I Quit Responding “All Lives Matter”–Because I Believe the Bible

All lives matter. I believe that with every fiber of my being. I believe it because I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and as a follower of Jesus, I am obligated to believe that the Bible is completely true, and that its precepts are binding on me. And the Bible teaches it, plain and simple. I believe that lives matter before babies are born; Scripture upholds that truth, I believe. Simply put: I cannot be a faithful Christian and not believe that all lives–pre-born until the natural end of life–matter, and this because all human beings are created in the image of God.

That may sound like a funny way to begin a piece explaining why “all lives matter” is no longer a response I use. But it is necessary. Because it is on the basis of the fact that all lives matter, that black lives matter. In fact, I would challenge you, if you do not believe the Bible, with the question, “WHY? Why do you believe black lives matter?” In particular, if life is simply the product of a series of highly improbable random events, not having originated from a Creator, how can we say, with any genuine certainty, that ANY life matters? Please consider that apart from a moral Lawgiver, we cannot speak of any universally-binding moral Law; in other words, absent God, there can be no binding morality, for each man ultimately becomes a law to himself; your ethical frame of reference is ultimately arbitrary, and I have no compelling reason to agree with you. In your (correct) concern to stand for the sanctity of black lives, have you taken the time to consider WHY you believe black lives matter?

Black lives matter, because all lives matter, because the Bible says so. But I no longer respond “all lives matter”, and the reason I no longer do that is because I believe the Bible–all of the Bible–is true. Allow me to explain. Several years ago, after I had posted, “all lives matter”–meaning well, I believe, and being Biblically correct–a friend explained to me why, my good intentions notwithstanding, “all lives matter” was not only not helpful, but was, in fact, hurtful in the way it came across to those who were attempting to draw attention to the issues of race that continue to plague our nation. It was at this point that I did five really, really radical things:

I shut up.

I listened.

I empathized.

I thought.

I changed.

Ultimately, I did these things because I believe that the Bible is true, worthy of being believed and lived by. Here’s are some things that my Bible teaches me:

I should always speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15)
This means that simply speaking the truth, with little regard for how it is perceived by others, using it as a club, absent a motive of love for other people, is disobedience to Jesus. That’s what the Bible teaches; I believe the Bible. “Speaking the truth” is an important part of what I say, but it is not the only thing that governs my words. Let’s think about this for a moment…I have always believed and taught that simply because something is true, doesn’t mean it needs to be said. And this is because of love: sometimes I refrain from saying true things because I love people. Every decent human being on earth does this, Christian or not. Let’s say you are 75 pounds overweight and smell like onions. Is it incumbent on me to remind you of this fact on a regular basis? Well, if I am your doctor, then sure; every time I see you, I should remind you that you are 75 pounds overweight, and encourage you to do something about it if you hope to live a long, happy, and healthy life. If I am your spouse, I should let you know that you smell like onions, that others might find that offensive, and that you should try to figure out how to fix it. But it isn’t my place to continually tell you, “you’re 75 pounds overweight and you stink.” You know it; the important people in your life who should be saying it likely are, and my continual harping on it by telling you the truth may well ruin our friendship…even though I told you the truth. “All lives matter” is absolutely true, but is it loving? Often, as my friend expressed to me, for all its truth, it is not seen as loving…or helpful (more on this below). Because I believe the Bible is true, I believe that saying things which are seen as unloving–when it is in my power not to–is to deny the love of Jesus that I should have toward others. I am reminded by I Corinthians 13 that if I don’t have love, nothing. Else. Matters. Nothing. Period. Full stop.

My speech should always be gracious. (Colossians 4:6)
Our words should be uplifting, helpful. What we say should add value to conversations, to reflect toward others the grace God displays toward us.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. (Proverbs 25:11)
This ancient proverb paints for us a picture of how beautiful it can be when we say just the right thing at just the right time.

Do you love people? The Bible, which I believe to be true, requires that I do so in every way I can, including with my words. I hope you agree; if so, please consider further.

