The long debated topic around the league and NFL fans for years. Who's the best signal caller of all time? My answer? It's impossible to say for certain. There are way too many variables involved. Some of the names that have been mentioned are Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Joe Montana, Troy Aikman, Dan Marino, John Elway, and many others. Each quarterback has his own unique skill set and many times they flourish because of the system they are in. Let's look at an example.
Kurt Warner came from bagging groceries to lead the St Louis Rams to two Super Bowls, one of which he was successful in winning. They ran a spread offense with a hybrid running back and fast receivers, and were dubbed the "Fastest Show on Turf". Warner then took his talents to New York, where he was an average QB at best with the Giants. He then went to the Cardinals, where they implemented the same spread type offense he ran with the Rams and he was able to take them to the Super Bowl for the first time in Franchise history. Kurt Warner is now retired and will most likely be a first ballot hall of famer. Do you think he would get this recognition if he played in the Giants scheme his entire career? Probably not.
I've discussed Tom Brady numerous times about being a system quarterback that would've never been in this conversation if he was drafted anywhere else in the league. Belichick is a genius and knows how to get the most out of his players, and has made Brady one of the best ever. Being drafted late to a good team isn't always a bad thing, you just have to wait for your opportunity. Look at Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith. I'm not saying Smith is anywhere near as good as Rodgers, but if Rodgers were drafted first overall instead of Smith, he would not have a Super Bowl ring right now.
Troy Aikman was a "good" quarterback, but look at the talent that surrounded him in Dallas. John Elway couldn't get the job done until he got a legitimate running game with Terrell Davis.
Let's look at some of the guys that have legitimate arguments to be mentioned in this category. Peyton Manning is arguably the smartest QB to ever play the game. He can dissect a defense and change the play at the line of scrimmage better than anyone. His issue has been winning big games, which he only has one Super Bowl title to his name.
You won't hear me mention guys from the 60's and 70's because the league is totally different now. The athletes are bigger and faster, the schemes are a lot harder to learn and recognize, and there's more pressure to perform due to endorsements and other outside deals. Johnny Unitas may have been the best...in his era. But I really don't think he would have been able to compete against today's athletes.
Dan Marino put up great numbers because he had to throw the ball every down. Can you name a running back that lined up behind Marino during his career? Brett Favre holds every record imaginable, because he played for 40 years! He had his great moments, but he made way too many costly mistakes to be considered the greatest ever. Terry Bradshaw is a lot like Tom Brady. Neither of them were very athletic but they were surrounded by a strong cast and great coaching, and made plays when they needed to. As a result, they've combined for seven Super Bowl titles.
Joe Montana wasn't real athletic in his own right, but this guy knew how to win. They had some amazing talent on those 49er teams, but no one was more clutch in big games than Joe Cool.
After looking at film and reviewing statistics, it's impossible to say who the greatest QB is. Variables like era played in, supporting cast, coaching staff, system played in, and many other factors need to be weighed in and evaluated.
I believe if you take Peyton Manning's intelligence, Tom Brady's accuracy, Joe Montana's calm demeanor and clutch play, Michael Vick's speed, Drew Brees' deep ball, and Dan Marino's swagger, you will then have the ultimate quarterback.
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