Honestly, this is just an update of some interesting numbers from a piece I wrote last year concerning Peyton Manning’s proclivity for gagging in big games.
- FACT: In three years at Tennessee, Peyton Manning never beat main rival Florida.
- FACT: Peyton Manning now owns a 11-12 playoff record as a starting quarterback.
- FACT: In 8 of Manning’s 13 career playoff appearances, his team has failed to win a single game.
- FACT: Peyton Manning is 0-4 in playoff games in temperatures below 40 degrees.
- FACT: Manning is now has the most playoff losses by a starting quarterback in NFL history.
With all the talk about Manning’s legacy, you simply cannot gloss over his post-season failures.
For all the media-generated bluster that has happened today over Indianapolis Colts’ owner Jim Irsay’s comments about his former quarterback, one thing that has bee largely forgotten is that everything Irsay said is true. In case you missed it, here’s what he said in an interview with USA Today Sports. The context is Irsay is lamenting the fact the Colts had only one title to show for all their success with Peyton Manning.
“[Tom] Brady never had consistent numbers, but he has three of these [Super Bowl rings],” Irsay told USA Today. Pittsburgh had two, the Giants had two, Baltimore had two and we had one. That leaves you frustrated. You make the playoffs 11 times, and you’re out in the first round seven out of 11 times. You love to have the ‘Star Wars’ numbers from Peyton and Marvin [Harrison] and Reggie [Wayne]. Mostly, you love this ring.”
So, what Irsay is saying is a) the NFL is all about winning Super Bowls, and b) Peyton Manning is a horse-shit “big-game” quarterback.
Don’t even try to tell me that the first one isn’t true. Winning a Super Bowl is like becoming a Yokozuna in Sumo Wrestling. Once you have the ring, you are always a grand champion and no matter what, they can never take it away from you. The fact that Tony Dungy has one is the only reason anybody bothers to listen to the crap spewing from that little bat-faced, moralizing asswipe. I’ll come back to him in a minute.
You can try to deny the second point is untrue; doing so is to ignore a few crushing facts.
- FACT: In three years at Tennessee, Peyton Manning never beat main rival Florida.
- FACT: Peyton Manning owns a 9-11 playoff record as a starting quarterback.
- FACT: In 8 of Manning’s 12 career playoff appearances, his team has failed to win a single game.
- FACT: Manning is tied with Brett Favre for the most playoff losses by a starting quarterback in NFL history
Yet another week has passed in the sportsgasm that is the NFL season, and that means it is time for us to tell you some things you need to know without the self-serving spin those assbags at ESPN will never give you. We know this because if you think you can get real football information from guys like Merrill Hoge and Trent Dilfer, you probably also think the earth is flat and that Kennedy was assassinated by Daffy Duck.
1) Either the Jets aren’t that bad, or the Patriots aren’t that good: Pick one.
Let’s just cut through the bullshit here; the Patriots aren’t that good. When you see Tom Brady mugging, screaming, and eye-rolling at his receivers, you know that Patriots offense is more out-of-sync than a 1985 Yugo with bad spark plugs. In contrast, when the Orlando Magic were in their heyday, Shaquille O’Neal once famously called coach Stan Van Gundy the “master of panic.” Bill Belichick couldn’t be more opposite when it comes to being so stoic people are worried pigeons might start shitting on him, but make no mistake. Brady’s antics show there is panic in Foxboro.
If you are the Patriots, this is exactly the time to start panicking. In all fairness, the Patriots could easily be 0-2. There’s exactly four points separating them from being winless. They haven’t covered the spread yet. They were beat by Buffalo for 59 minutes, and they played down to the level of the sorry-ass Jets, so we can clearly understand why there’s a panic breaking out in New England. For all of us who have had to suffer through the pretentious attitude Patriot fans are known for, we love hearing the panic in your voices, because it’s better than your tacky Boston accent that sounds like somebody left an audio interview of Godsmack on in the background.
Without any further fanfare, let’s just get to the stuff week one of the NFL season showed us.
1) Peyton Manning’s performance hid the fact the Broncos’ defense sucks.
