Sunday, April 26, 2009

Top 10 NFL Quarterbacks by Urban

*Posted July 31, 2008*

Professional football is finally around the corner, and the focus should be on the ways all 32 teams are preparing for the season.Instead, ass-hole Brett Favre is still the center of attention.I thought it would be fitting to honor some of the NFL’s best players in this week’s top ten list.Don’t worry, Favre is not number one.

10.Fran Tarkenton (1961-1978), Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants

The name Fran Tarkenton generally does not come up when there is debate about this topic.The biggest knock against him was his performance in big games, 0-3 in the Super Bowl.But if you look beyond that, you can see that he did win more playoff games that Dan Marino and his 3 Super Bowl opponents were the Dolphins, Steelers, and Raiders, all 3 dynasty type teams of the 70s.Individually, Tarkenton was ahead of his time as a quarterback.He led the NFL in all career passing categories until Marino came around and is often considered to be the first great scrambling quarterback.No matter how many Super Bowl wins, it is tough to argue with the stats and results that Tarkenton put upthroughout his career.Arguably the second best quarterback of the 70s and very deserving to be on this list.

9.Steve Young (1986-1999), TampaBay Buccaneers and San Francisco 49ers

The only left hander on the list.Young signed with the fledgling USFL after college, signed with TampaBay, and was eventually traded to San Francisco as Joe Montana’s backup.He would be forever in the shadow of Montana until his magical year of 1994.Montana was long gone, and Young garnered the MVP and a Super Bowl. He finally got the monkey off of his back, as he would famously say on the sidelines.With that said, it was only one Super Bowl for his career. The 49ers opponent that year were the Stan Humphries led San Diego Chargers, arguably the worst Super Bowl team in history.Were does Young stand? Did he succeed because of the great players around him or does he stand on his own as a great quarterback? Probably somewhere in the middle. He is often considered one of the best scrambling quarterbacks in history and he leads all hall of farmers in career passer rating, but if you can pick one qb to win one game, I don’t see many people picking Steve Young.Young also suffered from some serious concussions later in his career, which is evidenced by his abysmal analysis on ESPN.

8.Peyton Manning (1998-present), Indianapolis Colts

Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf?Seems so simple now, Manning is on his way to the hall of fame and Ryan Leaf is considered to be the largest bust in history.The positives - as accurate as hell, excellent at reading defenses, and never gets hurt, well until now.The durability factor does lend itself to the fact that the Colts’ offense has short quick passes, in other words, Manning never gets sacked.The negatives - never runs and sometimes has trouble in big games.Even with that run a few years back, I still don’t think Manning has ever had it when the lights are bright.He never beat Florida in college and has struggled in the NFL playoffs.My long-lasting image of Manning will not be his Super Bowl but him calling out his offensive line after losing to the Steelers in the 2005 playoffs.Personally, I have never liked the guy, too many commercials and always says the right thing.One of the better passers of all-time, but never a guy I would trust in any type of meaningful game.

7.Brett Favre (1991-present), Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers

I think I have exhausted myself in talking about Brett Favre recently.In the mid nineties, he was the best player in the NFL.He had a rocket of an arm and could scramble away from pressure.The Packers were in two straight super bowls as heavy favorites, winning and losing one.As the Packers came back to Earth, so did Favre, interceptions began to rise and super bowls seemed like a distant memory.So every year Favre contemplated whether this would be it or not , and this happened, and happened year after year.Until, he finally did retire after last year, coming off the season ending loss to the Giants after throwing an int in the NFC Championship.Now he wants back.It is not fair to Aaron Rodgers, it is not fair to the Packers, and it is not fair to the NFL.Nobody is above the game.You were once a great quarterback, a future hall of famer, and on this list, but it is time for you to finally retire.Go away.

6.Terry Bradshaw (1970-1983), Pittsburgh Steelers

Two men have won 4 Super Bowls, Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw.Bradshaw does not get as much credit as he probably should.He was as fiery as Favre was and even called plays like Peyton Manning.In an era that shied away from passing, Bradshaw contributed to the hall of fame careers of 2 Steeler wide receivers.The 1970s Steelers is probably the greatest collection of football talent ever assembled on a field.They did make things easier for Bradshaw, but somebody also had to drive the bus.Bradshaw has had an estranged relationship with the Steelers.He had not been in Pittsburgh for roughly 20 years until he attended the funeral of Mike Webster.But Pittsburgh fans will always, unlike our Philadelphia counterparts, respect great talent throughout the ages.This was evidenced by Bradshaw’s warm reception he received when he attended a 2002 Monday Night Game in Pittsburgh.An interesting stat is that Bradshaw only had 7 career 300 yard passing games, 2 of those games were Super Bowls.Stats don’t mean everything, but Bradshaw did mean a lot to those Steelers.

