Top 10: Ranking the Best Quarterbacks of All Time

Top 10: Ranking the Best Quarterbacks of All Time

Football is a game of strategy, skill, and raw talent. But, at its core, it’s a game of individuals – people who, through their actions on and off the field, shape the outcomes of games and, ultimately, the trajectory of the sport. Among these individuals, no position holds more significance or scrutiny than the quarterback. They’re the field generals, the play- callers, the ones with their hands on the ball for every offensive play. And when we talk about the best quarterbacks of all time, we're discussing players who have not only mastered this critical role but also transcended it.


It doesn’t matter if you’re a casual fan or a die-hard fanatic; the discussion of who ranks among the best quarterbacks of all time is a perennial topic of debate. It’s a conversation that spans eras, incorporates statistics, titles, individual accolades, and intangible factors like leadership and impact on the game.

In this blog post, we're going to delve into this discussion, providing a brief history of NFL quarterbacks, before taking a deep dive into our list of the top 10 quarterbacks of all time. We'll also consider what factors contribute to a quarterback's greatness and how the evolution of quarterback rankings has changed over time.

A Brief History of NFL Quarterbacks

NFL quarterbacks have come a long way since the early days of the sport. In the pioneering days, the NFL was more run-focused, and quarterbacks were often just another running back with the added responsibility of throwing the ball occasionally. As the game evolved, so did the quarterback position.

The 1960s and 1970s saw the rise of quarterbacks like Johnny Unitas and Terry Bradshaw, who brought a new level of passing prowess to the game. They set the stage for the future of the position, showing that a powerful and accurate arm could be just as valuable, if not more so, than a good set of legs.

In the modern era, the quarterback has become the most important player on the field. They're no longer just the player who throws the ball; they're the leader of the offense, responsible for reading defenses, changing plays at the line of scrimmage, and making split-second decisions that can alter the outcome of the game.

Top 10 NFL Quarterbacks of All Time: A Rundown

The list of the top 10 quarterbacks of all time is subjective and dependent on many factors. However, here is a rundown of some of the names that frequently appear in such lists.

  1. Joe Montana: Known for his poise under pressure, Montana led the San Francisco 49ers to four Super Bowl victories and was named Super Bowl MVP three times.
  2. Tom Brady: With multiple Super Bowl wins under his belt and numerous records, Brady is a dominant force in the modern era.
  3. Peyton Manning: Manning’s intelligence and ability to read defenses made him one of the most successful quarterbacks in NFL history.
  4. Brett Favre: Favre’s toughness and passion for the game earned him a spot among the greats.
  5. Dan Marino: Despite never winning a Super Bowl, Marino's statistics and impact on the game cannot be overlooked.
  6. Johnny Unitas: A pioneer of the quarterback position, Unitas set numerous records in his time.
  7. Steve Young: Following in Montana's footsteps, Young carried on the 49ers' tradition of great quarterback play.
  8. John Elway: Elway’s athleticism and arm strength led the Broncos to two Super Bowl victories.
  9. Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers’ accuracy and arm talent have earned him a spot among the greats.
  10. Drew Brees: Brees' leadership and precision passing have marked him as one of the best.

In-depth look at the Top 10 Quarterbacks of All Time

Let us take an in-depth look at the top 10 quarterbacks of all time. Each one has unique skills, achievements, and contributions to the sport, which is why they have been selected.

Joe Montana, known as "Joe Cool," was renowned for his calm demeanor in high-pressure situations. Tom Brady, dubbed the "GOAT" (Greatest of All Time) by many, has had a career longevity that's as impressive as his record- breaking statistics. Peyton Manning, often referred to as "The Sheriff," was feared by defenses for his ability to read the field and adjust plays like no other. The list goes on, with each quarterback having a profound impact on the game.

Who is the Greatest Quarterback of All Time?

The question of who is the greatest quarterback of all time is a difficult one. Some would argue for Joe Montana and his flawless Super Bowl record. Others might champion Tom Brady for his longevity and record number of Super Bowl wins. Yet others might make a case for Peyton Manning and his unmatched football IQ.

But the truth is, the question of who is the greatest quarterback of all time doesn't have a definitive answer. It's a question that depends on personal preferences, biases, and the era in which one started watching football.

Factors That Contribute to a Quarterback's Greatness

Several factors contribute to a quarterback's greatness. Winning is certainly a big part of it. A quarterback who can lead his team to victories, especially in high-pressure situations like the playoffs and the Super Bowl, earns a place in the pantheon of greats.

But winning isn't everything. Statistics are also a significant factor. Quarterbacks who can rack up impressive numbers - whether it's passing yards, touchdowns, or completion percentage - demonstrate a level of skill and consistency that sets them apart.

Intangibles, too, play a crucial role. Leadership, toughness, the ability to perform under pressure - these are qualities that define the truly great quarterbacks. They may not show up in a box score, but they make a significant difference on the field.

The Evolution of Quarterback Rankings Over Time

As the game of football has evolved, so too has the criteria for evaluating quarterbacks. In the early days of the NFL, a quarterback's value was often judged by his running ability and toughness. But as the forward pass became more prevalent, the emphasis shifted to passing accuracy and arm strength.

Today, we consider a variety of factors when ranking quarterbacks. We look at their statistics, both in terms of volume (like passing yards and touchdowns) and efficiency (like completion percentage and passer rating). We consider their winning records, especially in the postseason. And we also account for their impact on the game - whether they revolutionized the position, influenced how the game is played, or left a lasting legacy for future generations.

In conclusion, ranking the best quarterbacks of all time is a complex task that draws on a wealth of factors. Some elements are concrete, like statistics and records; others are more subjective, like impact on the game and leadership qualities. But regardless of the criteria used, the discussion is always a fascinating one, filled with passionate debate and an appreciation for the skill, talent, and dedication of these remarkable athletes. The debate on who the best quarterbacks of all time are may never be settled, but it's a testament to the incredible talent that has graced the NFL over the years.

Author: Dan Anderson