If Thursday night taught us anything, it’s that the Broncos are indeed going to struggle on the defensive side of the ball. By “struggle,” we’re talking something akin to a turtle on its back getting gang-raped by a group of Hell’s Angels all to an all Kenny G soundtrack. If you consider all of the mistakes that Baltimore made offensively, the fact that Denver gave up 27 points is pretty pathetic. Ray Rice is a pretty solid “yards after contact” guy, but against the Ponies defense, he got more second chances than Robert Downey Jr.
Not to mention, we aren’t even counting the mistake made on the interception return that by all that is right in the football universe should have resulted in yet another Broncos’ touchdown. This is where Danny Trevathan had a “Honey Badger meets DeSean Jackson” level brain-fart. After making the pick, and cruising to what should have been the “pick-six” part of this, he inexplicably released the ball before he crossed the goal line in a momentary lapse of judgment reminiscent of a young DeSean Jackson. As you would hope, Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio ripped Trevathan’s ass open like he was Edward Norton in the prison shower scene in American History X, because Denver can’t expect Grandpa Manning to chuck 7 touchdowns every week.
If the mere thought of the “Dubs-eteria” doesn’t inspire gastronomic terror, then the following menu items certainly should. The only defense we can offer is that these dishes still aren’t as lousy as anything you can get at Olive Garden.
The Baseball Writer’s Association of America “Poo-Poo” Platter
It doesn’t even come with a plate. You give us $29.95 and our head waiter will act like an self-righteous asshole “poo-pooing” deserving Hall of Famers while having security escort you to your car. Afterward, our head waiter will post an article on your Facebook page telling you how stupid you are for disagreeing with him.
Being that we are at the end of what has proven to be a tumultuous twelve months, why not take a look back at the biggest sports stories of such a year? After all, I’m pretty sure nobody else does these sort of retrospectives…
15) The Los Angeles Kings Win The Stanley Cup
For purposes of full disclosure, I have a bias on this one; I’ve been a Kings’ fan since I had to hold a puck with two hands. But there’s a couple of reasons why this win by the sole surviving original California hockey team (raise your hand if you remember the California Golden Seals) is a big story.
- The Kings are the first native Los Angeles team (not relocated from another city) to win a championship (Anaheim is NOT Los Angeles).
- The Kings became the first NHL team to enter the playoffs as the 8th seed and eliminate the 1st and 2nd seeded teams in their conference.
- The Kings became the first team to win the Stanley Cup entering the playoffs as a #8 seed.
- The Los Angeles Kings ended one of the longest championship droughts (45 years) when they hoisted the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.
The moral of the story: Don’t look now, but the Golden State is slowly becoming hockey territory. In the last twenty years, California has won more Stanley Cups than Canada has.
14) Johnny Football Becomes Johnny Heisman
The rise of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel had all the media hype of other stories you will see on this list, but it had one crucial difference. Johnny Football became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, thus breaking one of the last barriers in the history of the 50-pound trophy awarded by the Downtown Athletic Club. Manziel literally came from nowhere to the pinnacle of college football in a vote that was never really close.
The moral of the story: Until further notice, the Heisman is an award for quarterbacks and running backs only. If I had a vote, by sticking with the strict definition of the “best player in college football,” my ballot would have been as follows:
- Barrett Jones, C, Alabama
- Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
- Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
13) The Indianapolis Colts Cut Peyton Manning
The Peyton Manning era in Indianapolis came to a rather inglorious, if not completely anti-climactic end on March 7, when team owner Jim Irsay announced at a press conference that the team would release the man who had become the face of the Colts’ franchise. A 2-14 season during which Manning never saw the field due to a neck injury illustrated the need for a consideration for the future in Indianapolis. Couple that with the economic reality; cutting Manning meant the Colts would save a $28 million roster bonus due on March 8, plus be free-and-clear of the remainder of his contract. Add it all up, and it means this move surprised nobody, because it allowed the Colts to have money for the next franchise quarterback, #1 overall draft pick Andrew Luck.
The moral of the story: Even 4-time MVPs are no longer immune to the economic realities of sports.
12) Augusta National Adds Its First Female Members
To be honest, I’m an old-school guy who believes that private clubs should be able to pick and choose who they want as members. That’s why when I first found out that Augusta had caved to a bunch of ball-busting feminists with chin-whiskers and married to sociology professors, my neanderthal heart sank a bit. But when I found out that the women Augusta picked would completely piss-off the “drives a Subaru with a rainbow bumper sticker” crowd, I had renewed faith in all that is right. Who better to do that that the hated George Bush’s Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore, a woman who had the audacity to make a bazillion dollars in the world of corporate finance?
