132@gmail.com
    December 22, 2016
    Reply

    Great choices Eugene, you can’t really go wrong with so many great QBS.

    My Mount Rushmore. …Starr, Unitas, Montana, Brady…

  7. bachslunch
    December 22, 2016
    Reply

    My Mt. Rushmore: John Unitas, Joe Montana, Otto Graham, Sammy Baugh. But it’s really tough to do badly with any of these choices for voting, as well as the QBs others have mentioned. It’s like trying to choose between brands of 20-year-old scotch.

  8. Rasputin
    December 22, 2016
    Reply

    Sammy Baugh is my pick for greatest NFL player of all time, but probably not best QB per se. Peyton and Brady are great but play in the most stat inflated, protected, medically advanced, QB friendly era yet. Staubach, Graham, and Unitas would be lighting up the stat board if they played today. So would Montana, but probably without quite as big a jump since he had the advantage of playing in an ahead of the curve, stat friendly west coast system in the 80s before many other teams were doing it. Aikman is the most accurate pure passer I’ve ever seen.

    I’ll abstain from this vote.

  9. Rasputin
    December 22, 2016
    Reply

    Should add that one thing that makes Staubach retiring with the best career passer rating in NFL history at the time more impressive is that his career coincided almost entirely with the 1970s, the only decade in NFL history that saw passing stat deflation from the previous decade rather than inflation.

    Whether that deflation resulted from the merger, the simultaneous rise of several of the greatest defenses of all time, a decline in passing game quality (possibly due to defense leaping ahead and holding a temporary schematic advantage), or a combination of factors, for Staubach to emerge from those years with the best NFL passer rating of all time arguably says more than it usually does with someone who just holds the career record because he had the best stats in the most recent era (currently Aaron Rodgers).

    • Anonymous
      December 23, 2016
      Reply

      Staubach the most underrated great QB in history. Only Graham & Brady have better winning percentages.

    • Rick Gosselin
      December 24, 2016
      Reply

      Staubach the most underappreciated quarterback of all time. Ranks third all-time in winning percentage behind only Graham & Brady.

  10. Art
    December 24, 2016
    Reply

    Brady is GOAT hands down!! 16 div titles 12 pro bowls 6 SB apperances 4 SB wins multiple MVPs & is still going strong at almost 40yrs old still breaking NFL records & all in the cap era. BRADY=GOAT

    • December 24, 2016
      Reply

      Certainly can make the case. Did more with less than virtually anyone out there.

  11. Larry
    December 24, 2016
    Reply

    I’d go with the guy who basically invented the position, Johnny U.

  12. TheJJWattExperience
    December 24, 2016
    Reply

    If we could have any quarterback in the history of the NFL to start an expansion team for the start of the 2017 NFL season, I would take John Elway. He’s the best I’ve ever seen.

    I think that’s the best indicator of who the best was, whereas Brady had the greatest coach in history to play with for his career. The Pats went 11-5 the year they lost Brady (and actually finished with a worse record when they got Brady back the following year) and were 3-1 without Brady this year, too.

    I’d say Manning was better than Brady because he went to the Super Bowl with three different coaches (playoffs with four).

    I’m judging based off of who would have the best career as a 22-year old moving forward with all factors being equal and these guys starting their careers with a new coach on an expansion team. If I’m judging a QB based on what he’s done individually in the ultimate team game – then you have to take Brady, but that seems like lazy thinking. All things equal – Brady is not even close to Elway. Only Manning is close. I never saw guys like Unitas so I am not putting them in my personal comparisons.

  13. Sam Goldenberg
    December 25, 2016
    Reply

    This is a difficult choice. All six are legends and are all beyond great. Since I am forced to make a choice, I will go with Unitas. He played a modern era game in a time when running the ball and defensive football was the norm. He basically invented the 2 minute offense. I would go with Brady as a close second. He continues to win and dominate with different players year after year. Its amazing what he is doing this year with Gronk hurt. However, kudos to all six who gave us some many highlights.

  14. bachslunch
    December 26, 2016
    Reply

    Sam, note that the invention of the 2-minute offense is credited to 1950s Lions coach Buddy Parker, with Bobby Layne being the QB who executed it on-field. But am thinking it’s fair to say Unitas helped popularize its use.

  15. bachslunch
    December 26, 2016
    Reply

    Sam, while it’s fair to say Unitas helped popularize the 2-minute drill, its invention is credited to 1950s Lions coach Buddy Parker with Bobby Layne being the QB executing it.

  16. bachslunch
    December 26, 2016
    Reply

    Sorry about the double post. My bad.

  17. Sports Fan
    December 28, 2016
    Reply

    1940s Sammy Baugh
    1950s Otto Graham
    1960s Johnny Unitas
    1980s Joe Montana
    2000s Brady / Peyton Manning

    “Talk of Fame Network hosts Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge all cast their ballots for Unitas.”

    Each of your thoughts on how each name listed would have faired in each one’s Era?

    Is this correct:
    Brady/Manning played under more advantageous, QB/Team Rules compared to the Rules the others listed here played under?

    Baugh Graham Unitas Montana stat line would even be greater if played under today’s Rules?

    Brady Manning stat line would even be less then it is presently if played under the other Era’s Rules?

    Which of these Era’s was most difficult for a QB to play under?

    each of your thoughts?
    as well as Commenters?

  18. Tom K
    January 2, 2017
    Reply

    The hardest position to rank. The game has changed so much throughout the years. In my opinion, it comes down to a few things. If I need to draft a guy to be my QB (just a QB in terms of Baugh) then 1 thing that most people overlook is the probability (completely subjective) that they were not, whether it is completely partly or just a little, the product of a system, coach, and/or players. After that, my conclusion would come down to a few guys. I agree with Sammy Baugh being an option, I would agree with Peyton Manning being an option, I could live with Johnny Unitas being an option but it’d be barley (too many variables), and I would add in Dan Marino. You could say that maybe a couple other guys have weak arguments. When it comes down to it, I would choose either Sammy Baugh or Dan Marino.

  19. Sam Goldenberg
    January 9, 2017
    Reply

    Good call bachslunch, didn’t know that

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