Tag Archives: Drew Brees

You Can Stop The Debate: Here’s the Quintessential Dubsism List of the 30 Greatest Quarterbacks

If you recall back around the Super Bowl, there was a spirited debate about quarterbacks. On one hand, if Brady had won, would he be the greatest of all time? On the other, since Eli Manning won his second Super Bowl, where does he rank amongst the all-time greats? Let’s cut through the crap here…the best way to get a bunch of football fans arguing is to start a debate over a list of all-time greats, and no position gets a bigger reaction than the quarterback.

There are three main problems inherent in creating lists like this. For openers, everybody has personal biases and/or their favorites. Trust me, as you read this list, you are likely to find a guy who you will think I rated too low. Conversely, you are likely to find a guy who I rated too high or you may find a guy you don’t like rated above your favorite.  The second issues is the subjective nature of “greatness;” this feeds into the “personal bias” issue and it isn’t easily solved by merely clinging to statistics, which leads to the third problem. The argument over “greatness” takes a major trip over the difference in eras; let’s face it, professional football is not the same game in 1940 as it is today.  This is why I developed a list of criteria designed to mitigate those problems as much as possible.

Ability as compared to others in a player’s era – 30% of grade: This is what I consider the true measure of greatness. It is safe to assume that the players in the NFL at any time were the best football players on the planet, and standing out amongst the best of the best is a pretty good definition of greatness.

Athleticism – 20% of grade: Great quarterbacks have to make great plays, and that requires athletic skill. Another factor is that one-dimensional quarterbacks tend to rate lower in this criteria; the immobile pocket passer who can’t avoid a rush suffers in this category as well as the “scrambler” who can’t throw. To be at the top of this list, a quarterback really needs a high score here.

Performance in the “Clutch”- 15% of grade: Here’s where you get the play-off performances, fourth-quarter comebacks, and all those sort of greatness-defining moments. Conversely, if we are going to value winning championships, we also have to examine big-game failures.

Skill as a Passer – 15% of grade: This would be the statistic-heavy criteria on this list.  Regardless of era, passing has been largely a sole responsibility of the quarterback.

Winning as a Team – 10% of grade: In the immortal words of Herm Edwards, “You play to win the game.” Winning is winning, and while regular-season wins are important, play-off wins and championships carry most of the weight for this criteria, but in the sense that football is a team sport, and quarterbacks are measured in this case as to how well they contributed to the performance of their team.  In other words, a quarterback who never won championships can certainly make the list, yet one who didn’t have a regular-season winning record would find it very difficult. Also, A quarterback with winning-regular season record but a bad play-off record would suffer.

Leadership – 5% of grade: I’ve always thought this criteria for quarterbacks was a bit over-rated. Teams do need leaders, but that doesn’t always have to be the quarterback.  It’s a bonus when that is the case, but it isn’t essential.

Toughness/Durability – 5% of grade: This is rather simple; you can’t be great if you can’t play, and you can’t play if you can’t stay on the field.

Really I’m trying to expand beyond the shopworn “who won more championships vs. who had better stats debate;” ESPN gives us a steady diet of that, but it also presents us the problem that really isn’t solvable. Not only is that debate an important part of the discussion, but any list of criteria is going to leave somebody out.  Thankfully, this is why blogs have comments section.  Peruse this list and share your thoughts.

First, look at the notable quarterbacks who didn’t make the cut. It’s a safe bet Eli Manning cracks the top 30 by the time he’s done, and of the current quarterbacks who aren’t included here, Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers seem to be the best bets to be in this discussion by the time their careers are done.

  • Archie Manning
  • Bob Griese
  • Bob Waterfield
  • Boomer Esaison
  • Craig Morton
  • Dave Krieg
  • Donovan McNabb
  • Drew Bledsoe
  • Eli Manning
  • Jack Kemp
  • Jim Hart
  • Jim Plunkett
  • John Hadl
  • Joe Namath
  • Joe Theismann
  • Ken Stabler
  • Kerry Collins
  • Phil Simms
  • Randall Cunningham
  • Roman Gabriel
  • Ron Jaworski
  • Vinny Testaverde

Now, for the actual Dubsism list of the 30 Greatest Quarterbacks to date:

30) Ken Anderson

Never a champion, but never a loser either. Despite the fact that Anderson played for some bad Cincinnati Bengal teams, that might be the best way to describe him. Anderson is the best quarterback who isn’t going to get into the Hall of Fame. The best thing on Anderson’s “great quarterback resume” is the fact he made the Bengals relevant for close to a decade and a half despite the fact the “Queen City Kitties” are one of the historic dysfunctional franchises in all of sport.

Even though he likely never gets into Canton, Anderson does have Hall of Fame worthy numbers as a passer; his stats are better than several guys long since immortalized in bronze. Granted his won-loss record in the regular season isn’t spectacular, but Anderson may be the best post-season quarterback who never won a championship.  Anderson’s post-season passer rating is second only to Joe Montana, and that also happens to be the guy to whom Anderson lost his only Super Bowl appearance. Not to mention, Anderson’s 1982 single-season record of a completion percentage of 70.6% stood for 27 years; since when it has been passed twice by a guy who is likely to end up in the top ten of this list: Drew Brees.

29) Steve McNair

Steve McNair is the first example on this list of a quarterback who could beat you with his arm or his feet. His career year in 2000 with the Tennessee Titans exemplifies that. McNair registered career passing highs with 3,350 passing yards, 264 completions, 21 passing touchdowns, and a 90.2 quarterback rating. On top of that, he was also one of the team’s most effective rushers, tying for the team lead in rushing scores with five. This multi-faceted attack allowed McNair to become both the Titans’ all-time leading passer and one of the great running quarterbacks in NFL history.

McNair led the Titans to the playoffs four times, as well as once with the Baltimore Ravens. He came within one infamous play –  the last-second, just-short-of-the-goal line completion to Kevin Dyson – of winning a Super Bowl.  McNair was a three-time Pro Bowler and was All-Pro and Co-NFL MVP in 2003.

28) George Blanda

Throughout 26 seasons and 340 games in professional football as a quarterback and place-kicker, George Blanda was known for his toughness, versatility and longevity.  He led the Houston Oilers to the first two AFL titles in 1960 and 1961. It took the Dallas Texans (later the Kansaa City Chiefs) double -overtime to keep Blanda and the Oilers from a “three-peat.”

Blanda’s professional career started for $600 in 1949. While the Chicago Bears primarily used Blanda as a quarterback and placekicker, he also saw time on the defensive side of the ball at linebacker. It would not be until 1953 that Blanda would emerge as the Bears’ top quarterback, but an injury the following year effectively ended his first-string status. For the next four years, he was used mostly in a kicking capacity.

Blanda retired after the 1958 NFL season because of Bears owner George Halas insistence of only using him as a kicker, but returned in 1960 upon the formation of the American Football League. He signed with the Houston Oilers again as a quarterback and kicker. He was derided by the sports media as an “NFL Reject,” but he went on to lead the Oilers to the first two championships in AFL history, and he was the All-AFL quarterback and won AFL Player of the Year honors in 1961. During that season, he led the AFL with 3,330 passing yards and a record 36 touchdown passes. That record, although tied by the Giants’ Y.A. Tittle in 1963, was not surpassed in pro football until 1984 when the Dolphins’ Dan Marino tossed 48 scores.

In 1962, Blanda had two 400-yard passing days for the Oilers; a 464-yard, 4 touchdown effort against the Buffalo Bills and a 418-yard, 7 touchdown blasting of the New York Titans. Blanda threw at least 4 touchdowns 13 times during his career and once attempted 68 passes in one game. Blanda would have easily been comfortable in today’s pass-happy game; from 1963 to 1965, Blanda led the AFL in passing attempts and completions, and ranked in the top ten for attempts, completions, yards and touchdowns during seven consecutive seasons. A four-time member of the American Football League All-Star team, Blanda’s already-long career seemed over when he was released by the Oilers in 1967. However, the Oakland Raiders signed him later that year, seeing his potential as a contributing backup passer and a dependable kicker.

During the 1967 season, Blanda’s kicking saw him lead the AFL in scoring with 116 points. The Raiders went on to compete in Super Bowl II, but the following two seasons ended in heartbreak as they lost in the AFL Championship games both times. In 1970, Blanda was released during the preseason, but bounced back to establish his 21st professional season with one of the most dramatic comebacks in sports history. Beginning with the game at Pittsburgh, Blanda put together five straight clutch performances.

Against the Steelers, Blanda threw for three touchdowns in relief of an injured Daryle Lamonica. One week later, his 48-yard field goal with three seconds remaining salvaged a 17–17 tie with the Kansas City Chiefs. Against the Browns, Blanda once again came off the bench to throw a touchdown pass to tie the game with 1:34 remaining, then kicked a 53-yard field goal with three seconds left for the 23–20 win. Immediately after the winning field goal, Raiders radio announcer Bill King excitedly declared, “George Blanda has just been elected King of the World!” In the Raiders’ next game, Blanda again replaced Lamonica in the fourth quarter and connected with Fred Biletnikoff on a touchdown pass with 2:28 remaining to defeat the Denver Broncos. The streak concluded one week later when Blanda’s 16-yard field goal in the closing seconds defeated the San Diego Chargers, 20–17.

In the AFC title game against the Baltimore Colts, Blanda again relieved an injured Lamonica and had a superb performance, completing 17 of 32 passes for 217 yards and 2 touchdowns while also kicking a 48-yard field goal and two extra points, keeping the Raiders in the game until the final quarter, when he was intercepted twice. At 43, Blanda became the oldest quarterback ever to play in a championship game, and was one of the few remaining straight-ahead kickers in the NFL.

Kansas City Chiefs’ owner Lamar Hunt said in jest, “Why, this George Blanda is as good as his father, who used to play for Houston.” Although he never again played a major role at quarterback, Blanda would serve as the Raiders’ kicker for five more seasons. Blanda played in his last game at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium on January 4, 1976, in the AFC Championship Game at age 48. Blanda went out on a 41-yard field goal and one extra point as the Raiders lost to the Steelers 16-10.

Blanda finished his 26 professional football seasons having completed 1,911 of 4,007 pass attempts for 26,920 yards and 236 touchdowns. Blanda also held the NFL record for most interceptions thrown with 277, until Brett Favre broke in 2007. He rushed for 344 yards and 9 touchdowns on the ground, kicked 335 of 641 field goals, and 943 of 959 extra points, giving him 2,002 total points. Additional stats include 1 interception, 2 kickoff returns for 19 yards, 22 punts for 809 yards, and 23 fumble recoveries.

In 1976, at the age of 48, he retired as the league’s all-time leading scorer, and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981.