Why, you may ask, does “all lives matter”, this Bible truth which we believe, come off as offensive to many people, when used as a response in the context of contemporary race relations? Is it because they deny that truth? Certainly, there are people who do not believe this truth to apply to the unborn; certainly, there are people whose belief of this truth is not based upon biblical revelation; I discussed both above. But with incredibly rare exception, every person essentially believes that “all lives matter”, at least extended to those already born. This is clearly not the reason they find “all lives matter” to be offensive; instead, the sense that I believe they feel is that “all lives matter” is a dismissive way to belittle the reality that black lives, in America, have not historically, and are not currently in practice, valued as highly as white lives. It is not of interest to me to argue this point, nor to dwell on the truth that great strides indeed have been made; the undeniable truth of these things cannot mitigate the other undeniable truth, that we have not arrived yet at the place where all lives are seen by all people as equally valuable. Skin color continues to be an impediment to equal treatment. This seems so obviously true that I need not argue the point; if you disagree–but care to know–the facts are out there. And so “all lives matter”, spoken in response to “black lives matter”, is seen as a way to dismiss the legitimate concerns of remaining inequality in our culture.

Let’s use an analogy. Suppose you lived during World War II, and became aware of the extermination of millions of Jews in Nazi concentration camps. Suppose there began a movement called, “Jewish Lives Matter”. Would your response be, “all lives matter! German lives matter as well!”. Would it be true that German lives matter? Of course. But the need of the moment would have been to emphasize the equal humanity of Jewish people, the preciousness of their lives; it was Jews, not Germans (by and large, with exceptions) which were being marched off to Dachau. It would have been entirely valid to support a “Jewish Lives Matter” movement, and a response to that of “all lives matter”, while true, would not have been seen as helpful. Or loving. Or appropriate. For reasons that should be obvious.

My point is not to compare the plight of concentration camp Jews with contemporary African-Americans; my point rather is to illustrate that, just as “all lives matter” would not have been helpful, or loving, in response to Nazi atrocities, neither is it helpful or loving in response to “black lives matter.” Because we speak the truth, yes, but we speak it in love. Always. Without exception. If, that is, we believe the Bible, and care about being faithful to Jesus.

I do. And so when I was confronted with how my truthful-yet-loveless words came off, I changed my speech…because I believe the Bible is true.

Now to the application: first, I acknowledge that some say it honestly, simply because it’s true, and they haven’t thought through the issues. My point isn’t to castigate or to shame; I am simply asking those people to do what I did: to stop, to listen, and to re-think their words, in the light of the Bible, and its call to always speak truth in love…graciously…fitly. In the end, do you want to be known as a person who used truth as a sledgehammer? Or would you rather be known as one who, never compromising truth, nonetheless used it carefully, conditioned by love for God and people? Better to be silent than to needlessly offend by our lovelessness (James 1:19).

Others, it should be said, seem to say it stubbornly, pridefully refusing to stop and consider the totality of what the Bible teaches, or because they seem more concerned to “prove a point” than to love people. I am asking you to repent. And to change. Because if that’s your attitude in “sharing the truth”, you are wrong. Period. Another full stop. I Corinthians 13 doesn’t have a carve out for your ugly pride.

The Bible, I believe, is true from cover to cover. And because of that, while there are many, many times when it is entirely fitting to proclaim loudly and clearly that “all lives matter”, I will never again use that term in response to the plaintive cry, “black lives matter.”

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Addendum: I use the term “black lives matter”. I am now willing to say that, to use those exact words. As I type this, it is currently a part of my Facebook picture. I do so recognizing that there have attached to the movement of this name certain folks whose philosophy, beliefs, and actions I do not always agree with. I recognize, then, the potential for misunderstanding; for this reason, I have been urged to reconsider using this term. I will not, but for this reason: I would prefer to stand with my black brothers and sisters, declaring the worth and equality of their existence, even at the risk of misunderstanding. I am happy, in turn, to answer questions anyone might have about parts of the movement with which they might take issue (and with which I might, as well). My calculation I would express this way: better for all to know my basic stance for equality–and then have to patiently explain where I might differ with a particular movement–than to allow a fear for potential misunderstanding to cause me to shrink back from declaring my love for my brothers and sisters. Black lives matter!