The moral of the story: Social activists, you too need to be careful of what you wish for.
11) The Resurgence of Notre Dame Football
Notre Dame last saw the top of the college football mountain in 1988. In the quarter-century since, the Irish have remained a media darling while simultaneously spending more time as a doormat than a contender. Since that last title, Notre Dame has appeared in exactly five BCS bowls, and has lost every single one of them by at least 14 points. They are 6-11 in bowl games overall in that time. There was a fifteen-year span between 1993 and 2008 where the Irish lacked a single post-season win.
But now they’ve managed to finish the regular season undefeated and ranked number #1, thanks largely to a key goal-line stand in overtime against Stanford, Pittsburgh’s inability to make a clutch kick, and a complete meltdown by Oklahoma. After all that, the Irish are set to face defending BCS champ Alabama for the title.
The moral of the story: Despite all the media attention the Irish are gathering, you would be hard-pressed to hear Notre Dame is a ten-point underdog.
10) The Beginning of the End of the National Hockey League
If you needed a perfect model for how not to run a professional sports league, you need look no further than the NHL. The latest example of their stupidity came with the latest failure to come to a collective bargaining agreement after two months of talks between team owners and the NHL Player’s Association broke down and the league entered its fourth work stoppage since 1992. I’ve never been the commissioner of anything bigger than a fantasy sports league, but even I know that in order to keep people interested in your sport, you need actually to play some games. As of now, that hasn’t happened, and with every passing day, it looks more likely that hockey fans will be deprived of an entire season for the third time since 1994.
It’s time to understand that even die-hard hockey fans like myself are ready to wash their hands of this shit. Idiotus Supremus Gary Bettman and the owners don’t get that they are killing a league over their insistence in making the players’ union pay for their complete lack of business sense. Fellow Sports Blog Movement member Ryan Meehan and I hit on this a while ago, but the keys remain in place. The owners locked the doors because the players wouldn’t accept a new collective bargaining agreement that requires players to accept salary cuts and limits on free agency, despite the fact the owners were more than happy to give those provisions without any threat. The union wants a better revenue sharing plan that help the league’s struggling franchises. Face it, the NHL needs to survive in the Winnipegs and the Buffalos of the world, because in North America, hockey is a regional sport with a limited appeal outside of that region.
The moral of the story: If Meehan, the players, and I can figure that out, what does it say for the future of this league that the owners can’t?
For 25 days last winter, an Asian Harvard graduate was the biggest story in all of sports. Think about that for a minute…Jeremy Lin had been sleeping on his brother’s couch, had been cut by two NBA teams, and was put into a game on February 4th by Mike D’Antoni, whose New York Knicks were so injury-depleted Lin was the only alternative left on the bench besides the towel guy. Lin went on to score 25 points and seven assists leading a comeback over the then-New Jersey Nets. Lin then lead the Knicks to seven straight wins, including one in which he hung 38 on Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. What began with a bang (perhaps literally, judging by the photo above) ended with a knee-injury and a quiet relocation to the Houston Rockets.
The moral of the story: All glory is fleeting.
8 ) Michael Phelps Becomes History’s Most Decorated Olympian
As far as I’m concerned, any guy who won 19 gold medals can do all the bong hits he wants. While most stoners can’t get past micro-waving a burrito and watching Scooby-Doo at the same time, this guy joined a frightfully short list of elite athletes while giggling stupidly at his own own reflection in a sheet of aluminum foil.
Phelps made the cover a Wheaties box in 2008 after he won eight Olympic gold medals in Beijing. but then came history’s most publicized bong toke. Phelps received a three-month suspension from USA Swimming and Kellogg’s said they would not renew their endorsement of the Olympian. which goes to show what dumb-asses they both are. USA Swimming finally re-instated Phelps and he went on to win nine more medals in London this past summer, his 19 medals surpassing the 18 won by Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina.
The moral of the story: Somebody ought to start a cereal called Weed-ies.