27) Ben Roethlisberger

Roethlisberger became the youngest Super Bowl-winning quarterback to date when he led the Steelers to a 21–10 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in his second professional season at the age of 23.  Four years later, Roethlisberger led the Steelers to a second Super Bowl Championship. Roethlisberger never gets credit for what an efficient passer he is because of his ability to scramble and extend plays.  He currently ranks 11th all-time in NFL passer rating (92.1), 5th in yards per attempt (8.0), and 12th in completion percentage (63.1%) among quarterbacks with a minimum of 1,500 career attempts. He also has a .700 winning percentage in the regular season.  Having said all that, Roethisberger has plenty of time to move either up or down on this list.

26) Bart Starr

Starr is the quintessential model of efficiency and not beating one’s self. Starr is not the guy who will blow you away with his huge stats or game-winning plays, but he did lead the Packers dynasty that won five championships in seven years during the 1960s. His .900 winning percentage in the post-season e may be the most efficient passer ever and his 9-1 post season record is the best by a quarterback.  As I said, Starr doesn’t have the huge stat sheet, but he does have 5 championships, an NFL MVP award, and 2 Super Bowl MVP’s. Let’s be honest, the great ones win when it matters.

25) Kurt Warner

Warner might just be the ultimate NFL “rags-to-riches” story. During journey from the fields of Iowa to the NFL, Warner at times bagged groceries and starred in the  Arena Football. Nobody drafted him out of Northern Iowa and ended up having one the great careers of all time.  He was the NFL MVP twice, Super Bowl MVP once, and owns the three highest single-game passing yardage totals in Super Bowl history.

24) Bobby Layne

For a guy who was never considered an “elite” passer, when Layne retired he held the league record’s for most career pass attempts, completions, passing yards, and touchdown passes. He was also one of the best running quarterbacks on this list. He won NFL Championships in 1952, 1953, and 1957, and just missed a fourth in 1954. The Lions haven’t won a championship since the shipped Layne to the Steelers in 1958. Bobby Layne is also the only player on this list who has a Dubsy Award named for him.

23) Norm Van Brocklin

‘The Dutchman” is the only quarterback to split the signal-calling duties with two other Hall of Famers during his career; Bob Waterfield in Los Angeles and Sonny Jurgensen in Philadelphia.  Van Brocklin played in 9 Pro Bowls and was a first-team All Pro selection in 1960. He won two NFL championships and is the only quarterback to beat a Vince Lomabardi-coached Packers team in a championship game.

22) Drew Brees

This is a guy who is only going up on this list. After only 10 seasons, he already has 40,000 passing yards, 281 touchdowns, six Pro Bowl Selections, one first-team All-Pro selection and a Super Bowl MVP award. Barring injury, Brees has at least four or five high-level seasons left.  Seems to me 400 touchdowns and 60,000 passing yards is in reach. Tack another championship to those numbers and Brees looks to be a top ten quarterback waiting to happen.

21) Len Dawson

Dawson was never flashy, and he never blew your mind with eye-popping statistics, but he was great nevertheless. Efficiency was his main weapon. Dawson led the AFL in completion percentage and passer rating six times and led the Chiefs to three championships. Along the way, he was a six-time AFL All-Star and was the MVP of Super Bowl IV.

20) Y.A. Tittle

Tittle’s is like the 1960’s answer to Jim Kelly. Tittle had the pieces around him and he was good enough to get his guys to the Championship on multiple occassions, but was never able to get over the hump. He came the closest in 1963 when he set a single-season record with 36 touchdown passes; a record that stood until Dan Marino threw 48 touchdowns in 1984.

19) Jim Kelly

Kelly is another quarterback who spent time in an inferior league (the USFL wasn’t a bad league, but it was closer in terms of talent to the CFL than the NFL). Even though he lost them all, playing in four straight Super Bowls was impressive, one can make an argument the Bills were over-matched in talent in two of them. If Scott Norwood makes that field goal in 1991, so many thing change. The Bills become discussed as one of the great teams of all time, the Bills likely win at least one more Championship, and Kelly moves up this list.

18) Warren Moon

The fact that Moon had over 49,000 passing yards and 291 touchdowns in the NFL is astonishing considering he spent the first five years of his pro football career in Canada. Even if one were to consider his  CFL stats in the total (which is a bit ridiculous since one would need to assume the talent levels of the two leagues are comparable), he becomes the the only guy besides Brett Favre with 70,000 passing yards and one of only three quarterbacks as of this writing (Favre, Marino) with 400 touchdowns. Moon was never a successful play-off quarterback, but he was selected to nine Pro Bowls was named NFL MVP in 1990.

17) Dan Fouts

If Dan Fouts isn’t the best pure passer on this list, there’s no denying he is in the top three. He was a six-time Pro Bowler and was twice a first-team All-Pro. He was the first to throw for over 4,000 yards in three consecutive seasons, and his 4,802 passing yards in 1981 was a single-season record. However, his won-loss record was only 86-84-1, and he never appeared in a Super  Bowl, having gone 0-2 in conference championship games.

16) Terry Bradshaw

Bradshaw started out as a bumpkin in cleats, and ended up winning four Super Bowls. However, in between, Bradshaw was a model of inconsistency. He would rapidly alternate between greatness and gruesome. He put together seasons which made him a 3-time Pro Bowler and once was named first-team All-Pro; he also had seasons in which he threw 25 interceptions, or only completed 45% of his passes, or got benched for some other reason. Inconsistency is a brutal enough factor to keep a league MVP and two-time Super Bowl MVP in the bottom half of this list.

15) Fran Tarkenton

Tarkenton greatness as a passer gets overlooked largely because he was such great runner (3,674 yards) and he was the first quarterback to lose three Super Bowls.  His 47,000 career passing yards was #1 all-time when he retired.  He completed 60 percent of his passe sin five of his final six seasons, which is incredible given that he played for 18 seasons, and at the time a completion rate that high was not common.

14)  Brett Favre

Brett Favre was the ultimate riverboat gambler. He played at a high level into his 40’s. Of all the records he set, the one that nobody who is alive today will live long enough to see broken is 285 consecutive starts. He’s got 70,000+ passing yards,  500+ touchdowns, and he was an 11-time Pro Bowler, 3-time first team All-Pro, and a 3-time league MVP. That seems like a guy who should be in the top five.  So, why isn’t he?

For starters, the fact that he threw 336 career interceptions, which is almost 60 more than the 2nd-place guy.  More importantly, he threw way too many of those picks in crunch time, which helps to explain how a quarterback with a 186-112 regular season win-loss record was only a 13-11 performer in the play-offs, and only 3-6 in conference champiosnhip games and Super Bowls.

13) Troy Aikman

The New York Mets offered Aikman a contract when he came out of high school, but instead he chose to pursue football. 94 career wins, three Super Bowl championships and six Pro Bowls later, Aikman landed in the Hall of Fame as the quarterback with the most wins in any decade until he was surpassed by Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Aikman retired as the Cowboys passer despite the fact his career was cut short by injury issues.

12) Roger Staubach

The only reason Roger Staubach isn’t higher on this list is his career simply wasn’t long enough to rack up big numbers. He was a 27-year-old rookie in 1969 because he had a four-year service commitment after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy. His career gets even shorter when you consider that head coach Tom Landry didn’t name him as the full-time starter until 1971.  But when he was on the field, there was none better. Between 1971 and 1979,  Staubach won two Super Bowls and was a six-time Pro Bowler.  The fact that he put up over 22,000 passing yards and 2,2200 rushing yards in what really amounted to only 9 full seasons, it isn’t hard to see that if Staubach had a more traditional-length career, he would easily be a top ten guy.

11) Tom Brady

Here’s where this is going to get ugly. I’m positive I’m going to get a lot of comments about how Brady should rate much higher than #11.  No offense, but anybody who thinks that right now Tom Brady is a top ten quarterback now is blind to some crucial facts. But first, let’s look at the things that got Brady on to the list in the first place.

Brady’s NFL record of 358 consecutive passing attempts without an interception would be astounding in any era.  So would the fact that he has three NFL Championships and two Super Bowl MVP awards. So would his .700+ winning percentage as a starting quarterback. Oddly enough, Brady’s accomplishments are somewhat over-valued by the era he played in.

First of all, he shares a major problem with Peyton Manning. Their lack of mobility coupled with rule changes made in the last twenty years mean neither would have been able to play before the 1970’s when quarterbacks really were “fair game.”

Second of all, Brady is great, but he simply isn’t that much better than many of his current colleagues…his 50 touchdowns or 5,000 passing yards aren’t such shocking numbers as they were in 1984 when Dan Marino was the first to approach them. The league values the forward pass, and has made rule changes to facilitate the passing game.

Lastly, I understand that Brady’s 5 Super Bowl appearances and 3 Super Bowl wins is a major accomplishment, but it’s also fair to look at Brady’s playoff performances in the years since the last of the those Super Bowl wins at the end of the 2004 season.  In 12 play-off games since the last Super Bowl win, Tom Brady and the Patriots are only 7-5. More astounding are the stats for  an average Tom Brady performance in those games: 23/36, 64% completion percentage, 256 yards, 2.17 touchdowns, and 1.42 interceptions.

Most of those numbers are acceptable, the touchdown to interception ration is the killer. For a guy who is supposed to be a great pure passer, and for a guy who holds that record of 358 consecutive passing attempts without an interception, having more three INT games than 0 INT games in your last 12 playoff performances kills ratings in categories like “Skill as a Passer” and “Performance in the Clutch”

10) Peyton Manning

Obviously, as of this writing, we have no idea if Manning’s career is over or not. As it stands right now, I believe Manning has earned the accolades which make him top ten all-time quarterback. Given the criteria we’ve established for making this list, the only way he moves up is to win another Super Bowl or league MVP award, neither of which seem very likely. Conversely, the only way he moves down is if another quarterback passes him.

Having said that, let’s look at what has made Peyton Manning a top ten quarterback. Nobody as of this date has won four NFL MVP awards. Peyton is the fastest quarterback in history to reach 4,000 completions and 50,000 passing yards. He is also an 11-time Pro Bowler and has been selected All-Pro eight times. Given all that, why is he only at #10 on this list?

For starters, Manning suffers greatly in two categories, Performance in the “clutch” and athleticism. Manning’s play-off record is dismal and Manning, like Brady, is an immobile pocket passer who would have only flourished in this league in the last twenty years.  Put him and Brady in the 1960’s when defenders were allowed to literally beat the stuffing out of quarterbacks and neither of them would have survived.