It’s Not a Coup

So stop saying it.

The impeachment proceedings may be ill-advised, and end up being a political windfall for the Republicans. Time will tell. But it’s not a coup.

The Democrats have certainly demonstrated that they want to remove this president from office; this has seemed to be their intent, one way or another, essentially from Day One. But this is not a coup.

The chance is strong that the House will, almost completely along party lines, vote to convict the President. But this is not a coup.

The Senate will likely not vote to remove him from office, though one writer has written about one surprisingly easy way to see Trump removed from office. I don’t expect to see that happen, but even if it did, it’s not a coup.

And those who claim that it is, following the lead of some talking head somewhere on talk radio most likely, discredit and embarrass themselves. A coup is defined as “a sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a government”. This is none of those things:

  • It’s not sudden. The lead-up to this has taken some time; we’ve known about these allegations for awhile.
  • It’s not violent. You might not like the tactics being employed by Adam Schiff, et al, and that’s fine, but this is not violent in any way, shape, or form.
  • It’s not illegal. The Constitution itself provides for exactly the situation at hand; it prescribes this particular method for investigating a sitting president and, if appropriate, removing him from power.
  • It’s not even, in the meaning of the term, the ‘seizure of power from a government’. In the event the president is removed from power, the Democrats do not replace Trump with Nancy Pelosi; instead, we have President Mike Pence, who ideologically, at least, is much further removed from Democrat positions than is President Trump.

    So complain about the process; dispute the manner; interpret the evidence or lack thereof as you might see fit. But for goodness’ sake, do us all a favor and quit saying that this is a coup. Because whatever it might be, it is categorically and certainly not.

  • It’s Not my Pleasure to Write This

    I’m pretty sure Chick-fil-A sold fewer sandwiches today than it did last Tuesday.

    Unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, you are likely aware of the new, blockbuster controversy, in which Chick-fil-A, after donating to the Christian organizations Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and The Salvation Army, announced that the company, having fulfilled its stated obligations to the organizations, would no longer be donating to them. Of course, Chick-fil-A has received quite a bit of heat from the “Rainbow Mafia” (HT: Dan Burrell). The Rainbow Mafia, a (likely relatively small) subset of the LGBT movement joined by a number of heterosexual regressives, is dedicated not only to advancing the LBGT movement, but to demanding that every single person, organization, and entity in these United States not only care, but agree with them in their every pronouncement on the subject of sexuality. They will do this at the point of a gun or, in keeping with presidential failure Little Beto, the Texas Totalitarian, at the point of denied tax exemption for gay agenda heretics. Members of this Rainbow Mafia seem as close as anyone to modern-day fascists…and it appears Chick-fil-A caved to their demands.

    The optics are thus, in a word, awful.

    It looks for all the world as though Chick-fil-A Corporate has folded like a cheap tent, quailed before the threat of losing dollars, abandoned principle and its legion of Raving Fans in order to appease those who will never be appeased. Ben Shapiro was none too happy; Rod Dreher is convinced this is “gutless surrender” perpetrated by the “cowards” who lead Chick-fil-A. A very nasty little man named John Nolte had this to say; he is clearly wrong in some important ways.

    For those a bit more objective, Joe Carter had a reasonable take on the situation, as did Russell Moore, who asks, “Should You be Angry at Chick-fil-A?”. Relevant Magazine has a fairly mild take on things as well.

    On the other end of the spectrum from those who chose to rake Chick-fil-A over the coals is this colossal adventure in missing the point.

    So what to make of all of this, and what to do? Having worked for Chick-fil-A for over nine years, and having been a Raving Fan longer than this, I think I have some qualifications to speak on the subject. And yes, I am concerned. As I said, the optics are absolutely terrible; this on its face looks like little more than capitulation. That said, if there is an organization in this country that might, in such a circumstance, deserve a little benefit of the doubt–temporarily, if nothing else–it would seem to be Chick-fil-A. Further, I’ve decided that I am not going to play the “rush to judgment” game; I’m a lot more concerned with having the right take than I am with having the hot take (I wish others might think the same way). But the question remains, what should we think?

