(Photos courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts)
By Clark Judge
Talk of Fame Network
Apparently, Charles Haley is no fan of the New England Patriots or Tom Brady. He let us know this week when — on the Talk of Fame Network’s weekly broadcast — he said that “all” of Brady’s Super Bowl wins … meaning all of New England’s … are “tainted” and that he’d take Joe Montana over Tom Terrific in a heartbeat.
Of course, Haley played with Montana, so he’s not exactly impartial. But I know three guys who should be: Rick Gosselin, Ron Borges and I — your weekly hosts on the Talk of Fame Network and three of the 46 Hall-of-Fame selectors that last weekend voted Haley into Canton. So, we compiled our own list of who’s better and why.
But the question isn’t Brady vs. Montana; it’s Top Five quarterbacks, period. OK, so maybe they should’ve been divided into Super Bowl-era quarterbacks and pre-Super Bowl-era quarterbacks … but they weren’t. This is just top five, period, and my interest is Brady.
I mean, if Haley didn’t like him, where do we stand? Keep reading:
1. John Unitas. He invented the two-minute drill, called his own plays and defined how the position should be played.
2. Joe Montana. Joe Cool was 4-0 in Super Bowls and 11-0 TD-to-interception ratio. What’s better than that?
3. Otto Graham. The greatest winner ever. Took his team to 10 straight league championship games and won six.
4. John Elway. No one ever did more with less, nor had more pure talent than Elway.
5. Sammy Baugh. He retired holding 13 NFL records, two of which still stand. He once led the NFL in passing, punting and interceptions (as a defensive back) in the same season. Let’s see Peyton Manning do that.
1. John Unitas. He called his own plays and threw TD passes in a then-unprecedented 47 consecutive games. Named to the NFL’s 75th anniversary team.
2. Joe Montana. He won four Super Bowls with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. Named to the NFL’s 75th anniversary team.
3. Otto Graham. He took Cleveland to 10 consecutive title games — four in the AAFC and six in the NFL in the 1950s. Named to the NFL’s 75th anniversary team.
4. John Elway. He went to nine Pro Bowls and took Denver to six AFC title games and five Super Bowls. He ranks third all-time in fourth-quarter comebacks (35) behind Peyton Manning and Dan Marino.
5. Roger Staubach. He took Dallas to four Super Bowls in the 1970s and won 74.5 percent of his career starts (85-29). Because of his commitment to the U.S. Navy, his career didn’t start until he was 27.
1. John Unitas. When we asked Pittsburgh’s Dan Rooney what Johnny U. would do under today’s rules, his answer was succinct: “He’d own all the records.” I never saw anyone better. He called his own plays. He won big games. And he was the absolute king of the two-minute drill.
2. Otto Graham. The record speaks for itself: Ten straight championship games, with seven titles. I don’t care that four of those seasons were in the All-America Football Conference. Graham won an NFL-record 81 percent of the games he started and was 9-3 in the playoffs and still holds the league mark for yards per completion at nine He was a member of the league’s 75th anniversary team, a seven-time All NFL/AAFC choice and a five-time NFL/AAFC MVP.
3. (tie) Tom Brady, Joe Montana. I disagree with Haley … and, apparently, Borges and Gosselin. Brady did more with less than anyone in the Super Bowl-era outside of John Elway. But Elway won two Super Bowls. Brady won four. And he went to six — in a salary-cap era. Montana went to four, too, and not only won them all … he didn’t throw an interception. Three Super Bowl MVPs for Brady. Three Super Bowl MVPs for Montana. It’s a photo finish.
5. John Elway. He went to five Super Bowls but won two — thanks to Terrell Davis. Elway seldom had much around him, but he worked miracles with what he had. When people ask me to name the most talented quarterback ever, I start here.