In my continual pursuit of stringing my readers along, allow me to mention one more important thing that needs mentioning about these QB ratings, and that is this: When I say, for instance, that Terry Bradshaw, Norm van Brocklin, and Dan Fouts are tied for the 20th-best QB in NFL history, I don’t really mean that in a definitive way. Here’s what I’m saying: Terry Bradshaw might be the 20th-best QB in NFL history, and he might be the 25th-best, and he might be the 15th-best. There is some margin of error in this analysis. Perhaps Terry finished one place behind the top half in a given season, and didn’t get one point that he’d have had if the guy in front of him had thrown one more INT. Maybe two seasons later, he finished one position out of the top quarter, and there’s another point, and suddenly, statistically, he’s 15th. Or perhaps the opposite could be true, that but for a lucky bounce one way or another, the Steelers win one less Super Bowl (or even make it to one less), and he finishes ahead of another quarterback in the ratings by taking the final Sunday off, when the other guy throws three picks and slips below him, and there’s two or three points that jump him from 25th to 20th. My point is that we can’t really be definitive with these rankings, but what we can say, unquestionably, is that Terry Bradshaw, having come out 20th, is not one of the top five QBs of all time, nor is he somewhere around 50th. No, he’s about the 20th-best, give or take a few positions.
Now, this doesn’t matter a great deal in discussions about Terry Bradshaw; nobody thinks of him as being one of the very best of the very best of all time. But with the next batch of names I’ll be throwing your way, other guys who rate in the mid-to-low teens, it’ll become quite important. Simply put, if the numbers show you’re 15th, you aren’t first, or second, or fifth. You might be the 10th-best, and you might be the 20th, but you don’t belong in any serious discussion of “he was the best of all time”. Hold that thought for my next post, which will be titled “The Two Most Overrated Quarterbacks of All-Time (Besides Joe Namath)”…it’ll come in handy.