Top 10 Quarterbacks In NFL History

By Raphael Haynes
December 21, 2012 12:20 am
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One of the greatest debates in sports will always be who is the best quarterback or who are your top ten all time quarterbacks.

It is almost guaranteed that each list will be different. What do you suppose to base this list off of? Well, there are a few options. Here is how I based my top ten.

Leadership: This is one quality that all quarterbacks should possess. You can't be considered great if you're just a game manager. That means the coach doesn't trust you or your team won't trust you. It's equivalent to babysitting your little brother, just making sure he doesn't tear up anything and that he eats. You're just in charge of not messing up.

Statistics: It's no way you can be elite if your numbers doesn't match up with the elite. There are exceptions to this rule factoring in that the old time players didn't have the set of rules that some of the latest QBs have now. For instance the cornerbacks could basically push, grab and hit you before the the ball was out of the QB hands back then. Now if you blow on them, you might draw a flag. Also they didn't protect the QB like they do  now.

This consist of Super Bowls, TDs, passer rating and so on.

Being Clutch: You have to at least have a little chilled water in your veins. Game winning drives, diving for a first down and making an unbelievable throw all have something to do with being clutch. Of course you have to come up big in the big games or biggest stage. If this isn't an asset of the quarterback then he won't make my list.

Relevance: Your relevance to NFL history is a must. There's no way you can be a great if you're not know for anything that separates you from any other quarterback. It can be your throwing motion as long as you're numbers and stats prove you belong. Also it's anyway that you've impacted the game. Anything that leaves a legacy!

This list might upset some folks, make you say I'm a genius or have you wondering what is my reasoning for making that decision.  Side note, you have to have at least seven years that you started. Aaron Rodgers will be on here soon.

This is all expected when you are MR.CONTROVERSY.

LET'S GO!!

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20 months ago
I like your list. I would flip flop Elway and Manning though for some reason. Also as much as I love Warren Moon thats my favorite player. I would put Jim Kelly in. 4 straight Super bowls is tough to doeven though he lost. Solid top 10 though.
20 months ago

Yeah this list was hard to put together. I was going to put Elway at three but Manning has prove this year how good he is and Brady standing in his way . Elway really didn't have competition in the the playoffs. I still feel you though! As for Moon, his numbers were crazy and he don't get the credit he deserves. Jim was about to go on there but It was just hard to put him on there. Plus he had Thurmal behind him with Andre Reed and a great defense. Still he was awesome.
20 months ago
I think Roger Stuabach was better than half the people on your list. Imagine the stat he put up with a shortened career because of his Navy service. And talk about being a leader, making comebacks, and being one of the first mobile QBS.
20 months ago

Joseph, I was going to put him on the list also. He was a heck of a quarterback! just didn't make the cut. you can have a legitimate case for several people that didn't make the list. Thanks for reading the article and commenting. I have a top Running Back list too in my profile, check that out and see if you agree. Thanks again.
20 months ago
Check out DOUG FLUTIE's stats!! He won the equivalent of the Super Bowl (Grey Cup) in Canada three times(?) I wouldn't mind having Doug as an honorable mention. Doug was a winner.
20 months ago

Paco, I hear you!! Doug got done wrong. How you lead a team into the playoffs and then you replace him with a QB who hadn't played all year to start the playoff game?
20 months ago
Brett Favre isn't even the greatest quarterback in Packers history. Bart Starr led the Packers to three NFL Championships (1961, 1962 and 1965) and victories in the first two Super Bowls. He may not have the laundry list of numbers that Favre has but the Packers don't win as much as they do without him.
20 months ago

Ok Tom I give you he led them to 3 championships, but it was like 6 competitve teams then but he was on my ballet though and Brett is the greatest QB in Packers history for now lol
20 months ago

Tom, Bart Starr WON 5 NFL TITLES: '61,'62,'65,'66,'67--THE ONLY 5 TIME CHAMPION IN NFL HISTORY--I DON'T SEE HOW THIS LIST DOES NOT INCLUDE STARR--HE BEAT UNITAS MORE TIMES THAN UNITAS CARED TO COUNT!
20 months ago

Shavager, you probably made the strongest point out of all the commenters. Again It was like 4 good teams back then. Unitas had 40,000 passing yards and could play today. Packers were a great ream with a great leader but just missed the cut. You need to check out my running backs list and see if you agree with that. Trust me the QB list was the hardest list I ever had to come up with.
20 months ago
Only one Qb played a game in per 79 era? Tarkenton? Starr? YA Tittle? Or was this just fantasy. I'll admit I never saw most play, but you did say in history. Or was this a fantasy article.
20 months ago

