OK, prior to my announcing the results of my study as to the best quarterbacks of all time, I’m going to inform my readers (all six of you who care about the NFL) what I decided to do regarding the Otto Graham Predicament, etc. In short, I’m giving half points for the four years of the AAFC, as well as the first four years of the AFL, with the reasoning being that a.) the competition in those leagues was less than that in the NFL (although as I mentioned earlier, the Browns entered the NFL in 1950 and promptly won the championship under Otto Graham’s leadership, and it only took the AFL three tries to win the Super Bowl), and b.) guys who played in those leagues during those years deserve, if less than full credit, something more than no credit for the body of work they carried out. This has the effect, practically speaking, of moving Otto Graham into the top ten all-time of quarterbacks (he almost made it without getting the extra points for his four AAFC years).

Now, let me get the ball rolling by listing some of the guys in positions 11-20. I’m saving some of these guys for my next post, when I will commit the NFL Quarterback equivalent of blasphemy, as I detail how at least two of the quarterbacks that people bandy about as being, perhaps, “the greatest of all time”, didn’t even make the top ten. And looking at the evidence, I think that it’s accurate, and that people have a grossly overinflated opinion of these men. But for now…

Tied for 20th all-time are three quarterbacks, Terry Bradshaw, Norm van Brocklin, and Dan Fouts. Bradshaw, of course, gets a lot of his points on the basis of being a winner, with four Super Bowl rings to show for his career. Fouts is the diametrical opposite, a great player on some pass-happy “Air Coryell” squads that never quite made it to the show. Fouts, in fact, ended his tremendous career without even appearing in a Super Bowl. Van Brocklin, of course, was quarterbacking before I was born.

The 19th-rated quarterback, for the moment, is Tom Brady. I say, “for the moment”, because a Super Bowl win would catapult Brady into a tie for 16th, a bump up, but still nowhere near the top. Some won’t like this, coming as it does as Brady is in the midst of a season-for-the-ages, but the fact of the matter is that this is the first statistically impressive season Brady has had, to speak of. Basically, until this year, Tom Brady has garnered almost all his points by winning Super Bowls. Now, that’s impressive, and he’ll probably add one more, but as we’ve said, for a QB to be an all-time top-fiver, he needs a combination of both. I’ve already argued that “wins” is a wonderful way to analyze a team, but a fairly poor way to analyze one individual player, particularly when there are 50+ other players who contribute to the success of that team. Brady is a winner, one of the greatest winners of all time, and yes, the success of the team is in large measure due to Brady’s play. Further, it wouldn’t take Brady but a couple more seasons like this one to jump to the very top.

But he ain’t there yet…

More to come in my next post, including my first piece of NFL sacrilege.

2 responses »

  1. Dareano says:

    Is this Brady’s first statistically impressive season? Well, that depends on what we mean by impressive. He has led the league in passing yards and touchdowns prior to this season. His QB rating has been over 85 in every one of his full seasons. That’s pretty impressive, especially if you consider what kind of receivers he played with prior to this season.

  2. Byron says:

    Well, yes and no. Certainly, he has not played with great wide receivers, but when we start getting into analyzing that, we throw so many variables into the situation that it becomes impossible to analyze much of anything. Brady’s QB rating in his six seasons as a starter, prior to this gonzo season, ranked 7th, 11th, 12th, 9th, 6th, and 13th. That’s above average, certainly, and maybe we can call 6th- and 7th-place finishes “impressive”, depending on our definitions as you suggest, but the fact remains that this is the first season in which he has really demonstrated superiority over the rest of the league in passing (albeit, by a large margin this year—and in my system, he’ll be rewarded handsomely for so doing). Until this year, he’s been above average, and consistently so, but clearly, Tom Brady’s value has come in his ability to win Super Bowls, not really in super standout statistics.

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