Monday, April 28, 2014

8 comments Bob McGinn Makes a List of the Top 25 Quarterbacks Ever, Seemingly Fails at Doing So

The last time we left Bob McGinn he was telling us that IF Aaron Rodgers got injured then the Packers would be totally fine because SENECA WALLACE HAS TOTALLY GOT THIS. Hmm...well it turns out the night after McGinn wrote this column Aaron Rodgers got hurt in a game against the Bears and the Packers were not fine at all. In fact, Wallace was benched for Scott Tolzien and then the Packers signed Matt Flynn because for God's sake there has to be someone who knows how to play quarterback on the roster. So McGinn swung and missed on Seneca Wallace being a quality backup, but not one to hide after making such a bold prediction, Bob decides that he is going to rank the top 25 quarterbacks he has seen play. 

Thanks to Eric for sending me the link to this article. As Eric mentioned in his email to me (spoiler alert!) Drew Brees is too low, Brett Favre is too high, Bart Starr is too absent, and Donovan McNabb is not absent. And yes, I realize it is a subjective ranking of these quarterbacks, but there are some mysterious reasons given for the inclusion/ranking of some quarterbacks.

Longtime readers of the Journal Sentinel probably realize many of the columns that I've written over the years were developed through my legion of contacts from the ranks of personnel men, coaches and players.

He's sort of a big deal. People know him.

Some have maintained that if Peyton Manning plays well and leads the Denver Broncos to victory over the defensive-minded Seattle Seahawks, he should be acclaimed the greatest quarterback of all time.

That got me started.

Probably the easiest column in the world to write is a list column.

"I'm started AND lists are easy. I'm doing a list for my next column. It's better than writing this 'Seneca Wallace would be the best receiver on the Packers roster if given a chance' column I was thinking of writing." 

But with the debate about the best quarterback ever undoubtedly going on for two weeks, the decision was made to come up with a list, in order, of my top 25 quarterbacks of all time.

The list sort of reads as being out of order.

These are my personal choices. I didn't consult a soul.


In fact, I've never really given it much thought until last week.

But no worries, this is a super-well thought out list that is the result of minutes and minutes of Bob's concentration and focus, as well as the results of what quarterback names were drawn out of a hat. 

In preparing the list, it was decided that only quarterbacks with 10 years of playing experience would be considered. I also included only players that I can remember watching. Because I never saw the great Otto Graham (1946-'55), he couldn't be on the list.

This is the only criteria required to make the list. Well, it also turns out being really tough is a criteria, but seemingly an unofficial criteria. 

Criteria? There really weren't any other than years of service. I did consider the physical attributes of older players and how they would project to the NFL of today.

Projecting quarterbacks who played 40 years ago as to what type of statistics they would put up in today's game...what could go wrong in doing this?

Passer rating didn't play much of a role.

For one thing, it doesn't factor in winning, rushing and clutch play.

Well, part of the reason it doesn't factor in winning and clutch play is because winning is a team statistic and clutch play isn't definable. It's intangible, which is part of what makes it so fun to use when making shit up.

More than anything, this list was based mostly on unscientific, gut feel.

No soul, just gut.

1. Joe Montana (1979-'94)

2. Johnny Unitas (1956-'73)

The ultimate leader of men.

Sorry famous generals and any other world leader, but Johnny Unitas is THE ultimate leader of men. 

3. Tom Brady (2000-'13, active)

4. Dan Marino (1983-'99)

I'm not trying to be a dick, but if Bob McGinn is all about winning then I'm not sure how Dan Marino made his way up to #4 on this list. I'm not sure if anyone has heard, but he had zero Super Bowl wins in his NFL career. 

5. Peyton Manning (1998-'13, active): Near the top of most-prepared passers ever. Used his domineering personality to make football a legitimate sport in basketball-mad Indiana.

Apparently football was an illegitimate sport in Indiana prior to Peyton Manning playing quarterback for the Colts. 

6. Brett Favre (1991-2010): Nobody had more fun playing the game.

Apparently one major criteria for inclusion on this list is, "Did he have fun playing the game?" If it's a "yes" then welcome to the Top 25 QB's of all-time list. The whole "He had fun playing the game like a child" always sounds like bullshit concocted in order to differentiate Favre from other quarterbacks. I respect Brett Favre, but he isn't the sixth-best quarterback in NFL history nor do I think he should be the sixth-best quarterback Bob McGinn has ever seen. This sounds like bias caused by McGinn covering Favre for most of Favre's career. 

Teammates loved playing with him. Defined the gunslinger quarterback.

He was like a child out there, but he isn't like a better quarterback than John Elway in my opinion. I didn't know Favre's teammates liked playing with him. I'm surprised this didn't vault him all the way up to the #1 spot, especially since he was a gunslinger, which is a description I've never heard used in reference to Favre. Very original.

7. John Elway (1983-'98): Probably the best pure athlete on this or any list. Arm strength ranked right alongside Favre's. Rare running ability.

I probably would put Elway above Favre. Of course Elway didn't have fun playing the game, so he clearly should be moved down this list because of that.

13. Terry Bradshaw (1970-'83): Big arm and an even bigger personality. Overcame sluggish start to his career and became the all-time Super Bowl winner. Outstanding athlete.

I'm sorry. I just can't accept Terry Bradshaw as a Top 15 all-time quarterback. I know he played in an era where he didn't pass the football as much as quarterbacks do today, but he has a career completion percentage of 51.5% and threw two more touchdowns than interceptions for his career. He played on great teams and won multiple Super Bowls, so he gets bumped up this list more than he should.

15. Ken Stabler (1970-'84): Fearless competitor with a whip for an arm. Big, left-handed pocket passer. Really good in the clutch.

