Titletown Built On Superior Quarterback Play

No team in NFL history has enjoyed better play at the game's most important position than the Packers. Yes, Bart Starr, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers are great, but it runs much deeper. We examine the league's quarterback-rich franchises.

If you go by the universal belief that quarterback is the most important position in football, it stands to reason that the team with the best quarterbacks over the long haul will win the most championships.

And so it is with the Green Bay Packers, with their 13 championships outdistancing Chicago (nine), Cleveland (eight), the New York Giants (seven) and Pittsburgh (six).

It's an unscientific method, but FoxSports.com's "Franchise Players" page is a great starting point. In it, Fox lists five candidates for the best player in each franchise's history. The teams with two quarterbacks on the ballot:

Atlanta: Steve Bartkowski and Michael Vick.

Cincinnati: Ken Anderson and Boomer Esiason.

Cleveland: Bernie Kosar and Otto Graham.

Dallas: Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach.

Green Bay: Bart Starr and Brett Favre.

Indianapolis: Johnny Unitas and Peyton Manning.

New Orleans: Archie Manning and Drew Brees.

N.Y. Giants: Y.A. Tittle and Phil Simms.

San Francisco: Joe Montana and Steve Young.

Tennessee: Steve McNair and Warren Moon.

Washington: Sammy Baugh and Sonny Jurgensen.

You could make an argument that Starr and Favre are the best tandem. At worst, they'd rank third behind the Colts' Unitas and Manning and the 49ers' Montana and Young.

For argument's sake, let's go with Starr and Favre ranking behind those two tandems.

Nobody can match the Packers' other quarterbacks. Certainly not the Colts. Not even the 49ers, with Tittle, a Hall of Famer, and John Brodie, who retired as the third-leading passer in NFL history.

Aaron Rodgers, with a Super Bowl MVP and the lowest interception rate in NFL history, has a tremendous resume and is undoubtedly on a Hall of Fame progression. Look deeper, though, and the Packers have enjoyed a stunning run of superb quarterback play.

Green Bay native Arnie Herber, with the great Don Hutson catching passes, led the NFL in passing three times and guided the Packers to championships in 1930, 1931, 1936 and 1939. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1966. Not bad for a guy whose original role with the Packers was handyman in the team clubhouse.

Cecil Isbell, who also had Hutson at his disposal, was selected to four Pro Bowls during his too-brief five-year career. He set an NFL record with 1,479 passing yards in 1941, then shattered that mark with 2,021 yards and a record 24 touchdowns in 1942. The 24 TDs stood as a team record until Lynn Dickey threw 32 scoring strikes a stunning 41 years later. He threw a touchdown pass in 22 consecutive games, a team record that stood until Favre broke it in 2003. Isbell retired after his record-setting 1942 campaign to take over as head coach at Purdue, with only the length of his career keeping him out of the Hall of Fame.

Between Isbell and Starr, Tobin Rote was a star on some bad teams. In 1956, he led the league with 2,203 passing yards and 18 touchdowns. He also finished second in rushing touchdowns with 11, with his 29 touchdowns being an NFL record for a 12-game season. Shipped to Detroit in 1957, Rote outperformed Bobby Layne as Detroit won the NFL title.

After Starr, the Packers suffered through a quarterback drought until Lynn Dickey put up some prolific numbers from 1980 through 1985, including a franchise-record 4,458 yards in 1983. Even Don Majkowski had one monster season, with 4,318 yards and 27 touchdowns during the memorable 1989 season.

All told, Starr and Herber are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Favre will join them, Isbell might have if not for retiring early and Rodgers is right on track. Herber, Isbell, Rote, Starr, Dickey and Majkowski are in the Packers Hall of Fame.

With the greatest run of quarterback play in NFL history, it's no wonder that Green Bay is known as Titletown.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.

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