Quality QB equals Super Bowl quality team

The Vikings are still waiting on an answer from Brett Favre, but a look at the recent and past history of Super Bowl champions shows why they are willing to wait. After a brief respite of the Super Bowl winners not having great quarterbacks, the trend has returned.

If 2009 taught Vikings fans anything, it was the importance a quality quarterback can have on team success.

The Vikings haven't been to a Super Bowl since the end of the 1976 season – a 35-year drought that has become one of the longest in NFL history. Over the last quarter-century, the Vikings have been in just three NFC Championship Games. They got there in large part behind the play of quarterbacks Randall Cunningham, Daunte Culpepper and Brett Favre. All three had Pro Bowl seasons and were instrumental in their teams making a run for the elusive championship that has avoided the Vikings over the years.

In the nine years in between championship game appearances, the Vikings have had a quarterback carousel that has included Culpepper, Todd Bouman, Spergon Wynn, Gus Frerotte, Brad Johnson, Tarvaris Jackson, Brooks Bollinger and Kelly Holcomb. Do you think that is mere coincidence? It isn't.

A look around the league would tell you it has become very rare that a team advances to the Super Bowl without having a great quarterback. Over the last six years, the list of quarterbacks in the Super Bowl has been a who's who at the position. The list includes Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Kurt Warner, Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Matt Hasselbeck and Donovan McNabb. Of the quarterbacks that led their teams to a Super Bowl, the only one that wasn't viewed as a top-end starter was Rex Grossman of the Bears, who many contend was the biggest impediment to Chicago winning the Super Bowl.

This wasn't always the case. Prior to the NFL becoming more of a pass-happy league, teams could get to the Super Bowl and even win without having an elite quarterback. Super Bowl XXXVIII included Jake Delhomme of the Panthers. The year before that, it was a battle of former Vikings when Brad Johnson and the Bucs beat Rich Gannon and the Raiders. In Super Bowl XXXV, Trent Dilfer and Kerry Collins battled it out, but neither was the reason their teams made the Super Bowl.

It would seem that what we've seen over the last five or six years was a return to what has been a Super Bowl staple – an unquestioned QB leader setting the pace. A look at the Super Bowl champions of the 1990s cemented the belief that a top QB is required to win a title. In that decade, the champions had QBs like Warner, John Elway, Favre, Troy Aikman and Steve Young. During the entire decade, the only QBs to win a Super Bowl that didn't have a Hall of Fame QB were the Redskins (Mark Rypien) and the Giants (Jeff Hostetler). Even losing teams in the Super Bowl had top-end QBs, including Hall of Famer Jim Kelly four times.

The history of the NFL has been that top teams have top-echelon quarterbacks. It began with Bart Starr, Joe Namath and Len Dawson in the 1960s, Roger Staubach, Bob Griese and Terry Bradshaw in the 1970s and Joe Montana in the 1980s. History tells us that it is difficult if not improbable for teams to win without an elite signal-caller.

Can the Vikings win with Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson as their quarterbacks in 2010? Sure, but much more likely they could win a division title, not a Super Bowl title. After a brief respite from the ironclad requirement of having an elite quarterback to win a championship, it would seem those days have returned and the Vikings' best hope is that Favre comes back. Fewer indicators to Super Bowl success have been more evident than the talent level of quarterbacks to overall team success. The Vikings can and might win without Favre, but the odds are against them if No. 4 doesn't return for an epic 20th season.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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