    First, I am willing to allow Chick-fil-A’s leadership an opportunity to address the questions that I have which, to my knowledge, have not been asked. Accordingly, I have penned the following letter which I will mail to Tim Tassopolous and Dan Cathy in the morning (and soon, to the operators with which I have been privileged to serve; they should understand the stakes and exert whatever influence they might be able to, in order to ensure that Chick-fil-A doesn’t do what it does simply due to pressure from folks like the Rainbow Mafia):

    Dear Tim,

    I write to you as a longtime member of the Chick-fil-A family, first as a “Raving Fan”, and then, for the better part of ten years as a team member. I have had the privilege of working for Jonathan Hollis, Zach Thomas, and Sandeep Kapoor, all of whom I consider to be personal friends. Additionally, I have been quite privileged to work alongside Operators Michael Calloway, Erica Hartfield, Ummara Sajid, and Zach Ayers, as they honed their talents at the Macland Crossing location. During my time as a team member, I had the privilege to meet both Truett and Dan Cathy; their warmth and graciousness, I will never forget. I have long considered Chick-fil-A to be the finest quick-service restaurant in the world in terms of the guest experience, and since leaving employment last year, I have continued to be both a Raving Fan and a supporter of all things Chick-fil-A.

    It will not surprise you that I write today out of concern regarding Chick-fil-A’s recently announced decision regarding charitable donations. I want to begin by emphasizing that I write to ask a couple of questions that I feel to be quite germane, and not to jump on the bandwagon of criticism. However, the answers to these critical questions will go a long way toward determining my ongoing support and patronage of Chick-fil-A, as you will understand.

    I understand that the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to continue to donate to worthy organizations, “secular” and faith-based; I read this statement from a Chick-fil-A spokesperson: “Moving forward, you will see that the Chick-fil-A Foundation will support the three specific initiatives of homelessness, hunger and education, and it will reassess its philanthropic partnerships annually to allow maximum impact. These partners could include faith-based and non-faith-based charities.” I also know that Chick-fil-A Operators are free to make their own donation decisions (in fact, I was often involved in such decisions during my time at Macland Crossing). I understand that the commitment that had been made to both FCA and the Salvation Army had been completed insofar as charitable donations is concerned.

    However, the statements issued leave critical questions unaddressed, questions which I now pose in an effort to understand more fully Chick-fil-A’s decisions and, more importantly, motives in making them; surely you understand that this decision, taken on its face, gives rise to this question: is Chick-fil-A capitulating to the pressure placed on it by some “LGBT” groups, given that both FCA and Salvation Army, as evangelical entities, hold to what might be described as the traditional Biblical understanding of sexuality? And so the questions:

    • Given that the Salvation Army does much good work in the areas of “homelessness, hunger and education”, Chick-fil-A’s stated priorities, did the Army’s stated policy on sexuality and relationships play any role in the decision to terminate the donations?

    • Will the stated beliefs and practices of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Salvation Army, preclude these and similar organizations from being considered again for donations from Chick-fil-A Corporate? Would a Christian charity be disqualified for holding to traditional evangelical teaching on the subject of sexuality?

    I ask these questions sincerely, with a real desire to get past the “spin” and understand Chick-fil-A’s rationale. I ask them respectfully, believing that the answers to them are profoundly important. If the answers to both of these questions are “no”, then I will receive this news happily, and engage in the spreading of it to others.

    If, however, the answer to these questions is “yes”, or if there is no direct answer to these two (rather simple) yes-or-no questions, then I will be forced to sadly inform others that this is the case as well. Further, if Chick-fil-A has—to my astonishment, I would admit—chosen to withdraw support from these faith-based organizations for the reason (at least in part) that their Biblically-based beliefs are found to be offensive to some, then I will have great cause to now question Chick-fil-A’s sincerity as to the first three words of its stated purpose—“to glorify God”—and while I will not engage in a boycott, be sure that it will be with no small measure of sadness that I enter a Chick-fil-A, no longer a “Raving Fan” of a restaurant unique for its quality and commitments, but instead only as a customer of just another chicken joint.