What was Stabler's clutchiness rating? Probably a 85 out of 100. Because clutchiness can be measured so it's known for sure that Stabler was really good in the clutch. 

16. Sonny Jurgensen (1957-'74): Played his final season at age 40. Deadly deep-ball thrower but, really, could throw any pass. Never took himself too seriously.


17. Kurt Warner (1998-2009)

18. Ben Roethlisberger (2004-'13, active)

Has anyone ever been more difficult to sack in the pocket?

Probably not, but he isn't clutch enough nor does he have enough fun to be moved up this list. Sorry Ben, put a smile on your face and Bob McGinn will love you more.

19. Troy Aikman (1989-2000)

I feel like Troy Aikman should be higher on this list than Kurt Warner. I guess Warner's statistics are just much more impressive to McGinn. 

20. Steve McNair (1995-2007): Benefited by sitting early in his career. Developed into a consistent thrower, but his career was defined by toughness and running.

I think I misread this one initially. It said that Steve McNair was a Top 20 quarterback of all-time and I know that isn't true. So obviously I misread this or it is a misprint. Especially considering Drew Brees and Bart Starr haven't made the list yet.

21. Donovan McNabb (1999-2011)

(Bengoodfella dies) 

I mean, Donovan McNabb did win games as a quarterback. So he has that going for him. Let's see what Bob McGinn thinks about McNabb and why he put McNabb on this list, just below Steve McNair nonetheless. I bet if he played in the NFL long enough then Vince Young would have made this list. 

Always seemed to run through the middle for first downs when Eagles needed them most.

Gee, this doesn't seem anecdotal at all. So Donovan McNabb is the 21st best quarterback in NFL history because he ran up the middle for a first down when the Eagles needed it the most, not just when they needed it the least. But oh, it gets better. 

Developed into capable passer from mid-career on.

Yes, the 21st best quarterback in NFL history was a capable passer for the latter part of his career on. That's good to know. Unfortunately, Bob McGinn puts McNabb behind one specific player who was an historically great passer from mid-career on. His name is Drew Brees. But Brees hasn't won anything like McNabb did, right? 

23. Randall Cunningham (1985-2001)

24. Bert Jones (1973-'82): Career ruined early by shoulder injuries. Unreal competitor and passer. Bill Belichick has called him the best "pure passer" he ever saw.

I haven't ever really heard of Bert Jones. But if Bill Belichick liked him then he couldn't be bad, could he? 

25. Drew Brees (2001-'13, active)

Regardless of what era Drew Brees has played in, this is too low for him. I'm not a big fan of Brees, but he has to be above Donovan McNabb at the very least. Also, I would probably place him above Bert Jones, even with Bill Belichick's ringing endorsement of Jones. 

My biggest problem with this list is that Drew Brees should be higher, Bart Starr only gets an honorable mention, and Donovan McNabb shouldn't be on the list unless he only gets an honorable mention as well. Also, if McGinn is going to rate quarterbacks while projecting how they would do in today's game then I don't know how Y.A. Tittle didn't make the list. 

That's my take. Since McGinn used his gut and didn't use any statistics I'm sure there are other parts of the ranking that you as readers take issue with. I would probably move Troy Aikman up the list and move Drew Brees up the list even when the era these guys played in is taken into account.


JBsptfn said...

I would have Unitas at #1, Elway at #2, and Montana at #3.

As for Brady, after what I have learned about him, I can't justify putting him in the top-10.

A guy named Ernie Adams, a shadowy figure who lurks in the background, is actually the one who pulls the strings in Foxboro, and Brady and Belichick are his puppets. They would be nothing without him.

Anonymous said...

I think a superbowl win is an overrated stat for a great qb. Lets not forget that guys like David Carr and graham Harrell have won the superbowl.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the laugh. Be careful, Ernie Adams is monitoring your online activity right now.

Slag-King said...

Nobody had more fun playing the game.

That line just irritates me! I've heard Madden say this even after Favre threw an interception. Doesn't matter, he's having fun! So what the other QBs in the league do not have fun but work and grind and grit their teeth every time they get behind the center?! Lazy, lazy, lazy analysis/narrative/story/meta/whatever you call it.

Bengoodfella said...

JB, you know you could be killed by calling out Ernie Adams like that. Fortunately, no one can eliminate comments except for me, so if anything happens we have evidence that it happened right after you acknowledged Adams' existence.

I would personally have Andrew Luck #1. I mean, it's just a matter of time.

Anon, they didn't win the SB as starters but a Super Bowl win is a team effort. Obviously I would never take anything away from a QB who wins a Super Bowl and it does mean something, but SB win isn't necessarily the sign of a great QB.

Slag, it annoys me too. McGinn covered Favre so I guess it's to be expected though. One QB's "having fun" is another QB's "not taking the game serious enough" or "showboating when his team is losing."

Eric Long said...

Doesn't it seem like McGinn got on the phone with Peter King and asked him how to troll well enough to get enough page hits so that he can get offered a job in a larger media market? Or perhaps Peter King is now bribing McGinn to talk about Brett Favre and using his love of the game to move him higher on the list. My conspiracy theory of the day! (I'm joking... mostly... somewhat... ok, only a little, this is pretty possible!)

Bengoodfella said...

Eric, it is funny you write that because Peter has occasionally talked about McGinn in MMQB as being one of the better and more knowledgeable beat writers.

I wouldn't joke about that. It's possible, who knows? We all know having fun while playing the game is important, and since Favre played like a little boy, then that makes him the best QB of all-time.

april said...

Well I like list created by Bob. It’s a hard task to create such a list of best quarterback of all time. I think he has done complete justice while creating the list and I agree with him 100%.