We’re about to rank the 50 greatest quarterbacks to ever sling it on the gridiron. From the old-school legends to today’s gridiron gladiators, these QBs have defined eras, shattered records, and left us in awe with their jaw-dropping plays.
50. Drew Bledsoe
Unfortunately for Drew Bledsoe, his career may be remembered most for losing his job to a man named Tom Brady. Before an injury allowed Brady to secure the job from Bledsoe, the talented quarterback started 123 games for the Patriots between 1993 and 2001. Bledsoe was a three-time Pro Bowler with the Pats — twice leading the league in completions (’94, ’97). The Washington native would go on to earn a fourth Pro Bowl bid while with the Buffalo Bills before ultimately finishing his playing career with the Cowboys.
49. Doug Williams
After spending the first five seasons of his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Doug Williams joined the Washington Redskins and promptly made NFL history. In 1987, Williams made two regular season starts — and lost both. Despite the losses, Williams was given the offensive reigns when the Redskins entered the playoffs. Williams rewarded coach Joe Gibbs’ faith and led Washington to a 42-10 victory over John Elway and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII. Williams finished the contest 18-of-29 for 340 yards and four scores — making history as the first African-American starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl.
48. Dave Krieg
Before Russell Wilson arrived on the scene, Dave Krieg was arguably the franchise’s premier quarterback. From 1980-91, Krieg went 70-49 in 119 starts and earned three Pro Bowl nods. After a long 19-year career, Krieg had a record of 98-77 and tossed 261 touchdown passes versus 199 interceptions. He may never have been the best quarterback in the league, but Krieg did enough to warrant the franchise adding him to its Ring of Honor.
47. Bob Griese
Two-time Super Bowl champ, two-time All-Pro, eight-time Pro Bowler — how could Bob Griese not make this list? Despite making two Pro Bowls through his first three seasons, Griese’s Dolphins struggled to a 10-20-2 record in his first 32 starts. However, over the next five years, Griese flipped the switch. The quarterback led Miami to a 46-11-1 mark, was elected to four more Pro Bowls and won two Super Bowls. While his overall numbers weren’t great, there is no denying a quarterback who won 92-of-151 career starts.
46. Ken Stabler
Let’s get this out of the way first — Ken Stabler had an electric mustache and a glorious mop of hair. The lefty from Alabama also had a rather nice career. Famous for his time with the Raiders, Stabler led Oakland to the playoffs six times. In 1976, Stabler led his squad to a Super Bowl victory over the Minnesota Vikings. In addition to the win, Stabler led the NFL in passing touchdowns and passer rating in ’76 — two years removed from winning the MVP and leading the league in passing TDs for the first time. Stabler’s accomplishments led to his Hall of Fame induction in 2016.
45. Joe Theismann
Joe Theismann enjoyed a very nice career before a devastating tackle by Lawrence Taylor permanently sent him to the sidelines. A Super Bowl champion in 1982 and MVP in ’83, Theismann suffered a compound fracture of the tibia and fibula in his right leg on that fateful play. Before the injury, Theismann had done it all. After leading Washington to glory in ’82, he quarterbacked the ‘Skins to a 14-2 record the following year. For his career, Theismann went 77-47 and threw for over 25,000 yards.
44. Roman Gabriel
Let’s take a moment to soak in the image above. Look how beautiful — and simple — Roman Gabriel’s uniform is (unlike the hideous logo the Rams are trotting out in 2020). Now that that is out of the way, let’s get into Gabriel the player. Spending most of his career with the Rams, Gabriel was elected to four Pro Bowls, led the league in passing touchdowns on two occasions (1969, ’73), passing yards in ’73, and took home the ’69 MVP. During his MVP campaign, Gabriel threw for 2,549 yards and tossed 24 TDs and just seven interceptions. From 1967-69, the Ram great led the franchise to a 32-7-3 mark.
