The top 10 NFL Quarterbacks of all time/Referendum on Tom Brady


I was poking around the Internet yesterday (Saturday) and came across an interesting article over at Cold Hard Football Facts, claiming to be the definitive top-10 list of quarterbacks all time.  It seems like a piece that will certainly open up debate and is nice and divisive for an overcast Sunday here in San Francisco.  I haven't read much of Cold Hard Football Facts, but it seems like a stat driven site in the ilk of Football Outsiders, just not as stat-intense.  If anybody else is a more frequent visitor of CHFF, please do tell us what it's all about.  According to their site they're:

The Cold, Hard Football Facts are an omniscient, all-powerful gridiron guru and emotionless arbiter of all things pigskin. We planted our flag on Planet Pigskin in September 2004 and since then have rumbled over hacks, "pundits" and opinions with reckless, unrelenting and fact-filled impunity in our M1A1 Abrams Tank of Truth.

Yea that makes a whole hell of a lot of sense.  Anyways, I thought this was good timing considering our discussion of Steve Young and Joe Montana earlier in the week.  Their top 10 list of quarterbacks is as follows:

  1. Bart Starr
  2. Joe Montana
  3. Sammy Baugh
  4. Otto Graham
  5. Tom Brady
  6. Johnny Unitas
  7. Roger Staubach
  8. Steve Young
  9. Peyton Manning
  10. Brett Favre
According to CHFF, the measurements of greatness include:
...statistical production (in the context of their era), intangibles such as leadership, impact on a team's fortunes and, of course, championships. As we've long noted, passers who play well in the postseason win games. Passers who do not play well in the postseason lose games. So, championships, particularly multiple championships, are often a pretty solid indicator of a quarterback who consistently played well in big games.

Their last group of quarterbacks just off the list included Dan Marino, Sid Luckman, Norm Van Brocklin, Terry Bradshaw, Sonny Jurgensen, Y.A. Tittle and John Elway.

I was born in 1979 so I never got a chance to see Staubach, Unitas, Graham, Baugh, or Starr play.  I'd love to hear the thoughts of some of the older readers of Niners Nation who got to see them.  Or maybe you're a younger fan, enjoy the older players and have some footage of them.  It's certainly nice to see Young and Montana included.  It helps that they won titles and put up solid statistics and have biases in their favor (good and bad).  

However, with the Super Bowl approaching, I think part of this column starts (or continues for those who prefer) the referendum on where Tom Brady falls in the long list of all-time greats.  He's got 3 championships in hand, with a fourth one very likely.  He'll be 31 entering next season and is showing no signs of slowing down.  If he wins a Super Bowl this season he'll equal Montana for total rings and has a good chance of passing him before his career is over.  Statisically, he's 7,100 yards away from the top 20 all time in passing yards.  He's 17 passing TDs from the top 20 and approximately 450 completions away from the top 20.

So the question is, where do you think Tom Brady finishes his career in terms of perception on the all-time QB list?  While he is surrounded by phenomenal talent this year, he's managed to win his first three Super Bowls with a less than stellar surrounding cast at times.  The teams obviously aren't garbage, but they're definitely not the 49ers teams of the 80s and 90s.  While football is the ultimate team sport, guys like Brady and Montana are/were able to make things happen on the field that you just don't see from many other quarterbacks.  If Brady continues to perform at such a high level, I would find it very hard to not put him at the top of the list for all-time great quarterbacks.  People are already discussing him as one of the all-time greats.  However, when it's all said and done, it's possible there will not even be an argument.

Barring any breaking news, I'm going to leave this as the top thread into Monday so people see it and get a chance to comment.

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