9) Sid Luckman

To understand why Sid Luckman is in the top ten, you really have to consider the power of the difference in eras, and the length of season and individual careers.  Considering Luckman played in an era when the forward pass was treated as a “trick” play, it’s difficult to look at sheer numbers and appreciate his greatness without considering the difference in eras. While Sammy Baugh (see #6) was inventing the modern passing game in the 1930’s and 1940’s, Luckman’s 2,194 passing yards and 28 touchdowns in 1943 seemed like an impossiblilty in those days; it would be roughly equal to a quarterback tossing for more than 6,800 yards and 57 touchdowns today. Luckman won four Championships and still holds the NFL record for touchdown pass percentage (7.9), and his 8.4 yards per pass attempt is second only to Otto Graham.

8 ) Sonny Jurgensen

Jurgensen is perhaps the #2 or #3 pure passer of all-time. Vince Lombardi once said that Jurgensen was the best he’d ever seen. Jurgensen was the dominant quarterback of the 1960’s. He led the NFL in passing yards five times (good for second-place all-time which he shares with Dan Marino) and led the league in passing touchdowns twice. Even though he spent time as a back-up early in his career, if he played today, an average Jurgensen season would be ~ 4,800 passing yards,  yards and 37 touchdowns against 11 interceptions per season.

7) Steve Young

In terms of athleticism, Young ranked second behind John Elway. Young had a run of dominance emjoyed by only a select few in league history, but it was only long enough to rate him at #7 on this list. Young easily could have rated as high as Elway in the overall rankings had he not wasted two seasons in the USFL, two seasons in Tampa Bay, and played back-up to Joe Montana for four more. By the time he became the starter in San Francisco, half his career was over, but in the seasons he started, Young was a seven-time Pro Bowler, first team All-Pro three times, two-time NFL MVP and won a Super Bowl in which he was also the MVP. By the way, in that Super Bowl, he threw a record six touchdown passes. That’s just for openers on Young’s impressive stats. He retired with the highest career passer rating (98.6), he had a passer rating of 100 or greater in seven seasons, while racking up 4,239 career rushing yards and 43 rushing touchdowns.

6) Sammy Baugh

Without a doubt, Sammy Baugh is the greatest all-around football player on this list. At one time, Baugh held 13 NFL records at three different positions (quarterback, punter, and defensive back). As a quarterback, spot number six may be too low.  Even though he retired 60 years ago, Baugh is still the record-holder for most years leading the league in passing yards.  Baugh is still the record-holder for most years with the lowest interception percentage. Baugh was  a 6-time Pro Bowler, a 4-time first team All-Pro, and he won two NFL Championships. The most amazing performance was Baugh’s 335 passing yards when he led the Washington Redskins over the Chicago Bears in the 1937 NFL Championship game. Remember,  the league average for passing yards that season was 102.2 yards per game, so Baugh’s performance would be like somebody throwing for about 750 yards today. Oh, and he was a rookie when he did it. It’s still the best performance for a rookie quarterback in a playoff game.

5) Dan Marino

Marino is the highest ranked guy on this list that never won a Championship, and it really doesn’t matter. No matter what your criteria, if Marino doesn’t grade out as a top five quarterback, your list is wrong. His 48 touchdown, 5,000-yard campaign in 1984 is one of the great single-season performances in all of sport, not just football.  Marino retired holding many NFL passing records, including total yards, touchdowns, and career completions.

4) John Elway

Not only is Elway perhaps the best pure athlete on this list, he also made so many mediocre players around him better. Tremendous athleticism. He was Vince Young, except he could throw it accurately to any place on the field.  Elway made legitimate receiving threats out of no-names like Ricky Nattiel, Mark Jackson, and Vance Johnson, and the threat of Elway’s passing game meant defenders played back in coverage, which allowed bench-jockeys like Gaston Green, Bobby Humphrey, and Sammy Winder to become Pro Bowlers at running back. all earned Pro Bowl berths taking handoffs from Elway.

Elway’s five 5 Super Bowl appearances ties him (as of this writing) with Tom Brady, and while he lost three of them, Elway’s dominating performances were the sole reason the Broncos mattered for a decade and a half.  Along the way, Elway won two championships, was selected to nine Pro Bowls, was a  Super Bowl MVP, and 1987 NFL MVP. Not to mention, he was nicknamed “Captain Comeback” because pulling a fourth-quarter comeback might as well be called an “Elway.”

3) Joe Montana

Montana wasn’t big and athletic. Montana wasn’t lightning quick. Montana didn’t have the quickest release. But he was the definition of “cool under pressure;” the ice water which flowed through his veins allowed him to dissect defenses with surgical precision. This is why in a 10-year span in San Francisco, Montana won four Super Bowls, was named Super Bowl MVP three times, and was NFL MVP twice.

2) Johnny Unitas

Unitas was a three-time NFL MVP and was first-team All-Pro five times.  Unitas has 3 championships, 10 Pro Bowls, was voted All-Pro 6 times., and still holds the record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass (47) ; a record which has been on the books for 52 years.

More importantly, he was the inventor of the modern passing game. Unitas revolutionized the game, without him there would be none of the guys the under-40 crowd will try to claim are greater than he was.

1) Otto Graham

Anything you say about Otto Graham starts with this sentence: Graham was the greatest winner in the history to date of pro football.  Given the listed criteria this list with which this list was built, “Automatic Otto” was a lead-pipe cinch for the top spot.  Graham was the living, breathing definition of what being a pro quarterback is.  Stack him up against the criteria:

Toughness/Durability:  Graham played in an era when there were few rules to prevent defenders from turning quarterback into potted plants. Graham never missed a game, even after having his face split open in a game in 1953.  Graham returned to that game with 15 stitches in his mouth  to lead his team to a comeback win.

Leadership: Before his career in football, Graham served in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II. After his pro football days, he served as the head football coach and athletic director at the U.S. Coast guard Academy

Winning as a Team: In his entire 10-year professional football career, Graham never finished a season without playing in a championship game. That means in 10 years, he played in 10 championship games and won 7 of them. That’s more than twice as many championship appearances as Joe Montana or Terry Bradshaw, with nearly twice as many victories.  Not to mention, his regular season winning percentage of 80% is still the  all-time record as well.

Athleticism:  With 44 career rushing touchdowns, there’ really no question that Graham was top-flight athlete. Not to mention, he spent a year playing professional basketball with the Rochester Royals (now the Sacramento Kings).

Skill as a Passer:  Just look at the numbers. 9.0 yards per pass attempt still ranks #1 on the all-time list, his career passer rating is the highest on this list and his interception percentage is the lowest.

Performance in the “clutch:”  .700 winning percentage in championship games, and an .800 winning percentage overall. That ought to cover it.

Ability as Compared to Others in his Era:  Because Graham spent the first four years of his career with the Cleveland Browns while they were still part of the All-American Football Conference (AAFC), and because the NFL doesn’t recognize AAFC championships or statistics, Graham rarely gets a high ranking in most discussions. That’s just ridiculous for a host of reasons, not the least of which was the fact Graham and the Browns dominated the NFL after the leagues merged in 1950. In many respects, the AAFC was a better league than the NFL, and the NFL recognizes AFL records.

Administrative decisions aside, there’s really no debating Otto Graham is the greatest quarterback of all-time.

Now for the fun part: I’m hoping you will comment on this list, but before you do, consider the following.  When you are going to tell me about how wrong I am, be sure to include what you would have done differently. Otherwise, go make your own list

-Dubsism is a proud member of the Sports Blog Movement

The Dubsism Quarterback Douchebag Scale

Throughout life, we deal with units of measure.  To me, the most interesting are scales; where a level of intensity is assigned to an event or quality based on a quantifiable measure. The world of weather brings us the Saffir-Simpson scalefor hurricane intensity or the Fujita scale for tornadoes. Seismologists categorizes earthquakes according to the Richter scale.

However, as a sports fan I’ve noticed there is a discernable level of jerk-like behavior present in NFL quarterbacks. Moreover, once I noticed the stratification of this behavior, I discovered that it too needed a rating scale so we may better understand the levels of douchebag present in any quarterback.  It is crucial to note this rating scale is completely independent of on-the-field performance.

Click here to see the full list.

- Dubsism is a proud member of the Sports Blog Movement

Teams That Grind My Gears: The Minnesota Vikings

Seriously, I have no idea where to start with this rant. Viking fans have always been a bit delusional; they have to be to be fans of a team that has given them the “Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown treatment” more often than Lucy herself gave it to Charlie Brown.

But that delusion got turbo-charged once the sold they souls on that whole Brett Favre affair. Make no mistake, it is the Favre thing that took the Vi-queens from “Ehhh, Whatever” to “I hope every Viking fan gets sodomized by a syphilitic, eight-penised, laser-breathing space demon.”

Face it, you Purple Failure Eaters, The Brett Favre episode turned you into the whiniest fans ever. If you doubt that, all you have to do is refer back to the precious few days after the NFC Championship loss to the New Orleans Saints. You chose to ignore the fact your team committed five turnovers, you chose to ignore the fact that had it not been for  those five turnovers you would have won by at least two touchdowns, and you chose to ignore that your offensive line sucked so bad that your quarterback, the sainted King Brett I, got his ass handed to him so badly that he panicked his way into that final deal-killing interception.

Instead of accepting the reality that you clearly didn’t deserve to win, instead you claimed the Saints “played dirty” and refused to accept the legitimacy of the Saints’ victory.

This exemplifies the fundamental lesson to which Viking fans have been oblivious for a half-century: Whining stands in the way of winning.  Quit bitching about how the referees screwed you, quit bitching about how the other team cheated, and quit bitching about all the other small-change bullshit you point out rather than accept that your football team has never made the jump from good to great.  In fact, the Vikings don’t even know the difference, let alone being able to make that last step.

The Favre episode was just the purest distillation of the Minnesota Viking credo: don’t bother to improve your team, rather just make a bunch of excuses.  Face another thing, there a reason why the following list exists:

  • 0-4 Super Bowl record
  • No Super Bowl Appearance since 1977
  • 4 NFC Championship Game losses since the last Super Bowl appearance
  • The “Whizzinator”
  • The Love Boat on Lake Minnetonka

While those things are in the past, they are just the mile markers on the road the Vikings are still on. Sunday night’s drubbing at the hands of the exceptionally tepid Chicago Bears proves that. By benching a quarterback they never should have signed in the first place, the Vikings are admitting they’ve made yet another mistake.

There’s an old cliche from the world of literature that those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it. That should be the mantra of the Minnesota Vikings. With what has happened since the last Super bowl appearance in 1977, it is clear the Vikings do not understand the importance of the quarterback position. And now it continues with Christian Ponder.

Look at this list of the guys who have gotten under center for the Vikings since then (number of games started in parentheses).