    Byron Harvey

    Second, I would encourage you to write Chick-fil-A Corporate asking those same core questions. The issue here is what Chick-fil-A is not saying, and it is these questions which they must be prevailed upon to answer. Their corporate statement simply isn’t enough; absent clarification, it’s hard not to see the criticisms being leveled as justified.

    Third, donate to the Salvation Army (I did today), and to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. These are Biblically-faithful organizations that do good works; the idea that they are “anti-gay” is, similar to the idea that Chick-fil-A is also guilty, preposterous on its face.

    Finally, if this is as some suspect an effort at appeasement on the part of Chick-fil-A, it is bound to fail…spectacularly. Here’s an opinion piece on CNN, for instance, which makes this clear. Every Chick-fil-A operator has the freedom to donate as he/she sees fit, and there are many who will unapologetically support causes like FCA, the Salvation Army, and others; the Rainbow Mafia will never be satisfied.

    And neither, if our worst suspicions are confirmed, will Chick-fil-A’s legion of fans.

    Four Questions Richard Cohen Won’t Answer

    Richard Cohen of the Washington Post wrote a February 4 column calling the Pences “bigots” because of their belief that homosexual behavior is morally wrong (a position held, of course, not only vice-presidents, but by evangelical Christians, but by Roman Catholics, Muslims, Jews, etc.), claiming that “it is simply wrong to foster a belief that homosexuality and same-sex marriage are immoral.” Now, to label Cohen’s reasoning as “simplistic”, his moral compass as “skewed”, and his Biblical understanding as “deeply flawed” is low-hanging fruit, so I won’t do that.

    Instead, I’d like to pose some questions that Mr. Cohen, I daresay, would be loathe to answer. I do so in order to demonstrate that evangelical believers should not fear–but rather take courage–when people like Mr. Cohen say such ridiculous and inaccurate things about us. I’ll not get the chance to ask him face-to-face (though I’d relish the opportunity), but I think that these simple, several questions would unmask a lot about a fellow who can easily sit in his corner office and lob hand grenades at evangelicals, but who likely has never even considered his own inconsistencies, the ramifications of the position he has chosen to take, and (almost certainly) the hypocrisy of writing as he does.

    Question #1 in demonstrating the fact that Mr. Cohen speaks as an emperor with no clothing: “can you envision ANY sexual scenario involving two consenting adults which you would find ‘immoral’? Does such a scenario exist in your mind?” I’ll offer some examples, starting with an easy one: sex outside of marriage. Given that a majority of adults today–including some who would call themselves “Christians”–profess to have no moral qualms with fornication, I’d expect Mr. Cohen to give a thumbs-up. But let’s move on to some other possible scenarios (pardon the somewhat graphic nature of at least a couple of these): would Mr. Cohen find polygamy to be morally objectionable? Seventeen percent of Americans, according to the most recent polling (2017), see this as an acceptable practice, but I have no idea which side of the fence Mr. Cohen is on here. What about group marriage, the idea that, say, four men can marry three women? It might seem nutty, but that should be no barrier to our asking the question, as “gay marriage” seemed nutty a quarter-century ago. Would Mr. Cohen endorse group marriage as a morally-acceptable option? Let’s go further: would Mr. Cohen have any reason to object morally to an arrangement involving a 35-year-old man and his 60-year-old mother? That disgusts us with good reason, but I would like to know if it disgusts Mr. Cohen as well.

    Now I suppose it’s altogether within the realm of possibility that Mr. Cohen has no moral qualms with any of those scenarios, but I’m going to make the assumption that he does, that he cannot bring himself to say that a man and his mother in a relationship of this nature is a moral thing. Given the benefit of the doubt, question #2 is in order: “on what basis do you make the judgment that this behavior is morally wrong?” OK, you would be willing to call it “immoral”, but why? Is there some standard outside yourself to which you make your appeal, Mr. Cohen, someTHING or someONE to whom you defer when make determinations about moral rightness or wrongness? If so, what is it? Or do you instead look inward, fly your moral sense by the seat of your own moral britches, and “call ’em as YOU see ’em”? Now, Mr. Cohen, it seems fair to say, is uninterested in the Bible’s guidance on issues of morality; as a non-Christian, that’s to be expected, and is his right, of course. But if he seizes the prerogative to say something is “simply wrong”, we reasonably should demand that he supply the answer to this question: WHY is it wrong?