7) The NFL’s Replacement Referee Debacle
We all know what a debacle the NFL’s use of replacement referees was. The biggest indicator of what dipshits sports commissioners in this country are is that they make me sympathetic to scumbag unions.
The moral of the story: This is just one reason people will look back at 2012 as the beginning of the downfall of the Kommissar Goodell regime.
6) Lance Armstrong Stripped of Cycling Titles
While it isn’t an excuse, there is a shitload of truth in that quote in the above graphic. There’s a huge double-standard about cheating in this country; it is OK when your guy does it. And nobody was more of “America’s Guy” then Lance Armstrong was when was routinely humiliating the French in the Tour de France. That’s really the only reason anybody in America gave a damn about cycling; it was an exercise in hating the perfectly hateable French.
Back in August, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced that it was stripping Lance Armstrong of his record-seven Tour de France titles and barred him for life from the sport after concluding he used banned substances. On October 22, the International Cycling Union (UCI), cycling’s governing body, said that it had officially stripped Armstrong of his seven titles and banned him from cycling for life.
But then comes the part where the hypocrisy comes in again.
“He deserves to be forgotten,” UCI President Pat McQuaid said of Armstrong.
Give me a fucking break. Cycling is the dirtiest of the “dirty” sports when it comes to performance enhancing drugs; what’s going on in baseball might as well be the drug problem in pee-wee T-ball compared to cycling. All the UCI and USADA did was to catch the best cheater in sport filled with cheaters whose lifeblood literally is cheating.
The moral of the story: There’s nothing wrong with anything that sticks it to the French.
5) Speaking of Hypocrisy, Let’s Talk About The NCAA
Question: Do you know what the Jerry Sandusky and Sandy Hook Elementary School situations have in common, besides the fact they both involve monsters whose own self-absorbed impulses were brought to bear on many innocent people? They are both examples of how we in America love to pontificate about horrible things, yet do nothing about them.
In the wake of both of these terrible stories, you didn’t hear one credible person come out and say stupid shit like “I’m glad this happened. We need more events like this to learn our lessons.” Anybody who would have said anything like this would have been stamped USDA Prime Whacko and their words would have been filed in the appropriate plastic-bag lined receptacle. But no matter how many times you let a train run over a coin, it still has two sides, and there were far too many people ready to get on the other side of the bombastic coin from the stamped Whackos.
These were the people who took such a brave stand by table-pounding the obvious “we need to protect our children” reaction. There are lessons to be learned, and there are things as a society we need to do; the trouble is that we as society have completely missed the point.
The NCAA serves as the perfect microcosm of American society, and the ridiculous, pointless, and self-serving crap the NCAA does is a perfect reflection of the society in which it exists. It’s numb-handed response to the Sandusky scandal at Penn State proves that.
After former FBI Director Louis Freeh released his report , the NCAA got into the fashionable “shitting on Penn State” and did it in a completely meaningless way. While Penn State may have received some of the harshest penalties in NCAA history, they were ultimately without real teeth. If you doubt that, let’s break them down:
- A 4-year bowl ban: Normally that would hurt, but at the end of the 2011 season, this team could only qualify for a low-rent bowl where they got smoked by a Houston team whose coach was on his way to making Texas A&M the Belle of the SEC Newbies ball. Nobody saw the miracle incoming head coach Bill O’Brien pulled off; he literally made a team intended to be kicked off the B1G island and made it the second-best team in the conference.
- Loss of 20 scholarships: This does kill bench depth, but lets be honest…you can still win with only three punters on the depth chart. 65 scholarships is still plenty to field a winning team; NFL teams only have 53 roster spots. The only part that could sting is that Penn State can only sign 15 recruits per year rather than the usual 25.
- $60 Million Fine: Penn State has an endowment of nearly $2 billion and has an athletic department that generates cash in gorgon-like quantities. $60 million to them is the change you keep in your car’s cup holder for toll booths.
- Loss of shared conference bowl revenue for four years: This is estimated to be around $13 million per year. See above.
- Five years probation: That might as well be Dean Wormer’s “double secret probation” from “Animal House” since the NCAA really has no interest in handing out real punishments.
- Players were allowed to transfer without penalty: The team still won eight games.
- Vacating of all wins from 1998-2011: Record book hocus-pocus. This was only done to screw Joe Paterno, who was already dead by the time this move was made. Utterly pointless.
