In Greatest QB of All Time on February 17, 2012 at 6:14 am

I’d like to thank everyone for the feedback of our Greatest QB of All Time Preview article. A lot of votes came in for Otto Graham, Johnny Unites, Joe Montana, Dan Marino and Joe Namath. As we discussed in the preview article we selected 14 QB’s and performed a statistical analysis to try to determine who the Greatest Quarterback of All Time is. As we stated the passing craze that began in the 1970’s eliminated many great QB’s from earlier times when the ball wasn’t thrown every down. Greats like Johnny Unites, Bart Starr, Otto Graham, Norm Van Brocklin and others of that era just couldn’t compare statistically, which doesn’t take away from them in any way as all time greats of the game. We will do a second study that would include just QB’s prior to 1970.  We have selected the following as our Top 14 in alphabetical order:

  • Troy Aikman
  • Drew Brees
  • Terry Bradshaw
  • Tom Brady
  • John Elway
  • Brett Favre
  • Dan Fouts
  • Jim Kelly
  • Peyton Manning
  • Dan Marino
  • Joe Montana
  • Ben Roethlisberger
  • Roger Staubach
  • Steve Young

Each of these QB’s are either members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, won a Super Bowl or have won a Super Bowl and will be members of the Hall of Fame in the future.

We selected 8 regular season statistical categories that we felt would put all of the players on a level field without showing bias to a QB that played longer than the rest, Brett Favre, and holds many of the career QB records. What we did was break it down by how they performed in the categories by percentage across their career.

If a player did not play in at least half of his teams games in a season that seasons numbers were not included. For example, Tom Brady played in just 1 game in 2008 due to injury. Also, one of the hardest guys to include in this was Steve Young. There are several seasons in which Young missed games, mainly because he was backing up Joe Montana when he was in San Francisco but he also split time early in his career in Tampa Bay. With that said here are the 8 regular season categories:

  • Career Total Yards Produced versus Teams Total Yards %
  • Career Passing Yards/Game
  • Career Yards per Pass Attempt
  • Career Yards per Pass Completion
  • Career Pass Completion %
  • Career Pass Interception %
  • Career Pass TD’s  %
  • Career Game Winning Drives

Each QB was given 14 points if they finished 1st in the specific category 13 for 2nd, 12 for 3rd, down to 1 point if they finished last in the category. All 8 categories were added up and the QB with the most total points in the 8 categories becomes our Greatest Regular Season QB of All Time.

We will show you who finished 1-5 in each of the categories and we will show you how all 14 finished and what their total points were. You may want to match how the QB finished and who had Hall of Fame running backs in the same backfield.

Once we came up with those results we added 2 Playoff stats, Super Bowls played in and Super Bowls won.  We used these 2 categories since playoff stats are all over the board and impossible to compare based on numbers of games each played. Obviously doing this helps Tom Brady and John Elway, as it should since they’ve played in more Super Bowls than any other QB with 5 but also helps Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw who have won the most Super Bowls with 4. It also helps Jim Kelly with his 4 Super Bowl appearances even though he didn’t win. Making 4 Super Bowls is an amazing accomplishment. The guys it really hurts are Dan Fouts with no Super Bowl appearances and Dan Marino with 1. You will see how the addition of the Super Bowl stats changed the overall ranking.

Here are the results. See what you think and feel free to click “Respond” and say your piece. Did we miss anybody that should’ve been included? Did we include statistics that didn’t make it fair? Finally, did you like the results?

Career Total Yards Produced versus Teams Total Yards %

  1. Brett Favre
  2. Peyton Manning
  3. John Elway
  4. Tom Brady
  5. Drew Brees

Career Passing Yards/Game

  1. Peyton Manning
  2. Drew Brees
  3. Dan Marino
  4. Tom Brady
  5. Brett Favre

Career Yards per Pass Attempt

  1. Ben Roethlisberger
  2. Steve Young
  3. Dan Fouts
  4. Roger Staubach
  5. Peyton Manning

Career Yards per Pass Completion

  1. Terry Bradshaw
  2. Roger Staubach
  3. Dan Fouts
  4. Ben Roethlisberger
  5. John Elway

Career Pass Completions %

  1. Drew Brees
  2. Peyton Manning
  3. Steve Young
  4. Tom Brady
  5. Joe Montana

Career Pass Interception %

  1. Tom Brady
  2. Joe Montana
  3. Steve Young
  4. Drew Brees
  5. Peyton Manning

Career Pass TD’s %

  1. Tom Brady
  2. Steve Young
  3. Peyton Manning
  4. Terry Bradshaw
  5. Roger Staubach

Career Game Winning Drives

  1. Dan Marno
  2. John Elway
  3. Peyton Manning
  4. Brett Favre
  5. Tom Brady


1.     Peyton Manning – 88 points of 112 possible points

2.     Tom Brady – 84 points

3.     Drew Brees – 73 points

4.     Dan Marino – 68 points

5.     Ben Roethlisberger – 66 points

6.     Joe Montana – 65 points

7.     Steve Young – 64 points

8.     Brett Favre – 60 points

9.     Dan Fouts – 55 points

10.   John Elway – 54 points

11.    Jim Kelly – 48 points

12.   Roger Staubach – 48 points

13.   Terry Bradshaw – 40 points

14.   Troy Aikman – 30 points

The categories below were calculated like the rest. Due to my formatting they had to be listed in numerical order but the points were done the same way. For example on Super Bowl Wins both Bradshaw and Montana got 14 points and Brady, Aikman and Young got 12. This covers the ties.