  • 1977 Fran Tarkenton (9) / Bob Lee (4) / Tommy Kramer (1)
  • 1978 Fran Tarkenton (16)
  • 1979 Tommy Kramer (16)
  • 1980 Tommy Kramer (15) / Steve Dils (1)
  • 1981 Tommy Kramer (14) / Steve Dils (2)
  • 1982 Tommy Kramer (9) (Season shortened by strike)
  • 1983 Steve Dils (12) / Tommy Kramer (3) / Wade Wilson (1)
  • 1984 Tommy Kramer (9) / Wade Wilson (5) / Archie Manning (2)
  • 1985 Tommy Kramer (15) / Wade Wilson (1)
  • 1986 Tommy Kramer (13) / Wade Wilson (3)
  • 1987 Wade Wilson (7) / Tommy Kramer (5) / Tony Adams (3) (Season shortened by strike)
  • 1988 Wade Wilson (10) / Tommy Kramer (6)
  • 1989 Wade Wilson (12) / Tommy Kramer (4)
  • 1990 Rich Gannon (12) / Wade Wilson (4)
  • 1991 Rich Gannon (11) / Wade Wilson (5)
  • 1992 Rich Gannon (12) / Sean Salisbury (4)
  • 1993 Jim McMahon (12) / Sean Salisbury (4)
  • 1994 Warren Moon (15) / Sean Salisbury (1)
  • 1995 Warren Moon (16)
  • 1996 Warren Moon (8) / Brad Johnson (8)
  • 1997 Brad Johnson (13) / Randall Cunningham (3)
  • 1998 Randall Cunningham (14) / Brad Johnson (2)
  • 1999 Jeff George (10) / Randall Cunningham (6)
  • 2000 Daunte Culpepper (16)
  • 2001 Daunte Culpepper (11) / Todd Bouman (3) / Spergon Wynn (2)
  • 2002 Daunte Culpepper (16)
  • 2003 Daunte Culpepper (14) / Gus Frerotte (2)
  • 2004 Daunte Culpepper (16)
  • 2005 Daunte Culpepper (7) / Brad Johnson (9)
  • 2006 Brad Johnson (14) / Tarvaris Jackson (2)
  • 2007 Tarvaris Jackson (12) / Kelly Holcomb (3) / Brooks Bollinger (1)
  • 2008 Gus Frerotte (11) / Tarvaris Jackson (5)
  • 2009 Brett Favre (16)
  • 2010 Brett Favre (13) / Tarvaris Jackson (1) / Joe Webb (2)
  • 2011 Donovam McNabb (6) / Christian Ponder (?)

That’s quite a list of shame, but it’s nothing compared to the list of horrible player personnel decisions the Vikings have made. It certainly helps to explain why a team with talent never seems to win anything.

Let’s take a look.

1963 – Ron Vanderkelen

Vanderkelen foreshadows the Vikings’ inability to scout quarterbacks, but it’s hard to blame them for this one.  But in retrospect, it fits the pattern.  The Vikes drafted Vanderkelen based largely on his insane record-breaking performance in the 1963 Rose Bowl.

Then, he backed that up with a huge performance in the 1963 Chicago College All-Star Game, which featured a college all-star team against the defending NFL champion Green Bay Packers.  Vanderkelen’s 74-yard touchdown strike leads the college kids to a 20-17 over the Pack, and Vanderkelen was named the MVP.

The trouble was all this hype hid the fact that Vanderkelen wasn’t ever going to be an NFL quarterback, a fact he proved after the Vikings traded Fran Tarkenton in 1967, despite the fact he was the back-up for four years.

1969 – Gary Cuozzo

This is likely the beginning of the long Viking tradition of not understanding the quarterback position, and making bad moves in support of that.  Minnesota coveted Cuozzo, who was the backup to Johnny Unitas and the first starting quarterback for the then expansion New Orleans Saints. The Vikings gave up a first-round draft pick  to New Orleans for a guy who threw more interceptions than touchdowns (43 TD, 55 INT).

1971 – Leo Hayden

The Vikings were in need of a running back, and the best available guy, John Riggins, was already off the board.  Hayden racked up 1,395 rushing yards with seven rushing TDs in three years at Ohio State. This is why the Vikings made Hayden their first-round pick in the 1971 Draft. The problem was Hayden never gained a single yard for the Minnesota Vikings, and they passed over two future Hall-of-Famers (LB Jack Ham, T Dan Dierdorf) to pick Hayden.

1972 – Jeff Siemon

When the Vikings traded QB Joe Kapp to the Patriots, they got the 10th overall pick in the 1972 draft, which they used to select Siemon, a linebacker from Stanford. Two picks later the Steelers selected future Hall-of-Famer RB Franco Harris

1982 – Darrin Nelson

This may be the worst. The Vikings take Nelson, an undersized running back out of  Stanford, with the 7th overall pick; two of the next three picks are Hall-of-Famers G Mike Munchak and RB Marcus Allen.

1983 – Joey Browner

While Browner was a pretty solid safety, a team that needed a quarterback passed on Ken O’Brien and Dan Marino.

1989 and 1990 – Herschel Walker

In what may be the worst trade in sports history… the Vikings wound up with the most overrated running back in the NFL; in return they basically gave the Cowboys two Super Bowl championships.

In this deal, the Minnesota Vikings received:

  • RB Herschel Walker
  • Dallas’s 3rd round pick – 1990 (54th) (Mike Jones)
  • San Diego’s 5th round pick – 1990 (116th) (Reggie Thornton)
  • Dallas’s 10th round pick – 1990 (249th) (Pat Newman)
  • Dallas’s 3rd round pick – 1991 (68th) (Jake Reed)

In return, the Dallas Cowboys received:

  • LB Jesse Solomon
  • LB David Howard
  • CB Issiac Holt
  • RB Darrin Nelson (traded to San Diego after he refused to report to Dallas)
  • DE Alex Stewart
  • Minnesota’s 1st round pick in 1990 (21st – traded this pick along with the 81st pick for the 17th pick from Pittsburgh to draft Hall-of-Famer Emmitt Smith)
  • Minnesota’s 2nd round pick in 1990 (47th) (Alexander Wright)
  • Minnesota’s 6th round pick in 1990 (158th – traded this pick to New Orleans, who drafted James Williams)
  • Minnesota’s 1st round pick in 1991 (conditional) – (12) (Alvin Harper)
  • Minnesota’s 2nd round pick in 1991 (conditional) – (38) (Dixon Edwards)
  • Minnesota’s 2nd round pick in 1992 (conditional) – (37) (Darren Woodson)
  • Minnesota’s 3rd round pick in 1992 (conditional) – (71) (traded to New England, who drafted Kevin Turner)
  • Minnesota’s 1st round pick in 1993 (conditional) – (13th – traded this pick to the  Philadelphia Eagles, who then to the Houston Oilers, who drafted Brad Hopkins)

If it weren’t enough that the Vikings gave up five established players, the Cowboys ended up with a total of six of Minnesota’s picks over the succeeding years. Just look at the names of the solid up to Hall-of-Fame players the Cowboys got as a result of this deal.

There’s more that aren’t even listed here. As a result stock-piling the draft picks, the Cowboys used them to make subsequent trades, one of which landed the first overall draft pick in 1991, which was used to draft Russell Maryland.

1993 – Robert Smith

Having Herschel Walker obviously whetted the Viking appetite for over-rated running backs. the Vikings used the 21st pick to take Smith out of Ohio State, who really never lives up to expectations. Smith’s eight-year career only ever sees him play a full season once, and while in that one season he actually looks like a first-round pick, meanwhile one can argue the Vikings get a much better bang for their buck by taking three-time Pro Bowl DT Dana Stubblefield with this pick.

1995 – Derrick Alexander

This one is easy to see as a huge mistake. The Vikings are in need of a big-time pass-rusher, which prompts them to take Alexander from Florida State with the 11th pick. With the very next pick, the Buccaneers select future Hall-of-Famer Warren Sapp.

1996 – Duane Clemens and Moe Williams

This is the same mistakes as the Vikes made in the previous season, yet it is compounded by who the Vi-queens passed on to take a player who garnered just 18.5 sacks in his entire career: WR Marvin Harrison, G Pete Kendall, and LB Ray Lewis.

A 3rd round pick from the University of Kentucky, Moe Williams only ever had one decent year in his career, 2003: when he posted 745 rushing yards and 644 receiving yards.  But he never amounted to much more than a quasi-useful 3rd-down back, not something for which the Vikings should have passed over LB Tedy Bruschi or WR Terrell Owens.

1998 – Randy Moss

Sharpen you crayons, Viking Fans, because this is Part I of “Stuff you are going to write me hate mail about.”

Granted, Randy Moss was one of the most exciting players in NFL history, and he was for a time the best receiver in the business. Seriously, the guy had amazing hands and had some physical tools that defied belief…

BUT…

There are a few facts which almost completely obviate his talents during his tenure in Minnesota. When you are assessing whether a player is correctly valued, EVERYTHING has to be taken into account, not just the “sexy” or the “feel-good” stuff.

FACT: Moss disappeared in the play-offs.

FACT: Moss only played half of his career in Minnesota; being traded away largely because he was such a douchebag.

FACT: Moss’ tendency to play “when he wanted to” completely eroded his over-all value.  Not being a complete player when you have superior talent makes you inferior.

This is why the Vikings would have been better served taking 6-time All-Pro G Alan Faneca with this pick. Faneca was a 9-time Pro Bowler, one of the best at his position throughout his career, and not a total dick.

1999 – Daunte Culpepper and Dimitrius Underwood

Here’s Part II of  “Stuff Viking Fans  are going to write me hate mail about.” Face it, 1999 is the year of the over-rated quarterback, and the Vikes fell for it. In the first round of that year, five QBs were selected: Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, Akili Smith, Culpepper, and Cade McNown.

The Vikes blew a 12th round pick on Culpepper, a lunch-wagon sized deep-ball artist from Central Florida. The trouble was that was all he could do; Culpepper never had a season worth mentioning without Randy Moss. The Vikings could have eliminated a lot of the offensive line problems they would have in the following decade as T John Tait, C/G Damien Woody, T Matt Stinchcomb, G Luke Petitgout, and T L. J. Shelton were all available.

But 1999 is a double feature; later in the first-round the Vikings inexplicably blow the 29th pick on Dimitrius Underwood, defensive lineman from Michigan State who was both highly regarded as being an above average player, but also came with a warning label that he had some serious psychological issues which were clearly going to be an impediment to his moving to the next level as a player. Underwood didn’t even make it through a week of training camp before the personal issues which would be his downfall became apparent.

2001 – Michael Bennett

If Wal-Mart sold a Guatemalan-made, low-quality knock-off of Robert Smith, it would be Michael Bennett. Bennett only lasts five seasons in Minnesota, during which time he only tops 500 rushing yards in a season once. The Vikes pass on WR Reggie Wayne, TE Todd Heap, and if they hadn’t made the Culpepper mistake two years prior, this is where they could have ended their quarterback problems by taking Drew Brees.