LOL Paul, I put their numbers against everybody and what their legacy is. Star almost made it, Tarkenton was close too but they both just missed. I had at least 25 I chose from and looked at their stats and evaluated their careers. It was hard to come up with this list but MR. CONTROVERSY the best possible list. Thanks for reading my article and look out for Top 10 power backs and top 10 strongest arm QBs
20 months ago
Terry Bradshaw with 4 Super Bowl wins should put him in front of Warren Moon. Bradshaw's stats are solid.
20 months ago

Greg, his statsaren't that good. 70.9 QB rating, 27,989 passing yards and 212 TDs. All of those would have been the lowest on the list. However he does have 4 rings but was that because of his team getting him there? I don't know but MR. CONTROVERSY thinks not.
20 months ago
I'm bias.. The QB's of this generation are so spoiled and pampered.. Elway, Young, Marino took BEATINGS and MAWLINGS. These young bucs wouldn't last a day against the 85 Bears D like Marino did to break perfection. And I agree with James... Keep Warren, but Jim deserves to be on that list... and what about Bradshaw, .... I hate to discredit the younger ones but still..... I'm not sure if they deserve to be over the beast of past ball
20 months ago

Look at Bradshaw stats! He said himself he doesn't deserve to be considered a great. He performed at the biggest stage but he has a 70.9 rating. Kelly came close he is an honorable mention. Brady has been to 5 Super Bowls and his stats validate it too.
20 months ago
As much as I hate Dallas... a Dallas QB deserves an honorable mention like STaubach or Aikman. Aikman states don't even stack up against Bledsoes but he was a winner. And Marino being so low on the list... is this because he has no ring?? And young #10? I still say drop the qb's lower who benefit from the refs in their back pocket and cb's who cover with their hands tied.....
20 months ago

Aikman stats are ok and not because he is sorry but of course Emmitt. Staubach just missed the cut. It was hard not to put him in there. But thats why they call me MR. CONTROVERSY!!
20 months ago
I'm not going to balk, this was a hard list to put together. I echo someone else in saying Roger Dodger is on my Top Ten list. Remembering Brett for his competitiveness and toughness at a position where quarterbacks go down like paper cutouts was a great choice. Ditto Johnny U for defining his era.....his record for consecutive games with a TD was done over a longer period in a different era. And ultil Manning's and Brady's career is over, Joe Montana is the gold standard.
20 months ago

Appreciate it Slarty. This was a very hard list together. I really had to do my homework but some great players got left out. Thanks
20 months ago
Otto Graham and Bradshaw have to be on the list. Those teams don't win without them. Warren Moon never scared me like Bradshaw did. Farve folded so many times in big games, he'd be lower for me. Great arm but bad judgement
20 months ago

Otto Graham is nice but not Top ten, Bradshaw numbers are horrible. Again he even said that he don't belong in the Hall of Fame. I put his stats up on an earlier reply and you will understand! Thanks for reading my article
20 months ago
Raphael-very interesting and thought provoking article. I still think the list that Kerry Byrne (CHFF) put together back in '08 is more accurate. He gave a more detailed amount of facts, stats, and analysis for each of his 10 picks, and as he says-who would you change and WHY, and you better have a good amount of good info. for your choice. He has it Starr, Montana, Baugh, Graham, Brady, Unitas, Staubach, Young, P. Manning, and Favre. To see his analysis you can google The Definitive List: Top 10 NFL QB's.
20 months ago

Based on the info. you give for Elway, Marino, Brees, and Moon I think you would have trouble convincing him-he considered all but Brees back in '08.
20 months ago

I guess it all depends on what he based his list on, I believe every QB on my list could play in any era, but some of his QBs couldn't play today! Thanks for reading my article and go to my profile to see my running backs list. I love to get your opinion on that.
20 months ago

Cool I might have to take a look. Why not Starr, it was like 4 teams he had to compete against, the others weren't good. Graham not top TEN maybe a great but not top ten. Staubach almost made it he just didn't quite get in. MR. CONTROVERSY is probably given that name for this reason.
20 months ago
Raphael-here is my personal opinion-I think there should be a minimum requirement for a QB to be considered of having played good enough to have helped his team win at least 1 League Championship. That win would represent what every QB sets as a goal when he enters the NFL. If he can't accomplish that goal, then he doesn;t deserve to be considered Top 10 of All-Time, IMO. In other words, make him play his way onto that exclusive list.
20 months ago