43. Phil Simms
A majority of the younger football audience may recognize Phil Simms as ‘that guy on TV’. But long before Simms became a mainstay on network television, the Kentucky native led the New York Giants to a Super Bowl victory in 1986. In three games that postseason Simms completed 65.5 percent of his passes for 494 yards and eight touchdowns. The two-time champ started eight games between 1991-92, but then had a triumphant comeback in ’93 — at 38 years old, Simms led the Giants to an 11-5 record and a Wild Card victory over the Vikings.
42. Mark Brunell
Originally drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1993, Mark Brunell would later become the Jacksonville Jaguars’ inaugural quarterback when the team entered the NFL in 1995. Brunell would lead Jacksonville to the postseason four times — reaching the Conference Championship twice. To this day, Brunell is Jacksonville’s all-time leading passer with 25,698 yards and 144 touchdowns.
41. Tony Romo
Before his blossoming career in broadcasting began, Tony Romo was a highly efficient quarterback for nearly a decade. Drafted in 2004, Romo spent two years on Dallas’ bench before taking over as the starting QB. Romo started 10 games in ’06 and earned his first Pro Bowl nod. From ’07-14, Romo threw 223 TD passes to just 97 INT’s. As a 34-year-old, No. 9 led the NFL in completion percentage (69.9), yards per attempt (8.5), passer rating (113.2) and QBR (79.7). Romo wasn’t able to win the biggest games, but there is no denying his talent.
40. Rich Gannon
A fourth-round pick out of Delaware, Rich Gannon exceeded all expectations in the NFL. The first 11 years of Gannon’s career were mediocre. Splitting time between Minnesota, Washington and Kansas City, Gannon made 58 starts and threw 66 touchdown passes. However, upon joining the Raiders in 1999, Gannon turned into a stud. Gannon went on a four-year tear in Oakland — accumulating 15,787 yards and 105 TDs. Gannon was named MVP in ’02, thanks to 4,689 passing yards and an 11-5 record. Gannon would go on to lead the Raiders to the Super Bowl in what turned out to be his last healthy season as a pro.
39. Cam Newton
Cam Newton is one of the most intimidating quarterbacks of all-time, hands down. Although Newton’s prowess through the air was questioned at times throughout his career, you can’t argue with the results. Newton’s imposing 6-foot-5, 245-pound frame tormented defenses since his debut in 2011. In ’15, Newton led the Panthers to a 15-1 regular season and a Super Bowl appearance. That season, ‘Superman’ tossed 35 TD passes and netted 3,837 yards in the air — in addition to rushing for 636 yards and 10 scores.
38. Randall Cunningham
Remarkably, Randall Cunningham lasted 16 years in the NFL. Drafted by the Eagles in 1985, Cunningham served as a punching bag for the first six years of his career. In his second year, the four-time Pro Bowler was sacked 72 times — despite making only five starts. Over the next four years, Cunningham would lead Philadelphia to a 38-22 record. In lieu of being sacked 51 times per season, Cunningham connected on 98 TD passes and rushed for 18 more. One of the first true dual-threat QBs, Cunningham rushed for nearly 2,700 yards between ’87-90.
37. Carson Palmer
After winning the Heisman Trophy following his senior year at USC, Carson Palmer was selected No. 1 overall in the 2002 NFL Draft. Almost immediately upon his arrival in Cincinnati, Palmer appeared destined for a great career. In Year 2, Palmer led the NFL with 32 TDs and a 67.8 completion percentage.
Unfortunately for Palmer and the Bengals, Palmer suffered a torn ACL and MCL in Cincy’s playoff game against the Steelers. It took Palmer a few years to regain his form, but boy did he ever. In 2015, at the age of 36, Palmer threw for 4,671 yards and 35 TDs for the 13-3 Arizona Cardinals. In total, Palmer threw for over 46,000 yards and 294 touchdowns.
36. Philip Rivers
Upon joining the then-San Diego Chargers, Philip Rivers spent two years on the bench watching some guy named Drew Brees. Then, in ’06, Rivers was named the starting QB and promptly led the Bolts to a 14-2 regular season. Rivers spent the first 16 years of his career with the Chargers…
…but at the age of 39 joined the Indianapolis Colts for one final season. Rivers hung up his cleats with 63,440 passing yards, 421 touchdown passes, and eight Pro Bowl nods to his name. The only thing missing from Rivers’ resume is a Super Bowl win.