2002 – Bryant McKinnie

Where do we start here: Is it his nearly complete failure to live up to the hype which surrounded him? Or was it his complete failure to be more than overpaid, overweight bag of cold cuts? Or is it the staggering number of top-flight NFL players that were selected after him ( S Roy Williams, DE Dwight Freeney, WR Donte Stallworth, TE Jeremy Shockey, DT Albert Haynesworth, CB Philip Buchanon, S Ed Reed, and CB Lito Sheppard)?

2005 – Troy Williamson and Erasmus James

Taken with the 7th pick overall, Williamson was supposed to be a replacement for Randy Moss as he was a “vertical threat” blessed with monstrous natural speed. Too bad he couldn’t catch the damn ball.

Meanwhile, James was selected as a defensive end with the 18th overall pick from Wisconsin. In college, he was a one-man wrecking crew on the D-line, racking up 124 tackles (25.5 for losses), 18 sacks, 28 quarterback hurries, seven forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries,  and six pass deflections. In the NFL, was just a wreck; he only notched five sacks in four years.

Worse yet, here is another example of the Culpepper effect. Because the Vikings were in love with this lard-ass, they passed TWICE on Aaron Rodgers.

2006 – Chad Greenway

A “role player at best” linebacker drafted in front of a “shutdown corner” (Antonio Cromartie), a legit “big-play” receiver (Santonio Holmes), and the best center in the game (Nick Mangold).

2008 – Tyrell Johnson and Jared Allen

There’s a reason why you never heard of Tyrell Johnson. The Vikings didn’t have a first-round pick in 2008 thanks in part to the exceptionally-stupid Jared Allen trade, but there was really no excuse for taking a safety from Arkansas State who would never be more than a role-player when play-makers like RB Matt Forte, WR DeSean Jackson, and RB Ray Rice were still on the board.

Let’s go back to that Jared Allen trade for a minute. This completes the “Stuff Viking fans will write me hate mail about” trilogy.

Kansas City sent Allen and a sixth-round draft pick in 2008 for the No. 17 overall pick, two third-round picks and a sixth-round pick. Kansas City turned the picks into T Branden Albert, RB Jamaal Charles, S DaJuan Morgan, and WR Kevin Robinson. The Vikings turned the Chiefs’ sixth-round pick into C John Sullivan.

In other words, the Vikings provided the Chiefs with a feature running back, a better-than-average offensive tackle, and two non-factors for a barely-mediocre center and a bloated contract for a one-dimensional pass-rusher who gets fat on C-list offensive line talent.  More importantly, it’s time for a dirty little football secret: Sacks are the most over-rated stat in football.

Don’t believe that? Consider the following: Out of the top ten individual sack leaders going into this weekend’s schedule, only  two play on play on a defense in the top ten in passing yards allowed;  Cullen Jenkins (5 sacks) and Jason Babin (7 sacks).  They both play for the Eagles, who are ranked 10th. Jared Allen leads the league with 8.5 sacks, and the Vikings rank 24th in passing yards allowed. Obviously, having a guy that piles up sacks doesn’t help your overall pass defense.

Now, for the final nail in the Jared Allen coffin – he gets paid a shockingly high amount of money for fractionally more than one sack per game. Jared Allen’s salary counts for  $11.6 million against salary cap, or roughly $1.36 million per sack. That’s the bottom line, and that’s for a guy who only offers a pass-rush; Allen has proven he is worthless against the running game. There’s literally tons of quality defensive ends out there for far less money and who can actually play against the run.

2009 – Percy Harvin

I will admit, it may be early to say this, but this guy can’t get on the field with regularity and he underperforms when he does (but in his defense it’s not like the Vikings have had a quarterback to get him the ball). More worrisome is the guys developing a s real playmakers who the Vikings passed up, such as LB Clay Matthews, and WRs Hakeem Nicks and Kenny Britt.

2010 – Randy Moss (again)

You ran this guy out of town once, then literally gave away a 3rd round draft pick for 13 receptions. The worst part is with that pick, The Patriots may have taken the quarterback you should have.

The Christian Ponder era starts on Sunday, and while nobody knows what the future will bring, the Vikings past history makes me nervous.  The problem is the Vikings emulate their fans; at the end of the day they are both decidedly Minnesotan.

Trust me, I lived there for 15 years.  Those phlegmatic descendants of Northern Europeans who wore real horns on their helmets never, ever change their ways no matter how obviously wrong they are. They don’t trust anybody who doesn’t live within 150 miles of the town they were born in, they bitch endlessly about things they can easily be changed rather than changing them, and they ostracize anybody who dare challenge this Minnesota mantra. Naturally, their football team which wears painted-on horns emulates those characteristics.

Maybe I’m to blame. After all, I’m the one who is continuing to watch the re-runs of “Golden Girls” and expecting Rose to get smarter. Whether you are an individual or a team, if you’re going to make the jump from “good” to “great,” you have to address the key issues.   You have to want to improve and you have to address the proper things.

If you are the Vikings or their fans, this mean confronting your own ineptitude and your own choke artist tendencies. If you do that, you’ll stop wasting your time calling your opponents bad people, blaming the referees, and generally brooding over yet another loss.

Who am I kidding? It’s not like it is ever going to change. For some people, the escalator of evolution quit running a while ago.  Most Minnesotans are goofy as hell, so is their team, and I just have to live with it.

Dan Pastorini: “F–k Drew Brees”

Remember when you were a kid and there was that one old guy in the neighborhood who was bitter toward the whole world? The guy who cut up any Nerf footballs that landed in his yard, and consequently got a lot of flaming bags of dog crap left on his doorstep?

Well, it isn’t hard to picture former NFL quarterback Dan Pastorini as that guy. According to an article published by CBS News, Pastorini is upset with the NFL owners, the NFL Player’s Association, and specifically Drew Brees.

Dan Pastorini is mad. He’s mad at the NFL owners. He’s mad at the NFL Players Association. And he’s mad at Drew Brees.

“F–k Drew Brees,” Pastorini said.

Until this point, I had never heard anybody say a disparaging word about Drew Brees, but it seems Pastorini is pissed off because he feels he and his former NFL colleague who retired before 1993 somehow have been left behind by the new collective bargaining agreement in the NFL.

Why is Drew Brees a target of Pastorini’ s ire? The two main reasons are that he believes the new CBA short-changes the retired players and that Drew Brees embodies that because of some thing he said a few years ago.

Pastorini looks at the new CBA deal and figures out how much more money he’ll receive as a player who retired before 1993. He remembers how much he made when he was playing quarterback for the Oilers, Rams, Raiders and Eagles from 1971-82. Then, he thinks about the NFL Players Association and the NFL owners — and the labor fight for which he couldn’t participate — and his blood boils.

He gets mad, really mad, and he lets loose on a rant in which he places blame on both sides who he believes simply doesn’t care about the men who helped build the NFL into what it is today.

In short, he thinks he deserves more of the money made by other people. To understand that, let’s look at the money Pastorini made. Granted, the salaries of NFL Players have risen dramatically in the last few decades, but athletes have made disproportionately higher wages than the average worker for quite some time. By his own account, Pastorini made $25,000 in his rookie year of 1971; that year the average American worker made $6,497.08. By his third season, his salary had risen to $35,000, while the average American was bringing in $7,580.16.

So, while Pastorini never made star money, he never deserved star money. Frankly, with the exception of about three seasons, he was mediocre-to-lousy. Career-wise, he has 62 more interceptions than touchdown passes.  Regardless, he made enough money in his playing career that he shouldn’t have had money problems later in life. To top it off, he was awarded a $450,000 contract settlement from the Raiders in 1986. In other words, Pastorini made pretty good money for the day, and he clearly made enough to set himself up for the rest of his life.  That’s why Brees’ comments hacked him off.

“There’s some guys out there that have made bad business decisions,” Brees said then. “They took their pensions early because they never went out and got a job. They’ve had a couple divorces and they’re making payments to this place and that place. And that’s why they don’t have money. And they’re coming to us to basically say, ‘Please make up for my bad judgment.’ In that case, that’s not our fault as players.”

There couldn’t be a better personification of Brees’ comments than Pastorini.   Break it down line-by line, and it’s clear Pastorini fits this mold:

“…Guys out there that have made bad business decisions…” Pastorini has filed for bankruptcy twice.

“…They’ve had a couple divorces and they’re making payments to this place and that place…” Not only is Pastorini divorced, but he also got clipped for $1.5 million dollars in a personal injury settlement for his involvement in a boat-racing accident that killed two people.

I can see where Pastorini would take those comments personally, but Brees’ isn’t the one who was driving the boat, so to speak. What this really is all about is Pastorini is just another one of those people who thinks it is somebody else’s responsibility to pay for his decisions.

“I’m going to get an extra $1,000 a month. Big f—–g deal,” the 62-year-old Pastorini told CBSSports.com recently. “I think it’s a travesty the way they treat the older players. I’m part of that group. They’re throwing us a bone with the $620 million. By the time they get to a new CBA after 10 years, they won’t have to worry about us pre-93er’s. It’s sad, but it’s their M.O. They want to wait for us to die…They’ve been screwing us from day one. My pension was $1,100 a month, then $1,200, then $1,400, and now it’ll be $1,750. No medical, no disability — $1,700 doesn’t even pay for my rent.”

First of all, your rent is your problem, Dan. If you can’t swing $1,700 in rent, don’t live in a $1,700 place.  Second of all, if you’re not happy with the money, don’t take it. But most importantly, take your problem to someone who can do something about it.

You don’t have to like what Brees said (after all, the truth hurts) but you have to understand that Brees actually fought for the retirees to get more money.

And though Brees’ statement continues to backfire on him and the union, those close to Brees says he was one of the retired players’ biggest advocates in trying to give back to the players who came before him — and to get everybody to understand the importance of doing so. Witness a radio interview he gave last April to XX 1090 in San Diego.

“I know that I’m fighting for so many people here, for former players in the form of improving their pensions and disability benefits to take care of those guys that built this game for us and future players too,” he said. “To be honest with you, this is one of those things that when a settlement is reached, that settlement is something that I’m probably never going to benefit from. It’s guys before me, it’s guys that are going to come after me. So for me, there’s so many guys that made sacrifices before us to make this game better.”

So, now there’s a $620 million “Legacy Fund” that didn’t exist before the new CBA. This money is for the players who retired before 1993 and exists to increase pensions. There’s another $300 million on the table for health benefits that didn’t exist before the new CBA.

But, it seems that isn’t good enough for Pastorini. It begs the question what would be good enough for him, and I would bet he doesn’t even know the answer to that; you can’t easily quantify “more.”

Forget about Drew Brees. F–k you, Dan Pastorini.