Super Bowl Wins

  1. Terry Bradshaw – 4
  2. Joe Montana – 4
  3. Tom Brady – 3
  4. Troy Aikman – 3
  5. Steve Young – 3

Super Bowl Appearances

  1. John Elway – 5
  2. Tom Brady – 5
  3. Terry Bradshaw – 4
  4. Joe Montana – 4
  5. Jim Kelly – 4
  6. Roger Staubach – 4



1.     Tom Brady

2.     Peyton Manning

3.     Joe Montana

4.     Steve Young

5.     Ben Roethlisberger

6.     Drew Brees

7.     John Elway

8.     Dan Marino

9.     Brett Favre

10.   Roger Staubach

11.    Terry Bradshaw

12.   Jim Kelly

13.   Dan Fouts

14.   Troy Aikman

The results are in. As we stated we’re open for any and all comments and opinions. Thanks again for your interest in Philly Pressbox. Feel free to follow us on Facebook at Philly Pressbox as well.

  1. Bill: For the moment I will not question your sanity, veracity, or calculator.Those dispersions may be cast later.

    After a quick reveiw an two obvious problems appear.
    Greatest of all time has lost his last Two SB.
    Steve Young gets credit for two SB wins that he was the back up and did not play?

    More To follow

    • Like I said Steve young was the toughest guy to figure in this. As far as losing his last 2 SBs is it about getting there or winning all of the. Back to Kelly. Again. That’s why the seperation of regular season and adding super bowls. Interesting too is which of these guys had HOF RB’s.

      Sent from my iPhone

  2. Possible over site, Roger was on the roster for SB V, that should give him 5 trips and yes he would have been the back up.

  3. I am now on a crusade to have Aikman knocked off your the list. I am thinking Fran Tarkenton. I will have my stats man on this today.

  4. Great work . Hard to argue just shuffle the list.

  5. If all 14 are in the same draft who would you take first?

    If all 14 are 5th year free agents in the same year who would you take?

    • Are we supposed to take these questions as arguement of the results? The only thing you’ve established is Aikman should be banned from this list. We already knew it was Emmitt and the O-Line with Moose that were that team.

      Sent from my iPhone

  6. I would take Elway number one over all.

    Five years in he had taken a mediocre team with no Saturday Finalist to HOF to two SB.
    No Qb on the list made 3 SB with equal or less talent.
    After the age of 35 he wins 2 SB with a very good TE and RB.
    For an entire career Elway was one of the top three QBs in the game year in and year out.
    To have #4,5&6 ahead of him is a statistical anomaly. None had his longevity, SB appearances nor wins as a starter in SBs.

    Your top three season QBs are all still playing. I have to question how that can happen.Football stats are difficult to compare player to player, decade to decade.

    Would you list Bonds, Sosa and McGuire as three greatest HR hitters?

    My view is something must have changed fundamentally to allow all these QBs that are currently playing to so dominate the list of the greatest QBs of all time.

    Bill you put forward a great deal of time and effort putting this together great job.

    • Dave,
      I can’t buy your Elway theory. He was never my favorite but that’s why we have opinions. I have 2 reasons why I think things finished the way they did if we just look at the regular season and start at the bottom. Aikman – Emmitt, Bradshaw – Franco, Staubach – Duane Thomas, Calvin Hill and Tony Dorsett, Kelly – Thurman Thomas, Elway – Terrell Davis. A load of Hall of Famers. Favre – Ahmad Green – No HOF, Young & Montana – Roger Craig, James Wilder – No HOF, Roethlisberger – No one, Marino, Brees, Brady – No one, Manning – Edgerin James for a while. Good player probably not HOF. Thus carryig th teams with passing. The 2nd and most important thing is the West Coast Offense. A lot of dinking and dunking, screens, flares and safe passes. Overall percentages are up, risk factor is down. The last of the “gunslingers” were Marino, Elway, Kelly, Fouts. With that said, hiugher risk passers, with higher incompletion and interception %. To me that’s the statistical onomoly you’re looking for.

      Thoughts on that??

  7. Since it is Sunday and tomorrows a Federal holiday my stat guy is unavailable. Now I am force to come up with my own facts. A quick look at SB winners from 2000 until 2012 the wining SB QB was also in the top three QB for passing Yards 60% of the time.

    I fully agree any team with a quality running game will make the QB look better and can win SBs.

    This west coast offense , is not so easy to recognize. It was easy when the 49’s of Walsh ran it but who runs it now?
    Green Bay with Farve
    Green Bay with Rodgers
    New England
    certainly not Norve Turner, Mike Martz,
    Broncos with Elway under Shanahan?

    Or should a third reason be explored changes in the rules for hitting the QB, all the limits placed on the dbs?

    Still hard to get behind the final order even with the facts in front of me.

    • Definetly the rule changes against the DB’s has played a big part in it. Receivers have also gotten bigger, stronger, faster. As far as Favre I think under Holgrem he was in the West Coast Offense. Agree not Turner or Martz. Don’t you hate Federal Holidays and you have to crunch the numbers yourself?? My potential sponsor must be off for the weekend as well.

  8. Thanks , I’ve just been looking for info approximately this subject for a long time and youirs
    is the best I’ve foun out so far. However, what in regards to the bottom line?

    Are yoou certain about thhe source?

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