35. Boomer Esiason
Drafted in the second round by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1984, Boomer Esiason quickly showcased his NFL potential. By the mid-80s, Esiason was lighting up defenses with his unique left-handed delivery. In 1988, his performance hit a pinnacle: Boomer led the Bengals to Super Bowl XXIII and was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player, a testament to his prowess.
While the Bengals narrowly missed out on Super Bowl glory against the 49ers, Esiason’s impact on the game was undeniable. After stints with the New York Jets and the Arizona Cardinals, he returned to Cincinnati to cap off his career. Throughout his time in the league, Esiason amassed an impressive 37,920 passing yards and 247 touchdowns.
34. Matt Ryan
Emerging from Boston College as a hot prospect, Matt Ryan was snatched up by the Atlanta Falcons with the third overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. Right out of the gate, “Matty Ice” lived up to his nickname, bringing a cool, clutch presence to the Falcons’ offense. In his rookie year, he led Atlanta to the playoffs, signaling the dawn of a new era for the franchise.
Ryan’s apex came in 2016 when he not only spearheaded the Falcons to Super Bowl LI but also earned the NFL MVP award, thanks to a season where he threw for a whopping 4,944 yards and 38 touchdowns. If he and the Falcons were able to hold on to their 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl, Ryan’s legacy would be a lot stronger. Overall, Ryan threw for over 62,000 yards and tossed 381 TDs.
33. Steve McNair
Steve McNair parlayed a historic collegiate career at Alcorn State into becoming the No. 3 overall pick in the 1995 NFL Draft. With the Titans, McNair quickly established himself as one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the game. In 1997, his first year as the starting QB, McNair rushed for 674 yards and eight touchdowns.
McNair would lead the Titans to four playoff appearances — including a run to the Super Bowl in 1999, in which the Titans came a yard short of forcing overtime. In ’03, McNair and Peyton Manning were named co-MVPs. McNair’s achievement was amplified by the fact that he became the youngest player in NFL history to pass for 20,000 yards (22,637) and rush for 3,000 (3,172).
32. Y.A. Tittle
Tittle’s Hall of Fame career began with the Baltimore Colts of the soon-to-be-defunct All-America Football Conference. After three seasons with Baltimore, Tittle was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 1951. Tittle spent 10 years in San Francisco, earning Pro Bowl honors four times and at one time sharing a backfield with three future Hall of Famers.
Despite playing with one of the most decorated backfields of all-time, Tittle became a legend with his next team, the New York Giants. In 1961, the Giants acquired Tittle from the 49ers in exchange for a second-year guard. In his first three seasons in New York, Tittle led the Giants to the NFL Championship. After being demolished 37-0 by the Green Bay Packers in 1961, Tittle threw 33 touchdowns in 1962 en route to another meeting with the Packers. New year, same result. The Packers won 16-7.
Tittle’s penultimate season of his career, 1963, was his best. He threw for a single-season record of 36 touchdowns while earning league MVP honors. However, Tittle produced his worst performance of the year in the Championship, throwing five interceptions on a bum knee, resulting in a 14-10 loss to the Chicago Bears. While Tittle was never able to capture a championship victory, he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1971.
31. Sid Luckman
He may have played his last game in 1950, but Sid Luckman was a true beast. Spending the entirety of his career with the Bears, Luckman helped bring four NFL titles to Chicago. In totality, Luckman appeared in five championship games. In 1943, Luckman tossed 28 TD passes and averaged an astounding 11 yards per attempt and 20 yards per completion. That same year, Luckman found the end zone on an NFL-record 13.9 percent of his pass attempts. Five-time All-Pro, four-time NFL champion, Hall of Fame. Luckman may be the best quarterback you’ve never heard of.