In other words, the NCAA didn’t do anything substantive after the Sandusky situation just like we won’t solve the problem after Sandy Hook.
The moral of the story: I can’t wait for NCAA President Mark Emmert to weigh in on gun control.
4) The Ongoing Tim Tebow Saga
Where do I start start with this? Here’s a guy who sold more jerseys than anybody before he even took a single NFL snap. Here’s a guy who stays in the headlines despite the fact he’s only taken 50 snaps this season as a New York Jet. Here’s a guy who everybody keeps saying isn’t an NFL quarterback, and yet right now we are talking about where is the next place he “isn’t” going to be an NFL quarterback.
The moral of the story: I’ll buy lunch for the first person who can explain Tebow-mania to me in 50 words or less.
3) The “Bounty-Gate” Debacle
Too bad NFL Commissioner Kommissar Goodell doesn’t have a paper towel good enough to clean up the mess he made.
Think about it for a moment. How many times have you seen a guy over-estimate his power, do something completely stupid because of that over-estimation, then need somebody to come in and clean up the mess. I guess former commissioner Paul Tagliabue is the one who had the big roll of paper towels.
To make a long story short, “Bountygate” blew up in Goodell’s face when he mistakenly assumed the players he suspended would simply roll over and take his brand of “justice.” But when Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Scott Fujita were reinstated by a three-members appeals panel. which included former NFL head Paul Tagliabue. The panel overturned a ruling that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was within his powers to suspend the players for their alleged roles in a pay-to-injure agreement.
What it all boils down to is that in the end, Goodell managed to emasculate himself, and required Tagliabue to get him out of the mess he made for himself. In other words, the commissioner did not have the final say; the former commissioner did. I don’t know of too many executive-level managers who stay employed after they need to be bailed out, especially when Tagliabue was only intended to review Goodell’s decision to impose suspensions on four New Orleans Saints players and instead found the action so flawed he had to vacate those suspensions.
The moral of the story: This is another reason people will look back at 2012 as the beginning of the downfall of the Kommissar Goodell regime.
2) Miguel Cabrera Becomes Baseball’s First Triple Crown Winner in 45 Years
Miguel Cabrera became the first player to win baseball’s Triple Crown since Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, and just the 15th player ever. This puts Cabrera on a list with baseball royalty which includes Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, and Lou Gehrig. Cabrera led the American League with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 RBIs.
The moral of the story: Dude can hit.
1) The Los Angeles Dodgers Are The First Sports Franchise to Sell For $2 Billion
The Los Angeles Dodgers were sold to a group that includes NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson for a final sale price of just over $2 billion. That represents the highest price any sports team has ever sold for — by a wide margin.
Television money for live sports is skyrocketing, and it’s driving up the values of sports teams not just in the United States, but around the world as well. People keep trying to tell me baseball is dead, and a baseball team just sold for a staggering amount of money. If one were to pay that $2 billion in cash, you would need sixteen standard shipping pallets stacked four feet square with $100 dollar bills. And the prices are only going up.
Want to buy a European soccer team? Soccer is the world’s most popular sport, so you’d better bring your wallet. Manchester United was the first team to break the the billion-dollar barrier, and that was a decade ago. Now, buying a top team in the English Premier League will easily cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.5 billion. If you still want a big-time European soccer club, but want to save your pennies, you might be able to get Real Madrid for just under $2 billion. Even the Jacksonville Jaguars, arguably the least-valuable franchise in the NFL, just sold recently for $770 million.
The moral of the story: Television money is exploding sports as we know it.
Editor’s Note: This article is a collaborative effort between Dubsism’s own J-Dub and Ryan Meehan from First Order Historians. Ryan also has his own blog, East End Philadelphia, which is featured in our BlogRoll and it is well worth the read.
The United States of America offers to the rest of the world a classic example of what happens when a nation abandons the principles for which it stands. At the beginning of the 20th Century, America was a country on the verge of becoming a world power; a power built on the freedom and prosperity a constitutional republic allows. It was the same 20th Century that saw the rise of America into the most dominant socio-economic and military force the world had ever seen.
