Top five all-time NFL quarterbacks

Favre ranks second behind Joe Montana

The NFL has produced dozens of great quarterbacks over it's long history. Trying to rate them is a very difficult task. The whole process is very subjective. A number of factors figure into the criteria. How many championships did the QB win? What were the overall stats of the QB over his career? How many times did that QB's team win? How many times did the QB bring his team back from certain defeat late in a game? How consistent was the QB over his career? What was the QB's endurance level over his career? As you can see, there are several things to consider as I try and rank the 5 best NFL QBs ever. That being said, here we go:

1.) Joe Montana
Montana won 4 Super Bowls. He also NEVER threw an interception in a Super Bowl game.

Montana is also the all-time leader in post-season TD passes and passing yardage. Montana also has the best winning percentage in NFL regular season history, as his teams won 71% of the games he started. Montana also threw 273 TD passes in his career, compared to 139 interceptions.

Also, like a number of QBs on this list, Montana had a penchant for bringing his team back late in games. The best example was the late TD drive he engineered against the Bengals in Super Bowl XXXIII, as the 49ers came back to win 20-16. Montana was also a 2 time MVP in the NFL, as well as being a 3 time MVP in the Super Bowl.

2.) Brett Favre
Favre has one Super Bowl win, while just narrowly losing in his other Super Bowl appearance. Favre is on pace to break a number of incredible records. He has thrown 376 TD passes, second only to Dan Marino's 420 TD passes. Favre also has won 135 regular season games which is 3rd all-time behind only Marino at 147 wins and John Elway at 148 wins. Favre's most impressive stat might be his consecutive games started streak. Favre has started a mind boggling 205 consecutive games, 225, if you include the playoffs.

Another impressive factor going for Favre is the fact that he has NEVER led a team to a losing season in his career. In terms of consistency, Favre has thrown for 30 or more TDs in a season 8 times, while he has thrown for over 3,000 yards in a season 13 consecutive seasons. Favre has also brought his team back from from a tie or deficit in the 4th quarter 34 times. Favre is second all-time in post-season TD passes and third in passing yardage.

Favre is also the only three-time MVP in league history.

3.) Johnny Unitas
Unitas was the QB that really made the NFL what it is today. The 1958 NFL championship game was THE game that changed the perception of the NFL to sports fans throughout the country. In that game, Unitas lead his Baltimore Colts to a 23-17 win against the New York Giants in the first overtime game ever in the NFL.

Unitas won three championships with the Colts, including Super Bowl V. Unitas put up some very good numbers in his career as he threw 290 TD passes. Unitas was a master technician late in a game, with the 1958 championship game as the best example.

Unitas also was league MVP two times.

4.) John Elway
Elway played in five Super Bowls, winning two. Elway was named Super Bowl MVP in the last game he ever played. Elway is the all-time leader in regular season wins by a QB in NFL history with 148.

Elway threw for 300 TD passes in his career, which is 4th all-time. Elway is 2nd only to Dan Marino in career passing yardage with 51,475 yards. Like the other QBs on this list, Elway was a master in bringing his team back. The most memorable instance was "the drive" in the 1986 AFC championship game. Elway led the Broncos on a 98 yard drive late in that game as Denver defeated the Browns 23-20. Elway also was a league MVP.

5.) Dan Marino
Marino played in one Super Bowl, losing to Joe Montana and the 49ers in Super Bowl XIX 38-16. In terms of records, nobody was more prolific than Marino. Marino is the all-time leader in TD passes with 420. Marino is also the all-time leader in passing yardage with 61,361 yards.

Marino is also the all-time completions leader with 4,967. Marino is second only to Elway in all-time regular season wins with 147.

There are a lot of QBs that deserve consideration on this list. There are the QBs that won multiple championships like Bart Starr with 5 titles, Terry Bradshaw with 4 and Otto Graham, Troy Aikman and Tom Brady with 3. Then there is Fran Tarkenton. Tarkenton put up some monster numbers and he also revolutionized the QB position with his scrambling ability. Steve Young is the all-time best rated QB in NFL history. Young had over a 2-1 ratio in TD passes vs interceptions and he threw 6 TD passes in a Super Bowl game. Roger Staubach won 2 championships with Dallas and led the NFL in passing 5 times. Warren Moon threw 291 TD passes. Jim Kelly led the Buffalo Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls. There are also the young guns of today like Peyton Manning and Daunte Culpepper that may one day join this elite group. There is always plenty of debate when talking about the best ever QBs in NFL history. I'm sure there will be some differing opinions on this list. But no matter where you rank these great QBs, the NFL and the fans of the NFL, are better off because of them.

Editor's note: Bob Fox is a freelance writer and longtime Packers fan from the Tampa, FL area.


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