30. Ken Anderson
Seven years before Boomer Esiason won MVP honors and led the Bengals to a Super Bowl showdown against the 49ers, Ken Anderson accomplished the exact feat. A third-round pick in 1971, Anderson became Cincinnati’s starting QB in just his second year. Shortly after, Anderson found himself leading the league in passing yards (’74, ’75) and completion percentage (’74). Anderson’s game peaked in ’81 when he led the Bengals to a 12-4 record and a narrow defeat in Super Bowl XVI. Still, Anderson’s 3,754 passing yards and 29 TDs that year led to his lone MVP.
29. Len Dawson
Perhaps the best quarterback to play in the AFL, Len Dawson was an absolute star. After throwing a total of 45 passes through his first five years in football, Dawson exploded in 1962 with the Dallas Texans. In addition to leading the AFL in completion percentage (61.0) and TDs (29), Dawson led the Texans to the AFL title — his first of three. From ’62-69, Dawson led the league in completion percentage seven times and TDs four times. Dawson then capped his career with a Super Bowl MVP effort in Super Bowl IV.
28. Donovan McNabb
Had a few games gone differently during McNabb’s career, there is a good chance he’d be pushing the top-20 of this list. In his first year as Philadelphia’s starting quarterback, McNabb finished second in MVP voting, leading the Eagles to the playoffs before being sent home by the Giants. The following year, McNabb led the Eagles to their first NFC Championship game since 1980.
From ’01-04, the McNabb-led Eagles reached the NFC Championship Game four consecutive years, ultimately falling short in their first three attempts. ’04 finally resulted in the breakthrough the Eagles were waiting for, as McNabb torched the competition on the way to Super Bowl XXXIX.
McNabb threw for 31 TDs and had only eight INTs during the regular season, becoming the first NFL quarterback to throw for more than 30 TDs with less than 10 INTs in a season. His talented Eagles squad didn’t win a championship, but advancing to four consecutive NFC Championships is no small feat. At the end of the day, McNabb should find himself in the Hall of Fame.
27. Eli Manning
There is a case to be made that without the two Super Bowl victories, Eli would be seen as a slightly above-average quarterback, but you can’t knock his durability and knack for clutch plays. In Manning’s two Super Bowl appearances, he led last-minute game-winning drives against the New England Patriots. The drives will ultimately be remembered by the two miraculous catches, but Manning was able to keep plays alive and make all the necessary throws to win.
26. Kurt Warner
Undrafted out of Northern Iowa, Warner was working at a grocery store before the St. Louis Rams came calling. A 28-year-old, Warner left the store behind and led the Rams to a Super Bowl victory in 1999 — where he also earned Super Bowl MVP honors. In the process, Warner won the MVP while leading the NFL in completion percentage (65.1) and TDs (41). In 2001, Warner won his second MVP and came within seconds of a second championship. At 37, Warner led the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl — a narrow loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
25. Russell Wilson
Hailing from NC State and later Wisconsin, Russell Wilson entered the NFL as the Seattle Seahawks’ third-round pick in 2012. Despite doubts surrounding his height, Wilson quickly silenced critics, showcasing a dynamic playstyle that blended pocket presence with nimble footwork. By his second season, Wilson had led the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl victory in franchise history, cementing himself as one of the league’s premier talents. Wilson’s ability to extend plays and conjure moments of magic, often when it mattered most, became his trademark.
24. Joe Namath
“Broadway Joe” is easily one of the most recognizable players in the history of football. Known for his charisma, bold proclamations and his victory guarantee in Super Bowl III, Namath’s numbers don’t tell the whole story about his greatness. Following a great collegiate career at Alabama, Namath led the Jets to an AFL Championship in 1968. The next year, shortly before the AFL/NFL merger, Namath made his famous guarantee. In 1969, Namath and the Jets, from the AFL, defeated Don Shula’s Baltimore Colts, from the NFL, in Super Bowl III.
