QB Market Showcases Today’s Best, But Who are the Game’s Best Ever?

Buck Turgidson, Jr.
Buck Turgidson, Jr.
Son of the famous General Buck Turgidson, our fearless editor strives for courageous reportage, concise language and an editorial policy falling somewhere between William Randolph Hearst's and Mussolini's.

In what some are calling the NFL’s best quarterback market in years, several big-name signal-callers will be changing teams before the start of the 2021 season. Along with possible castoffs and contract casualties like Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater, Jimmy Garoppolo, Dak Prescott and Jared Goff, several quarterbacks have either expressed dissatisfaction with their current teams, or out-and-out requested a trade. The Lions’ Matthew Stafford and the Texans’ Deshaun Watson are both high-production QBs who have asked for parole from their current employers. The Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, perhaps the most accomplished of any of them, has stopped short of an outright demand, but has dropped hints of his dissatisfaction with the status quo in Green Bay.

This bounty of available quarterbacks, while appealing to general managers as a group, still requires potential suitors to rank them in some sort of order of relative worth. If one is willing to give up multiple first round picks, perhaps a Watson or Rodgers is within reach. For the next tier of shoppers, a single first round pick might procure the likes of Stafford or Prescott. While all of these players are highly-regarded, one wonders where they might rank when compared to their peers throughout the long history of the NFL. Is Rodgers a Top Ten guy? Can Stafford, with a couple of deep playoff runs, use his admirable stats to gain entrance to such a hallowed list?

Let’s examine the greatest of all time, in no particular order, and see if they stack up to today’s stars. You may be surprised how lousy some of these guys were.

Joe Montana
In a long career with the 49ers, Montana won 5 Super Bowls, which upon his retirement were the most ever notched by a single player. He was also small and slow, and threw like a girl. Plus, he went to Notre Dame. Nothing makes a man out of a boy like time alone with a horny Jesuit.

Johnny Unitas
Johnny had a great flattop haircut, but how great can a guy be who eventually lost his job to a marginal journeyman from Michigan State? Unitas played in 1958’s “The Greatest Game Ever Played” against the Giants, but since there have been about 37 “greatest games ever played” in sports history, we’d say he has about 15,000 co-respondents.

Otto Graham
So, how many guys named Otto didn’t pilot Stuka dive bombers for the Luftwaffe during the rape of Warsaw in 1939? Graham is one of probably a half-dozen or so. Plus, lots of Nazis ended up in Cleveland after the war. Coincidence? ‘Nuff said.

Joe Namath
“Broadway Joe” supposedly revolutionized the game by wearing women’s underwear and a fur coat. He also had knees like jelly. Tough? Nah. Just fragile. And, we’re told that Bear Bryant had incriminating Polaroids of Joe in his college days.

Dan Marino
The tiny nation of San Marino has repeatedly litigated in civil court and pursued diplomatic solutions for the Dolphin QB’s apparent theft of its national identity. And, according to the steamy memoirs of Larry Csonka, the Dolphins routinely referred to the quarterback as “The Tiny Nation of Dan Marino” after catching revealing glimpses of him in full, post-shower glory in the Miami locker room.

Sammy Baugh
“Slingin’ Sammy” was probably the first modern-style passer in the NFL, which is amazing considering the ball was still made of a cow skull wrapped in burlap when he entered the league in 1937. In addition to his punting and defensive skills, he sold hot dogs and beer in the stands before the game, and swept the entire stadium afterward. He was also well-regarded for his ability to spit tobacco from either hash mark and accurately hit specific patrons in the stands. He retired to become Grand Wizard of the NFL White Alumni Association.

Terry Bradshaw
Leading the Steelers to four Super Bowl wins seems an especially amazing feat when considering Bradshaw underwent a radical lobotomy after a particularly gruesome head injury during his college career. Entirely unable to speak or fathom the intricacies of football, Bradshaw managed to succeed after Pittsburgh coach Chuck Noll devised a series of remotely-activated electric shocks and a positive reinforcement system of raw meat “treats” to coax performances out of the otherwise catatonic quarterback.

Warren Moon
Moon wasn’t really all that great, and played ball in the wasteland of the Canadian Football League, but since the NFL had written — if secret — rules that excluded most black guys from playing quarterback until about 2015, we thought we’d throw a brother a bone. We imagine some really bright fellers spent some serious time and thought deciding that African-Americans lacked the mental make-up to play quarterback in the pros, which still amazes anyone who has heard almost any white player attempt to communicate verbally. See “Bradshaw, Terry” above.

Y. A. Tittle
Why? Because he has a hilarious name. And played with Frank Gifford, who was a complete pain in the ass. Or the tittle, as it were.

Bart Starr
Replaced Pete Best on drums with the Beatles, moved to Green Bay, prosecuted Bill Clinton and was subsequently forgotten. Advocated for changing the Green Bay team name to the Fudgepackers.

Brett Favre
Can’t spell. Can’t pronounce his own name. Hunts reptiles out his truck. Like Otto Graham, ’nuff said.

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