5.Dan Marino (1983-1999), Miami Dolphins

It is so tough to rank Dan Marino.On one side he is probably the greatest pure tosser of all-time, the perfect combination of the smarts of Manning and the cannon of Favre.But then there is the other side, zero Super Bowls and only one appearance.Marino should fall, as he does, somewhere in the middle of this list.In 1983, Marino’s hometown Steelers were rumored to be searching for a replacement for Terry Bradshaw.But instead of drafting Marino, they settled for defensive tackle Gabe Rivera.The Steelers had a lackluster decade in the 80s and Miami, who drafted Dan, were continuously in the playoffs.The success of the Dolphins speaks to the greatness of Marino.They did not have the greatest defense, bad running backs, and marginal to good wide receivers.Marino was basically Miami.He was never a runner, only 87 rushing yards in his career, but he did break all of Fran Tarkenton’s career passing records.Favre has since surpassed Marino in many categories.Perhaps on a better team Marino would have 1-2 Super Bowls, he was certainly a great enough player to deserve them.

4.John Elway (1983-1998), Denver Broncos

I never really liked Elway.He seemed like a pure asshole, was drafted by the Baltimore Colts, but didn’t want to play there, a la Eli Manning and was eventually traded to Denver.The Broncos had some pretty good teams in the 80s but could never get over the hump.They resembled Tarkenton and the Vikings of the 70s.Denver finally did get over that hump when a great running back in Terrell Davis fell into their laps.In 1997, they beat Kordell and the Steelers in the AFC Championship and then upset Favre and the Packers in the Super Bowl. The following year they defeated Atlanta, a terrible Super Bowl team.Elway then retired, going out on top.Elway was a great athlete, he could run and scramble but his greatest asset was his arm.He was a baseball player also and was drafted by the Yankees.There is a rumor that he could kneel on the warning track at Yankee Stadium with his feet against the fence and throw a strike on the fly to a catcher behind homeplate.A great athlete compared to the pure pocket passer of Marino.His two Super Bowls put him slightly ahead of Dan.

3.Joe Montana (1979-1994), San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs

If you read the article I posted in my weekly column, then you would obviously associate cool with Joe Montana.So calm under pressure.Did not have the strong arm like Elway, the pinpoint accuracy of Marino, or even the escapability of Steve Young, but 4 Super Bowls later, did it really matter?Montana was calm like Brady before Brady.He had the Derek Jeter like capability to always win big games.If 10 guys were asked who they would pick to quarterback their team for one game, 8-9 would probably say Montana.Like Marino, Montana is from the Pittsburgh area.He was born New Eagle which is in WashingtonCounty and got drafted in the 3rd round out of Notre Dame.It is eerie how similar Brady is to Montana.Many qbs today, good quarterbacks, are similar to past greats.Montana has his Brady, Marino has his Manning, Aikman has his Palmer, and Elway has his Roethlisberger.Montana is tough to explain.He never had the physical tools, but he won and was a leader so easily.The goal of sports is to win, and Montana did that better than any other quarterback in history.

2.Tom Brady (2000-present), New England Patriots

As a Steelers fan, you learn to hate this man.Flair after flair for 5 yards, 6 yards, 3 yards, and then a ball fake that leaves Anthony Smith 20 yards behind wide receivers.As stated above, Tom Brady is the present day Joe Montana.Calm, cool, collected, a pure winner.I remember when he won his first Super Bowl, after videotaping, oh I mean upsetting the Steelers in the AFC Championship.After driving down the field to set up the game-winning field goal, John Madden said he got goose bumps by essentially watching Brady calmly and effortlessly throw the ball down the field.Brady was essentially a rookie.The reason I put Brady so high is look at his teammates.Montana had Rice, Taylor, Craig, Lott, etc.Brady had Antowain Smith, David Givens, and Hakim Akbar.Granted guys like Rodney Harrison and Randy Moss did come, but Brady was kind of winning those Super Bowls on his own.Easily the best quarterback today, sorry Peyton, and easily one of the greatest the game has ever seen.

1.Johnny Unitas (1956-1973), Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Colts, and San Diego Chargers

Why put him number one?He was a winner.One Super Bowl and 3 NFL Championships before the Super Bowl existed.He was calm and poised like Montana and Brady and had many physical attributes like the other top tenners.Had a strong arm like Elway and Favre, was accurate like Marino and Manning, could run and get himself out of trouble like a Steve Young or Fran Tarkenton, and he had those leadership qualities like a Terry Bradshaw.His rise to fame is a fascinating story.He was offered a football scholarship by Pitt but failed the entrance exam.Louisville would eventually take a chance on Unitas and he would have a successful college career.He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers but was eventually cut, he was the fourth qb on the depth chart in Pittsburgh and the Steelers only kept 3.The third qb was Ted Marchibroda who would eventually coach the Jim Harbaugh-led Colts of the 1990s.He worked construction in Pittsburgh until he tried out for the Baltimore Colts and the rest is history.Unitas’ victory over the New York Giants in the 1958 NFL Championship is often considered the greatest game in NFL history.His record of 47 straight games with at least one touchdown pass still stands today.After retiring, he became a strong opponent of Colt’s ownership after the team was moved from Baltimore to Indianapolis.Unitas never attended an “Indianapolis” Colts game and pitched hard for the NFL to return to Baltimore.Until his death, he was a big fan of the Baltimore Ravens.He did it the right way, the tough way, the winning way.

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