23. Dan Fouts
Before settling into the broadcast booth, Fouts was one of the most prolific passers in NFL history. Fouts became just the third player ever to pass for more than 40,000 yards in a career — leading the league in passing each year from ’79-82, which included a then single-season passing record with 4,802 yards during the ’81 season. Although the Chargers never reached the Super Bowl with Fouts under center, he did lead them to two AFC Championship Games. Fouts had his #14 retired by the Chargers in 1988 and was enshrined in Canton as a part of the Class of 1993.
22. Lamar Jackson
Jackson is well on his way to a Hall of Fame career. Winning a second MVP puts him in rare air. Only ten players in league history have won multiple league MVPs. Jackson’s first came back in 2019 — his first full year as a starter. Defenses have had no answer for him ever since. Jackson has established himself as the premier dual-threat QB in NFL history. He’s well on his way to shattering the record for most career rushing yards by a QB, while also being one of the league’s top passers (Jackson’s 98.0 career passer rating ranks ninth all-time). As a starter in the regular season, the Ravens have won nearly 75-percent of their games when Jackson is under center. Still just 27 years old, a couple of memorable playoff runs could have Jackson vaulting even further up this list.
21. Ben Roethlisberger
In one of the most confusing career arcs in NFL history, Ben Roethlisberger went from phenomenal to terrible and then back to phenomenal throughout his 18 seasons. With two Super Bowl titles under his belt, Roethlisberger left the game a true Pittsburgh legend. One of the best quarterbacks at extending plays and improvising in NFL history, Roethlisberger’s deceptive agility and incredible arm strength ensure a spot in Canton.
20. Otto Graham
Dominating during an era that is often forgotten in the confines of NFL history, Otto Graham and the Cleveland Browns couldn’t be stopped from 1946-55. Reaching the league championship every year in that span, Graham was the biggest reason why. He holds the record for the highest win percentage of any starting quarterback in NFL history (0.814), with Cleveland finishing 114-20-4 in games started by Graham. As an efficient passer and the ultimate winner, Graham would have gained even more notoriety had he played during the Super Bowl era.
19. Sammy Baugh
Sammy Baugh’s passing numbers certainly won’t blow anyone away, but it was his unmatched versatility that makes him worthy of this ranking. In addition to playing quarterback, Baugh also played defensive back and punted for the Washington Redskins. In 1943, Baugh led the league in passing, punting and interceptions (as a defensive back) – a feat that will never be repeated.
18. Bart Starr
The winning quarterback of the first two Super Bowls in NFL history, Bart Starr was named the Most Valuable Player of both games. He owns the second-highest playoff passer rating (104.8) of all-time and finished his career 9-1 in the postseason. Playing in the run-first era certainly deflated Starr’s stats, but there’s no denying his place as one of the best and winningest quarterbacks in NFL history.
17. Fran Tarkenton
Fran Tarkenton played 18 seasons for the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants, finishing as one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in NFL history. When he retired in 1978, he was the all-time leader in pass attempts, completions, passing yards, passing touchdowns, rushing yards by a quarterback and wins by a starting quarterback. Although Tarkenton was never able to bring a Super Bowl title to either franchise he played for, his excellence made him a no-brainer to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986.
16. Terry Bradshaw
Contrary to the next player on this list, Terry Bradshaw cracks the top-20 for his ability to win on the NFL’s biggest stage. Bradshaw was far from a prolific passer during the days of Pittsburgh’s smash-mouth brand of football (only threw for more than 3,000 yards in a season twice), but he finished a perfect 4-0 in games with the Lombardi Trophy on the line. Despite the uninspiring touchdown-to-interception ratio (212:210) and a 51.9 percent completion percentage, Bradshaw’s induction into the Hall of Fame in 1989 is well deserved.