    In order to ask question #3, I’m going to make the assumption that he does not appeal to any authority outside his own “inner moral compass” in order to answer moral questions. If I’m wrong, then the question loses some of its value, but still has value with regard to anyone else who derives their sense of morality from within, so here it is: “why should anyone feel compelled at all to adopt your definition of ‘morality’ as being right, or as binding on them?” The evangelical believer says, “this behavior is right/wrong based upon God’s revelation in the Bible”. We don’t always live by it; we don’t always like it, perhaps. But we appeal to a standard outside ourselves. Vice-President and Mrs. Pence believe and act as they do because they submit to the Bible as their standard for moral guidance, and as is true for all believers, they would wish that all would do the same. But if Mr. Cohen can point to no outside, objective standard upon which to base his sense of morality, why should anyone agree with his determinations? He could just as well say, “I think every bedroom should have pink, polka-dotted curtains”, to which we could in amusement say, “nice opinion”, but we would feel no obligation to either agree or act upon his personal opinion. The very same is true with regard to his sense of morality: he’s entitled to his opinion, but why should we care what it is?

    The final question goes back to question #1 and builds on it, making the assumption that he finds at least some forms of sexual arrangements morally wrong (might I suggest that in the event he doesn’t, we have a whole ‘nother set of questions to raise). Question #4 is this: if you also find some sexual scenarios to be morally wrong, why can we not call you a bigot just as you called the Pences (and evangelicals, et al, bigots)? What’s the difference? Of course there is none; if the Pences are “bigots” because he disagrees with their moral stance, there is nothing to prevent another person from applying the same moniker to Mr. Cohen, with exactly as much credibility. If he morally opposes group marriage, those who advocate its morality can just as credibly call him a “bigot”.

    I doubt Mr. Cohen has seriously thought through these questions, of course; folks deep into the zeitgeist such as he rarely do, content as they are to drift along with the mob and crucify those who attempt to swim upstream. But the point is that we need not cower before people who criticize us, but fail to consider the ramifications of their own beliefs. We should instead be ready to ask such questions and, as we are able, engage those with the courage to answer them with the wonderful gospel of saving grace in Christ, available to all of us broken people.

    Who is REALLY the G.O.A.T.?

    Spoiler alert: it’s probably–finally–Tom Brady. I hate saying that, and I’m still not completely convinced it’s true, because (as I explain below) I think people use the wrong measuring stick to determine such things, but the cumulative evidence, as determined by a system I developed a few years ago, points to Old Tom finally this year ascending to the top spot.

    For the uninitiated, one of my sports interests is the question of greatness. I love discussions about who belongs in the Hall of Fame and who doesn’t (well, only for two sports, really, baseball and football; I couldn’t care less about the NBA and don’t know much about hockey). Further for those uninitiated, I have a system I’ve been using for the better part of a decade to try to answer the question, “who is the greatest QB of all time?” By the way, when I say Tom Brady is the GOAT, I restrict that to QB; I maintain my belief that the greatest football player of all time is Jerry Rice…but I digress.

    My system is explained thusly: I’m going to give one point for every QB that finished the season ranked in the top half of passer rating for that given season. In other words, if there are 32 teams in the NFL, QBs ranked in the top 16 get a point. QBs ranked in the top quarter (8 in this scenario) get another point. The passing champion gets a third point. Then, if the passing champion leads the second-place finisher by more than the second-place finisher leads the fifth-place finisher, I’m going to give a bonus point for an off-the-charts exceptional season. I’m going to give the championship winning QB two points, and the championship losing QB one point. Thus, the most a QB can get in a given season is 6 points.