One other personal opinion-I don't think we should ever assume that a team is so good that they will win it all no matter how bad their QB plays in the PO's. You can't take anything away from Bradshaw just because of his team. Yes, he played bad enough to help them lose in '76 in spite of having the No.1 D in Least points Allowed, but he also played very good in a majority of his 8 Champ. games, unlike my guy (Marino) who also played bad enough to help our team lose twice in the Po's in spite of having a No.1 D in least Points Allowed (in '83 and '98) and only played very good in 1 of 4 Champ. games. Quite a difference.
20 months ago

I agree but the two who doesn't have a Championship didn't have Championship teams but have Championship stats. Warren Moon jumped out to a 31-3 lead but its not his fault they lost. Marino never had one chance and he blew it to a top player on my list. You can't leave Marino off this list but again, I do feel you. I just think these two players should be an exception .
20 months ago

I agree but the two guys I have on here didn't have championship teams, but they had championship stats. Warren Moon had a 35-3 lead but it wasn't his fault they lost the lead. Marino did blow his chance against the top player on my list but he never had a running back or championship defense. Both of them had great stats which they should be an exception. We look at championships as making you the best at your position but sometimes thats not good enough because your team carried you. If Dilfer would have stayed with Baltimore he would have had two or maybe three rings but would he deserve to be on this list?
20 months ago

That wasn't even a champ. game for Moon. As for Marino, don't sell our teams short. Football is the ultimate TEAM game, and yes, we had some mediocre defenses, but those teams also had some very good offenses. Dan's '83 team had a D that was NO.1 in Least Points Allowed, our running backs ran for 2,150 yds., and we added Duper as an Pro Bowl receiver. Our '84 team had all but 2,000 yds. rushing and so did our '85 team ( I hope you remember what we did to that '85 Bears team). That could have been 3 champs. in a row if Dan could have performed better.
20 months ago

As for Trent Dilfer-having a D that is No.1 in Least Points Allowed should help that QB to play better in the PO's. So let's see how Dilfer played in comparison to Marino when Dan had the No.1 D in Least Points Allowed. Dilfer had 3 TD's and 1 INT., an avg. Passer Rating of 85.2, and he led his 4-0 team's Offense to an avg. of 17 p.p.g. Marino had 3 TD's also but 5 INT's, an avg. Passer Rating of only 76.0, and he led his O to an avg. of only 16 p.p.g. and they went 1-2 in those 2 years. Advantage Dilfer. Also, according to Pro-Football-Ref., Dilfer added more VALUE to his teams in the PO's than Marino did. Advantage Dilfer in the PO's.
20 months ago

and you're proving my point, again so do you think Dilfer should be on this list? Sometimes Championships hide the play of certain players. 3 TDs in 4 playoff games! But you can't hide the fact that Marino is a Hall of Famer and his stats are ridiculous. It's a team sport like you said so they need a help everyone of them. Just stats alone Marino deserves to be on this list. Again look at my running backs list on my profile. I'm curious of what you will think. I want your opinion if thats cool.
20 months ago

As for Moon, that was their best chance. Thats my point, you can't blame Moon! I forgot you were a Dolphin fan so I won't argue with you with that lol
20 months ago
8 out of 10 is ok, but seriosly Moon. OMG, not even top 20. Brees is not in the top 10 yet. 10. Bart Starr- he may fall out of top 10 in the next couple years or so, but 5 championships, 10-1 in playoffs, over 100 QB rating in playoffs and MVP of 1st 2 Superbowls.
9. Roger Stauback. Compare this to Brees. 4 Superbowls, 2 Championships. In an 11 year career, led the league in passing 4 times and retired with the highest passer rating of all time[1979]
8. Dan Marino
7. Steve Young- You have him at 10, behind Brees. The only Qb in the Superbowl era to lead the league in passing 6 times. Mvp 2X's - Brees is 0 in MVP's
6. John Elway- he is at 6 because during his peak was terrible in the 3 Superbowls he played. He was al-pro only 3x's, compared to Marino 8x's, Young 6x's, Farve 6x's. He won his 2 Superbowls when he no longer was the MVP of his own team.
5. Bret Farve
3B Tom Brady- 5 Superbowls-Won 3. 3x all-pro-2x MVP. Played for the best coach of his era. Even when he was hurt they went 11-5
3a Peyton Manning-2 Superbowls, won 1. 8x all-pro. only 4x MVP. When he was injured his team went 2-14, not 11-5. Probably wins 5th MVP this year and definitely record 9th all-pro selection
2 Johnny Unitas- He is very close to #1. 7x all-pro- Won 3 World Championships. Lost 1. Had every record by miles when he retired and is the only old time QB that would be a superstar today.
1 Joe Montana- Although Manning or Brady or both may pass him upwhen they are through.
20 months ago