We’ve totally fucked it up since then, and not just “kinda fucked it up.” We’ve fucked it up on a “Ron Jeremy on a Thermos full of Viagra in a Thai flesh pit” scale. Let’s be honest, anytime you’re reading “Thai flesh pit,” that usually means that there is something seriously wrong.
If you don’t believe that, look around. We’ve got a nation full of dumbasses who think the government exists solely for their benefit, and don’t realize that at some point somebody has to provide all the shit the government gives away. To make a long story short, the freedom provided by that constitutional republic has also allowed America to grow within its own ranks a group of people who believe that very same freedom is pernicious to a modern, progressive society.
This is now why the only difference between a “conservative” and a “liberal” is which set of self-serving interests they are out to protect; neither of then give a shit about you or the future of the country, but they both are running campaigns designed to get you to believe they do. The filthy-ass “Occupy Something Except A Job” scumbag who wants to wallet-rape anybody who make five bucks a year more than he does so we can expand social “get money for nothing” programs and your sweet, cookie making grandmother who still votes for Ronald Reagan and who will stab you in the face with a knitting needle if you even mention touching her Social Security check…they are both cut from the same cloth…and it’s diaper cloth covered in that nuclear-waste green baby shit.
This is why constitutional republics like America get the kind of government they deserve. Hence, it’s no surprise we have a Congress that was empowered by an electorate that chugged a bottle of NyQuil about 40 years ago and has been drooling on it’s pillow ever since.
The Democrats pretend they care about the little guy, and yet every solution to a problem they’ve devised involves getting into the middle class pocket somehow. The party has been hi-jacked by the new American left, which is largely why the Democrats haven’t had an original idea in 40 years, and they haven’t had a good idea in 60.
So, fuck them.
Meanwhile, while the Republicans have a better grasp on foreign policy and the economy, for some reason they love to act just like Democrats, and until recently, they’ve caved anytime they’ve taken the slightest criticism.
So, fuck them too.
Having said all that, here’s our rundown on all that you need to know on all these political blow-job hacks and the media that covers them.
Guest Column: Joe McGrath On Why the “Peyton Sweepstakes” Could Be “Catch-22″ or “Let’s Make A Deal”
Editor’s Note: Mr. McGrath has long and storied history in the management of professional sports franchises, most notably as the general manager of the Charlestown Chiefs of the now-defunct Federal League. Oh, and this is probably a good time to mention that Mr. McGrath’s views are his own, and do not necessarily reflect those of Dubsism, our staff, or anybody else whose house you might want to burn to the ground.
So, as I’m having coffee this morning, I’m watching this fiasco going on around Peyton Manning. The last time I wrote about this, I got into an argument over whether the Manning era should be over in Indianapolis. Well, I was right, Manning has moved on, and now it is time to watch this situation get really ridiculous.
All of a sudden, everybody thinks that the simple addition of a 36-year old quarterback who has had four neck surgeries can by his very presence turn a mediocre team into a Super Bowl winner. I’m here to tell you that is a great way to buy a “pig in a poke. “
I understand the excitement in fans who believe this stuff; this guy will put butts in the seats wherever he goes. But when you are in the general manager’s seat, you get a whole different view of this issue. Let me show you what I mean – there’s a whole lot of stuff you’ve got to think about if you want to buy a Manning Lottery ticket.
Right up front, he’s old. Discounting every other circumstance, he’s over what I call the “magic number.” Go look at the career statistics of any professional athlete and tell me how many of them didn’t decline after the age of 35. If you look at Manning’s career season-by-season, age 35 is going to be a clear “line in the sand” as to his performance, because no matter what, that’s the season he never even saw the field. Sure, he had a big year in 2010 statistically speaking, but even that wasn’t enough to hide the fact the Colts were not a complete team. I’ll come back to that point in a minute.
For right now, let’s look at the numbers he put up in 2010. Don’t forget, this happened in an offense that had been tailor-made for him, gave him coordinator-level control over the offense, and had been that way through an entire decade and two head coaches. No matter where he goes, that isn’t going to happen again. The best you can hope for is a reasonable facsimile built around different coaches (with different personalities), different players with different abilities, all around a quarterback who will undoubtedly be a different player physically. I’m just a kid who grew up playing hockey on a frozen pond in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. I wasn’t good at math, but even I know that’s too many variables to expect a constant result.