    Now, a few explanatory thoughts: one, I grant that the QB rating system used by the NFL (not the newer “QBR”) is complicated, impossible to understand, and rewards QB “perfection” with the statistically-weird total of 158.3. It’s weird, I get it…but that doesn’t change the fact that it does rank quarterbacks by the right sorts of things, such that it’s fair to say that, generally-speaking, the best passer in a given year is the guy with the best rating. Since we have no other real way to rate QBs since the beginning of the league, it’s what we have to go with. Two, though Brady now has the most points using my system, I don’t believe that we can look at the point totals and say that the point total rankings determines definitively the positions in order of each QB. I would not dare be so arrogant. What I will say, though, is that we get via this system a decent rank order in the sense of we can say roughly who the “Top Ten” are, who belongs on the second or third tier, etc. Via my system, for instance, we learn that there’s no way we can consider John Elway or Brett Favre as the greatest QBs of all time; neither really belongs in the discussion (in fact, by my system, it’s clear that Favre may only be the third-best PACKER QB of all time). Three, there is no perfect way to compare players across eras. “Babe Ruth wouldn’t hit 60 home runs against today’s pitching”. Well, first, you don’t KNOW that, but you’re just speculating; second, it’s irrelevant. The only fair way to rank players is to compare them to their contemporaries and to ask, “how much better was Sammy Baugh than other QBs of his era, and was he “more better” than Joe Namath (answer: by leaps and bounds)?” My system operates on this basis, because there’s no other way to be objective about it. Four (and mercifully, finally), it really does no good to look at the all-time NFL passer ratings and use that to tell us much of anything, because it reflects the significant ways the game has changed. For fun, try to select the right five out of the following passers who are in the all-time top 20 in passer rating: Matt Schaub, Chad Pennington, Kirk Cousins, Marcus Mariota, Derek Carr, Dan Marino, Roger Staubach, Jim Kelly, Len Dawson, Troy Aikman. You are correct if you said the first five rather than the Hall-of-Famers. Point taken?

    Now, before the current rankings and my subjective takes on those rankings, I offer this brief discursus on why I utterly disagree with, yea despise, what I see as the simplistic reasoning which dominates the talk of who the GOAT is (even though I make SOME concession to this reasoning, as the above explanation of my system makes clear). I find it preposterous to count the number of titles won by a QB and on that basis declare said QB the “GOAT”. Yes, I give that stat a place in my system, but I’m still not convinced I haven’t given too much consideration to it. Take away championships appeared in and won, and Peyton Manning actually comes out a little ahead of Brady. While I do think that, all things being equal, winning a championship matters a bit, it’s value is overstated, and for this reason: football is the ULTIMATE team sport. If we were talking golf or bowling, then yes, winning a championship matters more than most anything else, but we aren’t; we are talking about a sport in which a QB is only on the field for, at most, 50% of the plays. Practical examples abound: Aaron Rodgers would have another point (and possibly two) if a backup TE had recovered an onside kick. Aaron watched that play from the sidelines, and yet he is “blamed” by the “how many championships has he won” crowd because he still only has one ring. Peyton Manning would have one (and possibly two) more points if a combination of at least TWO things–neither of which he had any control over–hadn’t materialized: one, on third-and-seven and nursing a 7-point lead against the Ravens, needing only a first down to go to the Super Bowl, the brilliant Broncos coaching staff dialed up a run by a rookie RB rather than putting the success of a seven-yard-gain in the hands of ARGUABLY THE GOAT AT THE TIME. Then, after the Ravens get the ball back, a Broncos safety misplays a ball in a way coached against in MIDDLE SCHOOL to allow a WR to get behind him and tie the game. Manning “loses” one, and maybe two points, because of things out of his control. The greatest examples, though, involve three of Tom Brady’s Super Bowl victories; we can argue about whether or not he is the GOAT, but there’s no argument: Tom Brady is the luckiest QB of all time hands-down. Dear Tom is standing on the sidelines as the offensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks makes the dumbest play-call in Super Bowl history, handing the game to the Patriots. Not to be outdone, three years ago, Kyle Shanahan calls for a pass when three runs and a medium-range field goal (by the Falcons’ Pro Bowl kicker) would have won the game for the Falcons. This year, Tom doesn’t even MAKE the Super Bowl if Dee Ford doesn’t line up offsides late in the AFC Championship Game. And NONE of these things have anything whatever to do with either Tom’s strengths or deficiencies as a quarterback. Absent those three strokes of good luck on Tom’s part, and absent Peyton Manning’s stroke of bad luck, and Peyton has more points in my system (and possibly a third ring, which would under these circumstances MATCH Brady’s). The point of this entire paragraph is that there are so many things completely out of the control of a QB that “Super Bowls won” is a relatively poor way to rank QBs.