The Dubsism 2011 Pre-Season NFL Power Rankings

As we find ourselves on the verge of another NFL season, it is time for the degenerate gambler in me to preview the carnage. Let’s face it, the NFL is comprised of  three classes: Really Good, Mediocre, and Lousy.  This means NFL predictions are pretty easy to get reasonably correct. For example, the online sports book experts find it easy to predict the AFC East standings each year. As long as quarterback Tom Brady is playing for head coach Bill Belichick in New England, that will be your division favorite. Another point that should be obvious is that if you are reading this article and expecting anything more clever than a sports book expert, maybe you shouldn’t be gambling in the first place.

Having said that, here’s how we see these teams come January (playoff teams noted in green).

Rankings by Division

AFC East

The Patriots looked invincible last season until the New York Jets found their Achilles’ heel. Once you take away the Patriots running game, their offense suddenly can’t create plays. However, the Pats’ seem to have addressed that by solidifying the offensive line.  Otherwise, the Patriots needed to make two major changes;  they needed help in the defensive secondary, and they needed size in the running game. Danny Woodhead is a great story, but he’s a munchkin, and teams had him figured out by the playoffs. Brandon Meriwether is a fraud, and has been for a while. This is why the Patriots drafted defensive back Ras-I Dowling and running back Shane Vereen. When you stop to consider the Patriots’ past success at player scouting and development (don’t make me break out the Tom Brady cliché yet again), it is safe to assume that the Patriots solved their problems.

Q: Who knew this looked a future Hall-of-Famer? A: Bill Belichick.

But don’t sleep on the Jets.  The Jets get the second spot in the AFC East by default; the Bills and Dolphins are both in that “Lousy” category. The Jets season hinges on two things: the defense has to live up to expectations by being the dominant unit it should be, and Mark Sanchez has to not suck. Frankly, it is time for Sanchez to prove he is worthy of the star status he has been accorded. If he finally shows us he is the “San-chise,” the sky is the limit for the Jets. If not, expect another playoff loss.

  1. New England Patriots
  2. New York Jets
  3. Miami Dolphins
  4. Buffalo Bills

AFC North

The Ravens defense used to be radioactive to offenses, but like all radioactive elements, eventually they pass their half-life and the decay becomes noticeable. This may not be the year that happens, but it is getting more likely with time. If the Ravens are going to make a move and snatch this division from the Steelers, that defense needs to stay healthy and give us one more season of nuclear-powered destruction. Anything short of that, and we may very well be seeing those damn Terrible Towels deep into the playoffs.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. Baltimore Ravens
  3. Cleveland Browns
  4. Cincinnati Bengals

AFC South

This division goes to the Texans by default. Tennessee has a new head coach, and I have no faith that Matt Hasselbeck is the cure to all that ailed the Titans. Jacksonville is just plain bad, and I can’t sell on the Colts fast enough. If you saw Indianapolis in the pre-season, you saw the lack of Peyton Manning is only one problem this team has. The offensive line couldn’t block a hat, the defense acts more like the express lane at the toll-booth, and head coach Jim Caldwell couldn’t find his balls with both hands. However, in all fairness, it’s not like the Texans have ever shown they know where their balls are either; they’ve never once showed they have what it takes to win.

  1. Houston Texans
  2. Tennessee Titans
  3. Indianapolis Colts
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars

AFC West

Here’s another default situation that just drives me nuts. Every year, I get sucked in by the Chargers, only to watch them underperform. I honestly wish I could say with confidence San Diego can’t win this division, but who else can? The Raiders didn’t lose a division game last year, but they also have a new head coach, question marks all over the roster, and the usual Raider drama. The Chiefs showed what they were in that seal-clubbing they took at the hands of the Ravens in the playoff last season, and they didn’t get better since then. Do I even need to mention the Denver Tebows?

  1. San Diego Chargers
  2. Oakland Raiders
  3. Kansas City Chiefs
  4. Denver Broncos

NFC East

We could call this division the NFC Over-Rated. I swear to god, the next person who refers to the Eagles as “dream team” will get kicked in the neck (I say this as a lifelong Eagles fan). They have some serious issues on the offensive line, and I will give you even money Michael Vick proves to be a bust on that big contract he just got. Don’t forget he got the crap beaten out of him last season and lost five games due to injury, plus he got progressively worse as the season went on. Not to mention he is age-wise already north of 30, and I don’t know of too many athletes that aged like wine; running quarterbacks age like milk.

Then there’s the Cowboys. To buy this team, I need to do two things that make me nervous. First, I have to buy Tony Romo as a quarterback who can win a game that means something; that’s compounded by the fact he plays behind an offensive line that at times can look like five matadors in silver and blue. Secondly, I need to see head coach Jason Garrett take this team out of the gate as “the man;” last year I suspect he got a bump in performance out of that team just for not being fat Bob Newhart Wade Phillips.

As far as the Giants are concerned…well, let’s just say the difference between Tony Romo and Eli Manning is pure, uncut luck. Without one David Tyree catch against his helmet as the best possible time, we are likely dogging the drunken, non-misshapen-headed Manning as badly as we dog Romo now. Besides, that one catch lengthens the time before I will see Tom Coughlin standing by a freeway on-ramp holding a sign which says “will be an asshole for food.”

One of these quarterbacks is probably not a homosexual. The other is Eli Manning.

The only thing for sure about this division is that the Redskins will be a vortex of inter-galactic suckittude; the kind that generates such a gravitational pull it threatens to collapse under its own mass.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles
  2. New York Giants
  3. Dallas Cowboys
  4. Washington Redskins

NFC North

The Packers return better as defending champs not because they added tons of talent in the off-season; rather because they are entering with all the talent they lost due to injury. Let’s face it, the 2010 Packers were so beat up last year they looked like the battered women’s shelter by Mike Tyson’s house. If they can learn to slip that “I’m off my Lithium again” left-hook the NFL season can throw, the Packers will prove to be more than a Buster Douglas-type one-trick pony.

Meanwhile, three hours to the south lies the enigma known as the Chicago Bears. How can a team have so many ex-head coaches on its staff (Mike Martz, Rod Marinelli, and Mike Tice) and not know that a key to a successful offense is not letting the other team turn their quarterback into lawn mulch? It is easy to beat on Jay Cutler, but’s let’s be fair, he could sue his offensive line for non-support. If there’s a guy in Chicago who should be getting called out, it’ s Lovie Smith. He’s done the least with the most talent of nearly any coach in this league, and yet his job never seems to be in danger. One can make an argument that a coach who didn’t have his head up his ass could have won two Super Bowls with the Bears during the Lovie regime, but nobody ever seems to mention that…

If Wal-Mart made a cheap, Guatemalan-made version of the New York Jets, it might just be the Detroit Lions. Let’s look at the common components:

  • A team that will likely have a bone-shattering defense
  • A team designed around a “ball-control” offense
  • A team with a young quarterback who needs to prove he’s the real deal
This will be the first year of the post-Favre debacle in Minnesota; an era that will be marked by 6-win seasons and a continued failure to understand the value of the quarterback position and the talent required to make a winner.
  1. Green Bay Packers
  2. Chicago Bears
  3. Detroit Lions
  4. Minnesota Vikings

NFC South

The NFL Lockout really was a cover story so Drew Brees could hang out with Seal Team 6 and waste some bad guys.

The Saints may very well be the most complete offense in the NFC. Drew Brees and Sean Payton make the brainiest quarterback-coach combination since Joe Montana and Bill Walsh. Not only did the running game get better simply by the subtraction of Reggie StolenHeisman-KardashianReject,  the addition of running back Mark Ingram and “I’m gonna smash you in the mouth” center Olin Kreutz, makes for a physical ground game to go with the Brees and Company Flying Circus.

Every since draft day, we’ve known the Falcons think they are “that one piece away,” and they think that piece is wide receiver Julio Jones. Honestly, I would be more concerned about the impending breakdown of running back Michael Turner; in the past few seasons he’s touched more balls than the lady who does the lottery drawings.

  1. New Orleans Saints
  2. Atlanta Falcons
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  4. Carolina Panthers

NFC West

Welcome to the NFC 7-9 Division, or as I like to call it, the “Somebody’s got to win it” Division. Honestly, I loved all the belly aching that went on about how a team with a losing record shouldn’t be in the playoffs despite the fact the SeaHacks won under the architecture provided, and the people who bitched the loudest about the NFL playoff system are the same ones who beat on college football for not having a playoff. Plus, it was these very same people who bitched about my solution for the college playoff issue who stole the line form the “Poll and Bowl” crowd about this being about the “best teams, not just those who win a bad division.”

That was until the SeaHacks knocked out the Saints. Then it all stopped. It really doesn’t matter, because one of these teams will be in the playoffs whether you like it or not.

  1. St. Louis Rams
  2. Arizona Cardinals
  3. San Francisco 49ers
  4. Seattle Seahawks

Overall Rankings

  1. New England Patriots
  2. Green Bay Packers
  3. Philadelphia Eagles
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers
  5. New York Jets
  6. New Orleans Saints
  7. San Diego Chargers
  8. Atlanta Falcons
  9. Baltimore Ravens
  10. New York Giants
  11. Houston Texans
  12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  13. Dallas Cowboys
  14. Chicago Bears
  15. Miami Dolphins
  16. St. Louis Rams
  17. Tennessee Titans
  18. Detroit Lions
  19. Indianapolis Colts
  20. Arizona Cardinals
  21. Oakland Raiders
  22. Cleveland Browns
  23. Kansas City Chiefs
  24. Jacksonville Jaguars
  25. Seattle Seahawks
  26. Minnesota Vikings
  27. San Francisco 49’ers
  28. Buffalo Bills
  29. Denver Broncos
  30. Cincinnati Bengals
  31. Washington Redskins
  32. Carolina Panthers

The Top 10 Football Factories – And Some That Didn’t Make The List

With the NFL Draft looming, I found a list courtesy of the NFL Network featuring the schools consider to be the Top Ten Football Factories. We here at Dubsism took that list and crossed it against each schools three arguably most interesting players. Be mindful of the fact this list was devised and ordered by the NFL Network and not us, which is why before you write us nasty letters about it, wait for our comments at the end so you can be REALLY pissed when you comment.

10) Tennessee

Their  Top Three – Peyton Manning, Reggie White, Doug Atkins

Those are three top-flight hall-of-famers, and that’s only part of the reason why Tennessee belongs on this list. In terms of college football, Tennessee has a long history; the Volunteers were the power of the SEC before Bear Bryant and Alabama. Of course, recent history hasn’t been kind to the Vols, and that’s just fine with me, since Tenneesee still grinds my gears.

