Top Ten Quarterbacks of All Time

I’m a big football fan, as well as a shameless Monday morning quarterback.  So I thought I’d take a shot at listing my top 10 QB’s of all time. I’ve been around long enough to have watched some of the best quarterbacks perform over 4 decades. Because of my dad,  I grew up caring a lot about the history of football and the players who changed the game. His favorite QB was Johnny Unitas. My dad reveled in sharing stories about Johnny U and his legendary passes to wideout Raymond Berry. But I digress.

My list covers the top QB’s spanning several eras of football. In my view, these players represent the best of the best in statistical achievement as well as those who had the greatest winning percentages and Championship success. Stats don’t lie. This list relies heavily on stats. Winning is also an important measuring stick, but must be equally supported by stats, as well as an all too often neglected component, leadership.

I’ve linked each player to their respective “Pro-Football Reference” stats page. Pro-Football Reference is one of my favorite sites for everything football. It’s the most comprehensive and complete database for historical football statistics online. I think you’ll agree with many of my choices.

Michael (SIRIS)


#1 – Tom Brady (2000 – Present)

Tom Brady has more than proven that he’s the GOAT. At 43, he’s still going strong and making another run for the Super Bowl this year. Six Super Bowl rings is impressive. The only other QB with more total championship rings on this list is the legendary Bart Starr with seven. * (UPDATE) Since I first published this post, Tom Brady led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl Win. Chalk up one more for Brady. Seven impressive Super Bowl wins!!

#2 – Joe Montana (1979 – 1994)

Joe Cool is possibly my favorite QB on this list. I grew up watching Joe Montana slice up defenses with a precision passing attack to Jerry Rice and John Taylor. There was nothing more enjoyable than watching Montana take command of Bill Walsh’s “west coast” offense, back in the 80’s. He was always the coolest under pressure and has four rings to prove it.

#3 – Johnny Unitas (1956 – 1973)

What can you say about Johnny U that already hasn’t been said? Watching him move out of the pocket in his black high-tops while throwing high arching bombs to Raymond Berry was a site to behold. He was the first real mobile Quarterback of any era. Unitas redefined the position. He was the original prototype for everyone who followed him. His legend proceeds him. Three NFL Championships and one Super Bowl; four total rings cement his legacy.

#4 – Peyton Manning (1998 – 2015)

Currently, Peyton Manning holds several NFL QB records and has two Super Bowl rings to back up his greatness. He’s in the top four in passing yards, touchdowns, completions and attempts. The battles between Manning and Brady in the early 2000’s were an enjoyable ride for every football fan. He’s the only QB in history to win Super Bowls with two different teams, the Colts and the Broncos.  In that stellar Colts tradition, Johnny Unitas had Raymond Berry and Peyton Manning had Marvin Harrison. Manning to Harrison was quite possibly the greatest passing combo of all time. No one lit it up like these two. It was exciting to watch.

#5 – John Elway (1983 – 1998)

John Elway was a fighter. I always considered him the quintessential scrapper. He was a field general who did whatever it took to win. His two Super Bowl wins are indicative of that.  Elway was the oldest QB to win a Super bowl at 38 years old, until Tom Brady passed him two years ago.  Elway played in five Super Bowls. Early in his career he lost his first three opportunities to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Those early experiences only made him stronger. At the end of his career he went out on top, winning back to back Super Bowls in 1997 and 98. Elway was a consummate warrior on the field.  His statistics and achievements are perfectly suited to round off my top 5.

#6 – Bart Starr (1956 – 1971)

Bart Starr probably isn’t mentioned in most Top 10 lists, but he surely deserves to be in mine. He led the packers to seven Championships; five NFL championships and two Super Bowl rings. That’s a total of seven rings. That’s the most Championship rings of any QB in history. Let’s not forget, before the Super Bowl existed, there was an NFL championship worth noting.  Bart Starr was the leader of that storied Packers Dynasty under the tutelage of Vince Lombardi.  He’s the only QB to lead his team to 3 consecutive championships. He also still owns the highest postseason passer rating at 104.8 (minimum 150 pass attempts). He was the backbone of the Packers dynasty. His stats might not match up to the rest but his leadership and intangibles surely do. Bart Starr was a great Champion. Enough said.

#7 – Dan Marino (1983 – 1999)

Prior to retiring, Dan Marino owned every QB record in the record book. Many of his records have since been surpassed, but it took over one to two decades for these records to be matched. To say he had a throwing arm like a canon would not be hyperbole. Watching Marino to Mark Clayton and Mark Duper was one of the great highlights of watching football in the 1980’s. Dan Marino and the “Marks Brothers” as they were called, were a lethal trio and perennial playoff contenders. Marino’s only Super Bowl appearance was a loss to the high powered 49ers led by Joe Montana back in 1985. He’s the only QB on this list without a championship title.  But don’t let that fool you. Dan Marino was a great leader on and off the field.  He was arguably the best pure Quarterback of any era.

#8 – Roger Staubach (1969 – 1979)

Roger “The Dodger” Staubach led his Dallas Cowboys to the Super Bowl five times, four as the starting quarterback. Out of four Super Bowl starts, he won two times. He was named Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl VI.  No one worked harder than Roger.  He was a hard nosed, hard working warrior, on and off the field.  He was a decorated Navy officer who served in Vietnam. Originally drafted by the Cowboys in 1964, he still had to serve four years in the Navy before becoming eligible to play in the NFL. At 27 years old, he was finally eligible.  He didn’t get his first start until age 29.  Watching Roger play was like taking a glimpse at the future prototypical QB of the modern era. He was a fleet footed, elusive runner with incredible arm strength and accuracy.  Staubach recorded the highest passer rating in the NFL in four seasons (1971, 1973, 1978, 1979) and led the league with 23 touchdown passes in 1973. Although his stats might not be on par with some of the QB’s on this list, his strong play and leadership was crucial in leading the Cowboys to two Super Bowl wins. Roger was one of the best.


#9 – Brett Favre (1991 – 2010)

Bret Favre might be the the most fun QB to watch on this list. Similar to Marino, he had an arm like a canon with superior distance. He was all energy all the time. He truly played with reckless abandon, which attributed to his all time record in interceptions (336).  But even with so many interceptions to his resume, he took chances that most QB’s wouldn’t take and most times they paid off.  He’s listed in the top four in all time passing yards, touchdowns, completions and attempts. He went to two Super Bowls, winning the title in 1996. He’s in the Hall of Fame for a reason. Bret Favre changed the game. There was no one quite like him.


#10 – Drew Brees (2001 – 2020)

Drew Brees is one of the most statistically accomplished QB’s in NFL history. He currently holds the NFL record for passing yards with 80,358. He’s second only to Tom Brady in passing touchdowns with 571.  He’s first all-time in passes completed with 7,142 completions. He also has the all-time highest completion percentage at 67.7%. Brees also has a Super Bowl ring to add to his credentials. Some people might think he doesn’t belong on this list. I believe he does. His accomplishments are undeniable. He’s statistically one of the most efficient and consistent QB’s of all time.


    Players who round out my Top 20

    (My Honorable Mentions list)

    There are several players that could arguably be placed on my top 10 list that I felt would be better placed at a slightly lower ranking. Nothing can ever take away from their greatness or penchant for consistently winning. They are some of the greatest legends and champions of all time.

    Bob Griese, Otto Graham, Terry Bradshaw, Steve Young, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Sammy Baugh, Sid Luckman, Troy Aikman





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