    OK, all of that said, here are the top 28 QBs as rated by my system:

    1. Tom Brady 42

    2. Peyton Manning 38

    3. Joe Montana 35

    4. Sammy Baugh 32
    5. Drew Brees 32

    6. Otto Graham 31

    7. Len Dawson 30
    8. Bart Starr 30

    9. Johnny Unitas 28
    10. Fran Tarkenton 28
    11. Sid Luckman 28

    12. Ben Roethlisberger 27

    13. Roger Staubach 24
    14. Aaron Rodgers 24

    15. Bob Griese 23
    16. Ken Anderson 23
    17. Brett Favre 23

    18. Steve Young 22
    19. Dan Marino 22

    20. Kurt Warner 20

    21. Y.A. Tittle 19
    22. Jim Kelly 19

    23. John Elway 18
    24. Charlie Conerly 18
    25. Philip Rivers 18

    26. Terry Bradshaw 17
    27. Norm Van Brocklin 17
    28. Dan Fouts 17

    Several observations and opinions: one, everyone on this list is either still playing or in the Hall-of-Fame save one–and he thus is, IMHO without question, the most underrated QB of all time: Ken Anderson. Anderson was an elite passer for a long time, but suffered by losing both of his Super Bowls and playing at the same time as Joe Montana. For the record, the far-and-away most OVER-rated QB of all time is Joe Namath, who gets 7 points in my system. Two, note that there are several QBs on the list currently playing, and the two toward the very top, Brady and Brees, have played longer than probably any of the old-timers. Since my system is cumulative rather than an average, today’s superior training techniques, etc., do mitigate a bit in favor of contemporary players. I see no way to compensate for this, though I suppose I could divide their total points by seasons-played and arrive at an average, but that’s too much work, and I do think there’s something to be said for longevity being SOME part of greatness. Had Otto Graham played five more years at a level at least near the one he established, there would be little discussion to be had: Otto would be the GOAT, hands-down. The fact that some of my readers might have never even heard of him ’tis indeed a pity. Of the top 40 in all-time passer rating, other than Graham, the oldest player retired in 1994 (Joe Montana). Otto (29th) retired almost FORTY YEARS EARLIER (1955). This is astonishing, and makes a good argument that Graham is the real GOAT. Note as well how highly Ben Roethlisberger ranks, 12th in my system and likely to jump into the top ten if he plays another year or two. He seems a certain Hall-of-Famer, but I doubt most people think of him as being this accomplished. But the fact is that he has played at a very high level for a good while and deserves his place among the elite. Most people don’t think of him as being better than Aaron Rodgers, and he may not be, but he’s certainly in his league (and has an extra ring, part of the reason he ranks a tad higher). Next, for the record, two active QBs who do not make this list are Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson. Each has 15 points and each would seem likely to finish in the 20s before they hang it up. That would seem to put each of them in line for the Hall, I would think, though particularly Ryan just doesn’t FEEL to me like a Hall-of-Famer. His ticket to Canton may come down to what he does from here on out. Finally, I was surprised to see Philip Rivers make this list. I do not see him as a Hall-of-Famer, but he is at least borderline. His lack of playoff success hurts him–but as I said above, I think that’s overrated.

    Finally, taking my system into account, but also remembering that it’s not perfect, and allowing for some subjectivity to creep in, here are my top-ten QBs of all time:

    1. Tom Brady
    2. Otto Graham
    3. Peyton Manning
    4. Joe Montana
    5. Johnny Unitas
    6. Sammy Baugh
    7. Drew Brees
    8. Bart Starr
    9. Len Dawson
    10. I didn’t see Sid Luckman play, and I didn’t ever like Fran Tarkenton, so who knows. MAYBE I’d stretch a good bit for Brett Favre?