9) The Mid-America Conference (MAC)

Their Top Three – Jack Lambert, Ben Roethlisberger, Randy Moss

Honestly, this entry caused the most discussion amongst the staff here at Dubsism; at least no punches were thrown this time, but suffice it to say there are several staffers here who fervently believe it is wrong to include an entire conference. In defense of the MAC, that’s a pretty solid Top Three as compared to some of the others on this list. I would like to believe the MAC is here to represent the contributions of all small schools, but more importantly, look at what those three represent – a toothless psychopath, a multi-ringed “may-be” rapist, and complete douchebag.

8 ) Syracuse

Their Top Three – Jim Brown, John Mackey, Donovan McNabb

This is just the saddest story on this list; the classic case of how the mighty have fallen. In my lifetime, I’ve watched the Orange go from the pride of eastern football to a team that can barely stay afloat in the weakest big conference in football. I blame it all on Dick MacPherson, their Hall-of-Fame coach who steadily built the Orangemen into an Eastern football power. One of SU’s most stunning wins during MacPherson’s tenure came in 1984 when the Orangemen upset then No. 1 Nebraska, 17-9. MacPherson later bolted from the Orange, trying to parlay his success in college into a career in the NFL, but his two years stint with the New England Patriots..well, let’s just say calling it an “abject failure” is being kind. Sadly, the Orange have been rancid ever since.

7) Penn State

Their Top Three – Jack Ham, Lenny Moore, John Cappelletti

This is another case of a school getting its coach hired away by the New England Patriots. Back in 1972, the Patriots offered Joe Paterno a contract which have made him football’s first million-dollar coach, a contract which JoePa accepted. However, his tenure as an NFL coach lasted less than 12 hours; the morning after signing the deal, Paterno called the Patriots to tell them the deal was off. Had Paterno left, it is a certainty the Nittany Lions would have languished at the bottom of college football for decades; just look at what happened to Syracuse. Hell, it could have been worse, look at what happened to SMU when Ron Meyer left for New England.

6) Alabama

Their Top Three – Joe Namath, John Hannah, Derrick Thomas

Given their history, there is not anybody young or old who didn’t picture this team on this list. And why not? Alabama has always paid as well, if not better than any NFL franchise.

5) Michigan

Their Top Three – Dan Dierdorf, Tom Brady, President Gerald Ford

There’s only three other schools that have produced both a Super Bowl winning quarterback and a U.S. President – Navy (Roger Staubach/Jimmy Carter), Stanford (John Elway & Jim Plunkett/Herbert Hoover), and Miami of Ohio (Ben Roethislberger/Benjamin Harrison), but Michigan is the only one whose quarterback has won the Super Bowl three times (Tom Brady) and whose President was also an All-American offensive lineman. Despite that, Michigan also grinds my gears.

It saya a lot about Michigan when their alums appear on TV wearing Penn State gear.

4) Ohio State

Their Top Three – Jim Parker, Paul Warfield, Cris Carter

Another school with long history, and a new problem. Nobody can deny Ohio State has pumped hundreds of players into the NFL, but given the stuff swirling around the football program these days, one starts wondering how many hundreds are going to be pumped into the pockets of defense attorneys and bail bondsmen in the near future.  Given that, it shouldn’t shock anybody the effect Ohio State has on my gears.

3) Notre Dame

Their Top Three – Joe Montana, Paul Hornung, Alan Page

It is about time law enforcment looked into the Irish problem.

Now, Notre Dame is a team that produces more corpses with scissor-lifts and sexual assault reports than it does NFL talent, but let’s not forget this list is historically  all-inclusive.  The way things look in south Bend now, it is feasible the Fighting Irish could be moving down this list over time; Notre Dame doesn’t look to be a top-flight program anytime soon.

2) Miami, FL

Their Top Three – Jim Kelly, Ray Lewis, Michael Irvin

If Notre Dame represents the oldest of history, Miami is the other side of the college football coin; the Hurricanes were hardly a breeze until the 1980’s. But in that time they have produced an astonishing amount of talent. But they also spent most of the 80’s being completely hateable, leading to one of my favorite moments in all of college football – Pete Giftopoulous’ interception at the end of the 4th quarter of the 1987 Fiesta Bowl, giving Penn State the national championship over Miami.

1) Southern Cal

Their Top Three – Ronnie Lott, Bruce Matthews, O.J. Simpson

In most cities with multiple professional sports franchises, there’s a “pecking order” in terms who gets fan support no matter what; the team which is always in the spotlight.  In New York, the top of the food chain is inhabited by the Yankees and the Knicks. In Chicago, that honor belongs to the Cubs and the Bears. In Los Angeles, its the Lakers and USC. Make no mistake, the Trojans are every bit a professional franchise; they’ve got the NCAA sanctions to prove it. Long before that, there’s reason I called them them U$¢ (The University of Dollars and Cents).

The thing that really struck the staff here at Dubsism was not the teams on the list (other than that whole MAC thing), but some of the teams not on it.

Texas – Their Top Three – Earl Campbell, Bobby Layne, Tommy Nobis

Their exclusion has to be because for close to 25 years after the Darrell Royal era, for the most part Texas became an afterthought on the national landscape.

OklahomaTheir Top Three – Lee Roy Selmon, Billy Sims, Tommy McDonald

The Sooners got left off the list for two words – Brian Bosworth.

PurdueTheir Top Three – Len Dawson, Bob Griese, Drew Brees

Ok, I know this one is a stretch, but I would put West Lafayette Vo-Tech Purdue on the list over an entire conference just on quarterbacks alone. Alabama is the only other school that has produced three Super Bowl winning quarterbacks (Bart Starr, Joe Namath, Ken Stabler) and the three produced by Purdue are to a man better quarterbacks than the three coming from the Tide. Then there’s all the other legit NFL quarterbacks this school has produced other than the ones already mentioned –  Gary Danielson, Bob DeMoss, Jim Everett, Jeff George (transferred/got kicked out to Illinois), Mark Herrmann, Mike Phipps, and the Greatest Athlete in the History of Ever, Kyle Orton.

GramblingTheir Top Three – Everson Walls, Doug Williams, Charlie Joiner

Eddie Robinson produced so much NFL talent – a list of the players he prepared for NFL success reads like a list of guys you forgot about, but when you read the list, its a never-ending parade of “how the hell did I forget that guy!” Look past the three we already mentioned – there’s still Buck Buchanan, Ernie “Big Cat” Ladd, Sammy White, Trumaine Johnson, James Harris, Willie Brown, Willie Davis, “Tank” Younger, and 1976 Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner.

The Dubsism 2010 Pre-Season NFL Power Rankings

Rankings by Division

AFC East

Any way you slice it, the Jets made a statement during last season’s playoff win in San Diego. The scary part is they have built on that team since then. Granted, they need to get the holdout situation with Darelle Revis resolved, but once they do, it will be very difficult for teams to throw the ball against a defense with two shutdown corners and #1 draft pick waiting in the wings. Meanwhile, Mark Sanchez is on the verge of being the next breakout star in this league, and the Jets have put a solid line in front of him and a myriad of weapons around him.

Tyrannosaurus Rex may be ready to devour the NFL.

While this is the Jets’ division to lose, both the Patriots and the Dolphins stand ready to snatch it away should they stumble.  Tom Brady is still Tom Brady even after the ACL injury, Randy Moss seems to have a few more reps left in the tank, and Wes Welker will return by some point in September.  They also added some depth at the tight end position and in the secondary. However, Miami also made plenty of acquisitions on both sides of the ball. Brandon Marshall becomes the  true downfield threat Chad Henne needed to complete the passing game. Add that to running back Ronnie Brown and a solid offensive line anchored by Jake Long, and the ‘Phins sport a well-balanced offense that will give headaches to defensive coordinators across the league.

  1. New York Jets
  2. New England Patriots
  3. Miami Dolphins
  4. Buffalo Bills

AFC North

Even though the Baltimore Ravens have started resembling a MASH unit, they have too much talent and depth not to whether a few injuries.  The loss of Domonique Foxworth brings questions, and they really need a healthy Ed Reed, but this team no longer relies solely on that fearsome defense. With offseason additions Anquan Boldin and Donte’ Stallworth, the Ravens will likely supplant the Vikings as the most interesting offense wearing purple.

The Steelers are likely the most balanced team in this league with or without Ben Roethlisberger. While it seems most probable that Big Ben’s suspension will be shortened from six to four games, the period Pittsburgh has to be without him may make or break their season.

This leads us to the team most likely to dissappoint; the Cincinnati Bengals. The Queen City Kitties have been garnering a lot of buzz around Terrell Owens, Ochocinco, but this comes from the same mentality that worships the over-the-hill Brett Favre. It makes sense though, because T-Old and King Brett I have some things in common: they’re way past their prime, they are cancers in the locker room (when they actually show up), and they haven’t won anything in years. Ultimately, the fate of the Bengals falls on the performance of the offense. The defense is one of the best in the league, but if the offense doesn’t perform after the team invested in Antonio Bryant, Jermaine Gresham, plus two wide receivers drafted in the third and sixth rounds, heads will roll in Cincinnati. And at the end of the day, it will all be for not if Cedric Benson doesn’t repeat his solid 2009 season on the ground.

  1. Baltimore Ravens
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers
  3. Cincinnati Bengals
  4. Cleveland Browns

If Colt McCoy starts for the Browns, he may get even more familiar with this position.

AFC South

FACT: The Colts are the defending AFC Champions and are returning most of the roster. FACT: Peyton Manning is the best quarterback in the league; the only one who gives his team a chance to win every time he touches the ball.  FACT: The Colts have developed a culture of winning while becoming one the NFL’s model franchises.

So why am I not buying the Colts?

FACT: The offensive live is old and largely mediocre. FACT: The Colts running game is a joke. FACT: The defense has some star power, but is largely a middle-of-the-pack unit that isn’t capable of dominating a ball game if it needs to. In other words, for the Colts run of 12-win seasons is to continue, a lot of “ifs” have to break the right way, and it may just be the number of “ifs” has finally surpassed Manning’s ability to overcome them.

Even Peyton Manning knows he can only audible out of a fixed amount of problems.

Plus, the Colts are going to face a host of teams in their own division that historically play them tough. The Titans got rid of some age (replacing Kyle Vanden Bosch with first-round pick Derrick Morgan) while performing a bit of  “addition by subtraction” by getting rid of chronic under-performer LenDale White.  Once the Titans combine that with a full season of the game-changing Vince Young we saw in 2009 and the most interesting weapon in the league in Chris Johnson, they can easily give the Colts fits.

Don’t sleep on the Texans, either. This team could easily be a dark horse in the AFC. With Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson form the core of one of the league’s best high-octane offenses, if they can rekindle the running game, they will provide more than one surprise during the coming season. The big question mark will be the progression of the defense. While it boasts young stars like Mario Williams and Brian Cushing, they did lose Dunta Robinson in the off-season, and they get to face offenses like the Cowboys, Giants, Chargers, Ravens, plus the Titans and the Colts twice.