robby, Moon stats are crazy, never had a championship team. Starr is good not top ten. Young had all star team and got to Super Bowl once. Brees has less talent but make them look very good. John Elway wasn't terrible in Super Bowls, he never had help. His defense never showed up. He has been to 5 Super Bowls. The reason I have Brady over Manning because he has three and been to 5. Also he put his team in position to win the two he lost it's just Eli Manning had two late game winning drives with essentially no time left. Peyton only been to two and Brady kept him from three. Unitas was a tough one. I battled with that selection. He had over 40,000 yards in that era. That is crazy!! Crazy!!! nut MR. CONTROVERSY sticks with his picks. You had a nice list though! Thanks for reading my article.
20 months ago

Raphael-the above posts reminded me of something-the MOST EXCLUSIVE list that a QB in the NFL can be part of is this: who played good enough to help their Team get to multiple S.B.'s, and then played good enough to be named MVP of the S.B. game. That is the absolute best thing that a QB can accomplish for his teammates, fans, and owners. In fact, that would be NO. 1 on my MISSION STATEMENT for OUR STARTING QB. Who is on this list-only 5 guys-Starr, Bradshaw, Montana, Brady, and E. Manning. Those 5 PLAYED their way onto your list, IMO. The other 5 we have to guess at-the best of the rest. For me it would be P. Manning, Unitas, Elway, Favre, and Brees.
20 months ago

I give you that and 7 of my list you just named. But again to me just Super Bowls don't put you on Top QB list because it is a team sport. If Moon had a team like Bradshaw or Marino could play on a team like the 89 49ers. Starr was great when it counted. I know we talking about QBs but should Barry Sanders get over looked because he didn't have a Super Bowl? Another Sport like Basketball gets judged by rings. Football, not just rings can get you to Hall of Fame or being called the best because it's so much you can do to get you there. Looking at Bradshaw numbers, different team he wouldn't be near called a Hall of Famer. He had Swann who made spectacular catches to make him look good. You have to look at not just QBs who has Super Bowls but QBs who never got there because of their teams.
20 months ago

My criteria for judging running backs is very different than for QB's, and I know by your list that the same holds true for you. My mission statement would also be very different for my running backs. As for Moon and Marino, they failed to be able to play good enough to help their teams win more than 1 champ. between them, while Bradshaw was able to accomplish that 8 times. That's mind boggling-for 1 guy to be able to accomplish that much.
20 months ago

you say one guy but its a team effort and some of those Championship games, he didn't play well at all but his team came through. MY point is Moon didn't get a chance to get there, not because of him, his stats prove he was more than bale to get there but because of his team. Denver beat Houston I think in 91 and Elway came back to beat them in the playoffs in the last minute. Moon shouldn't take the blame for that. He put them in position to win the game. Do you honestly believe that Marino shouldn't be in top ten list?
20 months ago

I was comparing 1 guys accomplishments to 2 guys accomplishments-so yeah, 1 guy. The TEAM aspect we all know and acknowledge, but must we say it every time-obviously no QB could accomplish anything without the rest of his TEAM helping out-we all know that. Would Marino have ever set any records at all without the help of his teammates ? Obviously not! He made them all better, just like Bradshaw did. Here's the difference-Terry also made his teammates better in the PO's because HE played better in the PO's and got it done in 75% of his champ. games. Marino played very good in 25% of his champ. games. Now you tell me-does that warrant Top 10 of All-Time??
20 months ago

I forgot to mention 1 other thing-couple the above last fact with this one-Dan was never able to play good enough to reach the Pinnacle of His Profession-he never got to the Top of the Mountain for an NFL QB. Does that warrant Top 10 status? Not in my mind. Again, keep in mind that it was mostly due to the way he played that led to his negative PO success.
20 months ago

Are you aware of 1 of the few NFL Records that Dan still holds- the most PO games with 2 or more INT's. Dan had 10 (of his 17) PO games end with at least 2 INT's, and worst of all-3 of them were champ. games. Why does this matter-there was a study done that shows that when a QB throws 1 INT. in a PO game his team still has a chance of winning that game of over 50%, but if he throws 2 INT's, then his teams chances of winning goes down to 31%.
20 months ago

Raphael-here is what it boils down to IMO-would you rather have your favorite QB be just good enough in the Reg. season to help your favorite Team get into the PO's, but then he turns into a great QB and plays good enough to help[ them win multiple championships? Or do you want your QB to be a record setting very good QB in the Reg. season, and then mostly bomb out and not lead your favorite Team to very much success at all in the PO's? That is basically what we have to choose from when comparing Bradshaw to Marino. It's now 2012, and I would gladly have taken Bradshaw's PO success over Marino's Reg. season success.
20 months ago