Think about it. Wherever Manning goes, either everybody has to buy in to doing things his way, which still introduces all the variables I just mentioned – or – Manning has to play the role of a 36-year old quarterback with a neck held together with duct tape and happy thoughts who gets to learn a new system, a system which will undoubtedly have different blocking schemes, which may mean he’s going to get pressure from spots he’s not used to.
Now, let’s come back to that “complete team” thing I mentioned. Manning by himself does not bring that a team. Teams that are complete now don’t need him, and the teams that want him won’t be complete even with him. It’s a football “Catch-22″ and some team is going to mortgage its future getting sucked into this. You would think people would have learned from the Brett Favre/Minnesota Vikings fiasco, but that clearly isn’t the case.
Don’t even try to tell me that wasn’t a complete failure. Sure, the first year they almost went to the Super Bowl and Favre had a great season, but it all fell apart after that, and that decision to bring in Favre doomed that franchise to at least five years of being terrible. Besides, the goal in Minnesota was “Super Bowl or Bust.” And they hit “bust.”
If you are the general manager in Kansas City, Denver, or Arizona, you are an 8-8/7-9 sort of team who can’t even begin to call themselves “complete” enough to say the simple addition of Manning means they are “Super Bowl” ready. Denver made the playoffs out of lousy division, had their miracle against the Steelers, then took their expected blowout loss to the conference champion Patriots. Manning by himself doesn’t close the gap between the Broncos and the Patriots. Arizona got left in the dust early on in the season, but there are so many people who got sucked in by their 5-1 finish and think that Manning makes them an instant playoff contender. Not even close. The only offensive weapon the Cardinals have that isn’t over-the-hill (Todd Heap) or constantly hurt (Beanie Wells) is Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals are the Los Angeles Clippers of the NFL; sure they might have an interesting young star now, but they are still owned by an idiot and that’s why they are a third-rate organization. Kansas City offers a whole other set of problems. Offensively, they are either over-the-hill (Thomas Jones and half the offensive line), over-rated (Dwayne Bowe and Jonathan Baldwin), never-will-be (Dexter McCluster and Steve Breaston) or going to spend the rest of their careers in between injuries (Jamaal Charles).
The point is that if you are the general manager of either of those three teams, Manning represents poison for you. To get him, you are going to expend resources you could use to solve other problems, and you are doing so for a big gamble. This is because there are only five possible outcomes, and four of them are potentially bad.
- You sign Manning, and he isn’t healthy – Team goes 4-12, you’ve tanked the future so the team sucks for five years and you get fired.
- You sign Manning, and he sucks – Team goes 4-12, you’ve tanked the future so the team sucks for five years and you get fired.
- You sign Manning, and he is effective – You may still get fired because like what happened in Minnesota, anything short of a Super Bowl win may still be considered a failure
- You don’t sign Manning, and he is effective elsewhere – You better hope you team doesn’t suck at the same time that happens, or not only do you get fired, you likely never get another job
- You don’t sign Manning, and he is ineffective elsewhere – Best case scenario, this is the only one that has no potential for you getting fired.
Then, there’s that whole issue of his health everybody is blowing right past. This is where you get the Monty Hall “Let’s Make A Deal Problem.” This is the one where you have $25 million dollars and the future of your quarterbacking situation in your hand, and Monty offers you the trade – the money and the future for a choice of what’s behind one of three doors.
- Door #1 – A healthy Manning who can still play
- Door #2 – A healthy Manning who can’t play anymore (don’t forget, he’s old)
- Door #3 – An unhealthy Manning who can’t play, but still cost you the money and the future
Frankly, I think its a bad bet. The best case is I get an aging Hall-of-Famer, and it costs me the ability to build for the future. The worst case, I get a multi-million dollar talking paper-weight. I’ve never liked desperation bets, and this surely smacks of one.
-Dubsism is a proud member of Sports Blog Movement
A Sports Blog Movement Exclusive: The Ex-Kicker’s Round Table on the NFL Draft – The “Manning” Effect
There have been some major changes to the NFL Draft/Free Agency world since the last time your favorite group of Ex-Kickers discussed these matters. The comments are flying over potential NFL trades and of course the free agency of Peyton Manning, but you have to get the full story at Sports Blog Movement. Check it out today!
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