  1. Tennessee Titans
  2. Indianapolis Colts
  3. Houston Texans
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars

AFC West

While the Chargers do face some pre-season holdout issues, and the transition to the post-LaDanian Tomlinson era has begun, but this is still one of the best squads in the NFL. Philip Rivers is a legitimate franchise quarterback even if he gets no respect, Antonio Gates is the league’s best tight end, and Malcolm Floyd is more than ready to become River’s #1 target. Now, the Chargers just need to find a way to keep playoff games off the foot of Nate Kaeding.

Meanwhile in Denver, Josh McDaniels is clearly building a team around guys who are not a pain in the ass. So far, he’s exiled (probably correctly) Jay Cutler to the NFL’s version of Ice Planet Hoth, he shipped Brandon Marshall to Miami, while adding drunk-but-quiet Kyle Orton. Then there’s this year’s draft where McDaniels passed over bad-reputation wide receiver Dez Bryant for Demaryius Thomas. Then there was the drafting of Saint Tebow.

Can Saint Tebow and the Holy Orton play savior for Josh McDaniels?

But don’t forget that Tebow won a national championship at Florida while playing second fiddle at quarterback to the oft-maligned Chris Leak. For some reason, Kyle Orton is a guy who can’t get any love anywhere he goes, despite the fact that he wins football games wherever he goes. Whether or not Tebow sees the field this season matters little. What matters is this season when Orton mentors the young Saint to be an NFL quarterback is also a make or break proposition for Josh McDaniels.

  1. San Diego Chargers
  2. Denver Broncos
  3. Oakland Raiders
  4. Kansas City Chiefs

NFC East

On paper, the Cowboys offer one the most talented teams in the league. Too bad they don’t play the games on paper. Frankly, I’m convinced that the Cowboys as an organization are bi-polar. This is a team that can look dominant against Philadelphia team that was nearly a #2 seed in the NFC last year (more on why those days are over in a bit) and yet get destroyed by the more pretender-than-contender Vikings. Despite that inconsistency, Dallas just has too much talent on the roster not to be recognized as one of the top squads in the NFC. Hopefully, the soap opera that is the Cowboys is on hiatus as indicated by the shockingly silent off-season; this team can either win football games or be drama queens. It can not do both.

This way, if the Cowboys don't win, at least Wade Phillips won't see the sniper hired by Jerry Jones.

If Dez Bryant can provide a third viable option for the passing game and if Tony Romo can play leader and mitigate the aforementioned wackiness from which this team suffers, there are not very many teams in the conference that could keep the Cowboys out of Super Bowl. Of course, one of those teams could be the Cowboys, especially if they don’t address two areas. In general, the offensive line needs to understand that keeping Romo alive is a team function, particularly with the departure of left tackle Flozell Adams. The other soft spot is the secondary; it is time for Mike Jenkins to step up and lead that unit into providing an effective pass-defense.

Meanwhile, the Giants will be depending on their stockpile of defensive linemen to ease the pressure on a rebuilt secondary, one that depends on a healthy Kenny Phillips and the newly acquired Antrelle Rolle to stop the bleeding from last season. The odds that the Eagles will figure in the standings in this division stand directly in between “slim” and “none.” Read that as “none” for the Redskins.

The simple fact is that the Eagles are completely gambling on their young quarterback Kevin Kolb. You may think they are rebuilding, I may think they are rebuilding, the world may think they are rebuilding, but the Eagles seem to be in a complete state of denial. The post McNabb/Westbrook era offers a ton of uncertainties on offense, but anybody wearing green in Philadelphia seems to be sticking to the party line. The coaching staff seem convinced that Kolb was ready for full-time action last season, and some whisper that he might be a better fit in Andy Reid’s offense than Donovan McNabb himself.  I guess September will tell all.

  1. Dallas Cowboys
  2. New York Giants
  3. Philadelphia Eagles
  4. Washington Redskins

See, Jerry Jones just wants to shoot people.

NFC North

The Packer offense may be the best in the conference. When you watch the development this squad showed between game 4 and game 10 of last season coupled with the additions made during the off-season, it is hard not to picture Green Bay along side the Cowboys and the Saints as the class of the NFC. The offensive line that was Swiss cheese in September became a stone wall in December, a wall that only got mightier with the addition of first-round tackle Bryan Bulaga.

There is a concern that the loss of Aaron Kampman, the suspension of Johnny Jolly, and the starting-to-get-up-there age of the secondary leaves too many questions for a contender. First of all, those issues aren’t likely to spell a fatal drop-off for a defense that was ranked second in the entire league last year. More importantly, they are just question, not the facts that doom the Vikings.

FACT: The Vikings find themselves stuck in yet another soap opera, no thanks to the drama queen quarterback for whom they’ve mortgaged their future. FACT: Brett Favre joined a division-winning team and transformed it into a division-winning team. FACT: The Vikings did nothing to address the weaknesses which cost them a trip to the Super Bowl.

We all know the bullshit Brett Favre puts teams through every off-season now. It’s all just that…bullshit. But the big problem the Vikings don’t seem ready to address is that all their current eggs and all their future eggs are in Favre’s basket; a basket being bet on a Super Bowl championship. But the Vikings weren’t a Super Bowl-worthy team last year, and they’ve regressed in the off-season. The Viking running game rates only in the middle of the pack despite the fact it featured two stud-caliber running backs. Of the two, only Adrian Peterson remains, and while Peterson is a physical specimen the likes of which only come along once a generation, it all goes for naught if he can’t stop putting the ball on the ground.

But the real reason this team can’t run the football is because as a unit, the offensive line sucks out loud. Steve Hutchison is the real deal at guard,  John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt may someday be legitimate NFL players, but Bryant McKinnie and Anthony Herrera shouldn’t be allowed as grade-school crossing guards let alone NFL linemen. Viking fans love to bitch about all the “dirty” hits Favre took against the Saints; they miss the point that a good line wouldn’t let defenders get that close that often. They rest of the league saw that; it’s no coincidence the Bears and Lions both stocked up on defensive linemen. When you add all that to the fact the Vikings’ secondary is a glaring weakness that was not realistically addressed (Lito Sheppard would have been a nice addition 5 years ago), this team may have enough talent to make the playoffs, but are “one and done” at best.

  1. Green Bay Packers
  2. Minnesota Vikings
  3. Chicago Bears
  4. Detroit Lions

NFC South

One could be accused of taking the easy way out by saying the defending Super Bowl champions are the best team in the league. But let’s look at what has changed: Drew Brees is still running a high-powered offense which is returning every key contributor. On defense, the goal in the off-season was to add to an opportunistic, ball-hawking defense so as to give Brees and the offense a bit more margin for error. That mission was accomplished by signing defensive ends Alex Brown and Jimmy Wilkerson, and by drafting cornerback Patrick Robinson). Also, by keeping Darren Sharper, it is just another finger in the eye of the Vikings; a living, breathing reminder that Minnesota keeps coming up short in part due to its stupid player personnel decisions.

Not be overshadowed, but this division features another reasonably good football team. Led by Matt Ryan and Michael Turner, the Atlanta Falcons have the right combination of a high-flying offense and a defense that can allow the offense to take over games.

  1. New Orleans Saints
  2. Atlanta Falcons
  3. Carolina Panthers
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What is "Fuck you, I have a Super Bowl ring and you don't?"

NFC West

One would expect a team led by Mike Singeltary to feature a bone-bruising defense, and it does. Now it seems the offense is gearing up for some smash-mouth of its own, considering the 49’ers used two first-round picks to draft a couple of man-mountains in Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati for the offensive line. With an improved line and weapons like a healthy Frank Gore, receivers Michael Crabtree and Ted Ginn, Jr., and tight end Vernon Davis, it’s “fish or cut bait” time for former #1 pick quarterback Alex Smith.

Oh, and the Cardinals after having lost a slew of key players such as Kurt Warner, Antrelle Rolle, Karlos Dansby, and Anquan Boldin, still feature talent like Beanie Wells, Early Doucet, and Larry Fitzgerald. That’s really all it takes to be the other team in this division that doesn’t suck.

  1. San Francisco 49ers
  2. Arizona Cardinals
  3. Seattle Seahawks
  4. St. Louis Rams

Overall Rankings

  1. New Orleans Saints
  2. New York Jets
  3. San Diego Chargers
  4. Dallas Cowboys
  5. Baltimore Ravens
  6. Green Bay Packers
  7. Tennessee Titans
  8. Indianapolis Colts
  9. Minnesota Vikings
  10. San Francisco 49’ers
  11. New England Patriots
  12. New York Giants
  13. Pittsburgh Steelers
  14. Philadelphia Eagles
  15. Denver Broncos
  16. Arizona Cardinals
  17. Atlanta Falcons
  18. Houston Texans
  19. Miami Dolphins
  20. Cincinnati Bengals
  21. Carolina Panthers
  22. Chicago Bears
  23. Washington Redskins
  24. Seattle Seahawks
  25. Buffalo Bills
  26. Jacksonville Jaguars
  27. Oakland Raiders
  28. Detroit Lions
  29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  30. Kansas City Chiefs
  31. Cleveland Browns
  32. St. Louis Rams

Expect Drew Brees To Be Eaten By Giant Cockroaches

It’s official…New Orleans Saints quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees is the cover athlete for Madden NFL 11

 

Brees won out over Minnesota Vikings’ serial drunk-driver defensive end Jared Allen and Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne in EA Sports’ first fan voting campaign to choose the cover athlete. Of course, this means Brees is likely to be the next to suffer the “Madden Curse:”

  • 2010 – Troy Polamalu: Played only five games due to knee injuries
  • 2007 – Shaun Alexander: Fractured foot, missed six games
  • 2006 – Donovan McNabb: Sports hernia, missed seven games; feuded with Terrell Owens all year; had been to five straight Pro Bowls, hasn’t been since
  • 2005 – Ray Lewis: Broke wrist, missed one game; first season without interception; missed 10 games next year with thigh injury
  • 2004 –  Michael Vick: Fractured fibula one day after video game was released, missed 11 games; Pro Bowl next 2 seasons; obvious issues since then
  • 2003 – Marshall Faulk: Ankle injury, missed two games, never rushed for 1,000 yards again
  • 2001 – Daunte Culpepper: 4-7 record before season-ending knee injury
  • 2000 – Barry Sanders: Retired one week before training camp
  • 1999- Garrison Hearst – Shatters an ankle so badly it takes two years to heal. Hearst is never really an effective NFL player again

So, enjoy it while you can, Saints’ fans, because the odds are soon your quarterback will suffer some sort of disabling injury. Or, he might just plain suck. Either way, this is what you get for not voting for Jared Allen a few more times.

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