This is it I promise you but-there is 1 other exclusive list you should consider: Reg. season MVP's who were also S.B. MVP's in the same NFL Year, and there are only 3 who are also on the other list of multiple S.B. MVP's, and they are: Starr, Bradshaw, and Montana. Those 3 DEFINITELY PLAYED THEIR WAY onto your list, IMO. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!
20 months ago

Bob, first off, you my dude and I love these debates. Ok I would take Bradshaw PO success. But who would you start a franchise with, Bradshaw or Marino? Stats: 1974 SB: 96 yards passing 1TD 0 picks; 1975 SB: 209 yards, 2TDs O picks; 1978 SB: 318 yards 4 TDs 1 pick; 1979 SB: 270 yards, 2TDS 3 picks. Overall playoff stats: 201 .1 passing yards 30 TDs and 26 picks. Do that sound like Top Ten or product of a great team. Only two Super Bowl wins I give him where he was significant in. Stats don't lie!
20 months ago

LOL great stat never knew that.
20 months ago

Remember when your team give up 44 point then their defense is already plying dime defense because they know you are going to keep throwing. 44-34 1990 Divisional game.
20 months ago

Are you aware of how Kelly outplayed Marino in all 3 of the PO games between the 2 guys ('90, '92, and '95) ? In that '90 game, we (the Dolphins) had the HIGHER Ranked Defense, but that didn't matter to Kelly. He had the No.1 Ranked Offense that year, and he had the K-gun running smoothly.
20 months ago

Is that Marino's fault or is it the defense fault! I give you this, though Kelly destroyed the Dolphins in all three PO games. Kelly almost made the list!
20 months ago

That was Marino's fault and here is why: Dan was facing the Lower Ranked Defense, so it was up to him to lead our offense to more points. He failed to do that in this game. Kelly was facing the Higher Ranked Defense but helped his offense score enough points to win the game-that's what the better QB's do a majority of the time.
20 months ago

I feel you but all of that better ranked and stuff don't matter in the playoffs but you have a great point. I just thin Buffalo was the better team because they went 4 times in a row with basically the same team.
20 months ago
I don't place much on this list since it disregards Bart Starr--MVP of first two Super Bowls and 5 TIME NFL CHAMPION WITH PACKERS--THE ONLY 5 TIME CHAMPION IN NFL HISTORY! 4 time Pro-Bowl, '66 NFL MVP, NFL Hall of Fame, '66 & '67 SB MVP, 9-1 in post season play just missing a 6th NFL title in '60 against Eagles when time ran out with Packers on Eagles goal line. He holds the 2nd BEST playoff passer rating behind ONLY Aaron Rodgers.
20 months ago

You have a good point Shavager but remember, MR. CONTROVERSY chooses wisely. I'm not saying he is not a great but it was like 4 good teams back then and he went against the AFL who was way behind the NFL. Honestly he almost made the list. My question is could he play in any Era, and all of the QBs on the list could.
9 months ago
Someone Convince me,that Jim Kelly should NOT be in the Top 10 of NFL Quarterbacks?
9 months ago
No quarterback has E V E R led their team to the SUPERBOWL FOUR (4) years in a ROW. You can ALL argue that your favorite QB did better in the S-Bowl, Even won the thing, B U T JIM KELLY did what you ALL dreamed of, or wish for your team, FOUR YEARS IN A ROW,PERIOD. I will listen to ANY and ALL arguments about who is BEST,and I am NOT saying he was THE BEST, but C'Mon Four years in a row. Even if you were NOT a BUFFALO BILLS FAN, You THOUGHT J-K was the BEST and that your team would meet the B-BILLS in the Season, and you probably knew that your team would be beaten by the BILLS (PERIOD). I believe that EVERYTHING I have written is true. Bring your arguments,PLEASE.

PS. If you were not a B-BILLS fan you probably thought that those four years did not REALLY HAPPEN....HA HA.
9 months ago

Ok Peter, I accept. lol. I hear your argument but you would understand why he is not there if you read the beginning of the article. Now what kept him off the list was his stats and he wasn't that much of a clutch QB. Yeah he brought Buffalo back in that Super Bowl last drive and it was the kicker fault but most of the time he was always in the lead. His stats compared to the rest of the guys made him just missed the list.
7 weeks ago
No Bart Starr? Really?
41 hours ago
Payton Manning, Tom Brady and Joe Montana. Understandable, but debatable. I would have chosen Dan Marino and John Elway as number two and number one, respectively. Then Manning, Brady, Montana.

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