15. Jim Kelly
While Jim Kelly will (unfairly) best be remembered for his 0-4 record in Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills, Kelly was one of the premier quarterbacks during his 11-year career. Kelly teamed with Andre Reed to form one of the most potent quarterback-wide receiver duos in NFL history and finished with a 101-59 record in the regular season. In 2002, his first year of eligibility, Kelly was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
14. Roger Staubach
After winning the Heisman Trophy following his junior season at Navy, Staubach’s NFL career was delayed while he served his four-year military commitment. First starting a game at 29, Staubach went on to lead the Cowboys to two Super Bowl victories in five appearances from 1970-78. ‘Captain America’ captured the ’71 MVP and Super Bowl VI MVP, and is a member of both the College Football Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame.
13. Warren Moon
The first undrafted quarterback to make the Hall of Fame, Moon had an illustrious career in both the NFL and CFL. After winning five Grey Cups in the CFL, Moon started a Hall of Fame career in the NFL with the Houston Oilers. Following nine Pro Bowl appearances, Moon retired finishing in the top-five in passing yards, TDs, attempts, and completions. If Moon’s statistics from the CFL and NFL were combined, his numbers would be almost unmatched in the history of football. In 2006, Moon became the first African American quarterback to be enshrined in Canton.
12. Troy Aikman
The No. 1 pick out of UCLA in 1989, Aikman quarterbacked the great Dallas dynasty of the early 90s. Aikman led the Cowboys to a 32-17 trouncing of the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII, completing 22-of-30 passes for 273 yards and four TDs. Aikman then led the Cowboys to two more Super Bowls in the next three years, capped off by a 27-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX. Aikman amassed over 32,000 yards and 165 TDs in 12 seasons, ending his career with a 3-0 record in the Super Bowl. Unfortunately for Aikman, his Hall of Fame career was cut short in 2001 following his tenth concussion.
11. Steve Young
Known as one of the greatest dual-threat quarterbacks in NFL history, Steve Young had the nearly impossible task of replacing Joe Montana in San Francisco. However, the BYU alum filled the void admirably, winning two MVP awards and a Super Bowl MVP during his eight years as the franchise’s leader. In addition to his prowess as a passer, Young sits sixth all-time among quarterbacks with 4,239 career rushing yards but still falls just short of cracking the top-10 on this list.
10. Johnny Unitas
Once the gold standard for NFL quarterbacks, ‘The Golden Arm’ was a three-time MVP, three-time NFL champion, and the winning quarterback of Super Bowl V. Unitas set the record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass (47) between 1956-60 — a mark that stood until Drew Brees surpassed the record in 2012. Unitas still ranks 1tth all-time with 290 touchdown passes. His performance in the two-minute drill garnered him the nickname ‘Mr. Clutch,’ and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979.
9. Drew Brees
Playing in the same era alongside Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, Brees went underappreciated throughout his brilliant career. Brees is one of only nine quarterbacks to throw for at least 5,000 passing yards in a season, and he has accomplished the feat five times (no other quarterback has done it more than twice). Despite being short for the position, Brees’ combination of impeccable footwork and precision makes him a surefire Hall of Famer. In addition to 13 Pro Bowl nods and a Super Bowl ring, Brees currently stands as the second all-time leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns.
8. Brett Favre
The ultimate gunslinger, Favre holds NFL records for most pass completions, attempts, interceptions, starts, and wins. The only quarterback to win three consecutive MVPs, Favre is one of only two quarterbacks to win a playoff game over the age of 40. A Super Bowl champion, Favre ranks fourth all-time with 508 TD passes. For all of the personal accolades, Favre’s most impressive achievement might be his durability, as seen during his NFL-record 321 consecutive starts.
7. Dan Marino
The greatest quarterback to never win a Super Bowl, Marino held the record for most touchdown passes (420) and most career completions (4,967) when he retired. In Marino’s 1984 MVP season, the Dolphins made their only Super Bowl appearance under Marino, losing to the Joe Montana-led 49ers 38-16. During his MVP season, the nine-time Pro Bowler became the first quarterback to throw for over 5,000 yards in a single season, as well as the first to surpass 40 touchdown passes in a season. To go along with his rocket arm, Marino arguably possessed the quickest release the league has ever seen.
6. Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers’ nimbleness in the pocket, unbelievable precision, and rocket arm might make him the most talented quarterback the NFL has ever seen. In 15 seasons as the Green Bay Packers’ starting quarterback, Rodgers amassed over 55,000 passing yards and 475 passing touchdowns (with only 105 interceptions).
However, that production hasn’t necessarily translated into postseason success. With only one Lombardi Trophy over his 19 seasons, it led to plenty of friction with the Green Bay front office, and ultimately, a trade to the New York Jets. Though Rodgers was being touted as the Jets’ savior, he tore his Achilles in Week 1 versus the Buffalo Bills — thus ending his 2023 season abruptly.
5. Peyton Manning
Arguably the greatest regular season quarterback ever, Manning cemented his place among the game’s elite by capturing his second Super Bowl ring in Super Bowl 50. Manning retired a five-time MVP, holding the NFL records for most touchdowns (539) and passing yards (71,940) — which have since been eclipsed. Manning came off serious neck surgery to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2012 with the Denver Broncos.
A 14-time Pro Bowl selection, Manning’s one knock has always been his play in the postseason. And although his performance in Super Bowl 50 was rather underwhelming, the second ring will go a long way in helping elevate his legacy.
4. John Elway
The storybook ending to a Hall of Fame career, Elway capped his legacy by winning back-to-back Super Bowls — defeating the Packers and Falcons. The ultimate dual-threat, Elway rushed for four touchdowns in his Super Bowl appearances. Tom Brady is the only quarterback to best Elway’s five Super Bowl appearances, and he ranks among the top five in the four major passing categories (completions, attempts, yards, touchdowns).
His 14 playoff wins stand amongst the best in the game, and his all-time winning percentage of .641 shows his greatness. Elway has followed his Hall of Fame career by leading the Broncos to four division titles, two AFC Championships and a Super Bowl title as Executive VP/GM of the Broncos.
3. Patrick Mahomes
Entering his prime at 28 and completing his sixth full season as a starting quarterback, Mahomes’ legacy remains enigmatic. Despite a mere 96 regular-season starts, consensus veers toward Mahomes being entrenched in the upper echelon of NFL signal-callers. Bursting onto the scene in 2018, Mahomes dazzled with a staggering 5,097 passing yards and 50 touchdowns, clinching the MVP honor in his debut season as a starter.
While his sophomore campaign showcased a tempered performance, the Kansas City signal-caller continued to post impressive numbers, guiding his team to a Super Bowl victory. In 2023, the Chiefs secured their third Super Bowl appearance in four years, culminating in Mahomes hoisting his second Lombardi Trophy. Positioned as the primary challenger to Tom Brady’s record seven titles, Mahomes eyes a third Super Bowl ring on February 11, 2024, as the Chiefs square off against San Francisco in Super Bowl LVIII.
2. Joe Montana
Four Super Bowl appearances, four victories, three MVPs and 11 touchdown passes — Montana’s performances in the Super Bowl are nothing short of spectacular. And with these victories coming against Dan Marino and John Elway, the Super Bowls look even better. The master of the West Coast offense is arguably the most clutch player in NFL history. Montana holds Super Bowl records for most passes without an interception (122 in four games) and a quarterback rating of 127.8.
Montana led his teams to 31 come-from-behind victories in his career, including all-time moments such as “The Catch” and his touchdown pass in the closing moments of Super Bowl XXIII. And while he safely held the title of G.O.A.T for two decades, the next player’s excellence leaves Montana at No. 2.
1. Tom Brady
Two miraculous plays away from being 9-1 in Super Bowls, Tom Brady’s case as the greatest quarterback of all-time is strong. With more Super Bowl appearances (10) and playoff victories than any quarterback in NFL history, Brady’s ability to win without dominant supporting casts is nothing short of incredible.
Finishing his career as a seven-time Super Bowl champion, five-time Super Bowl MVP and three-time NFL MVP, it’s hard to picture any quarterback surpassing him. With legendary performances in countless high-pressured games — none better than his masterful comeback performance against the Falcons in Super Bowl LI — Brady has safely asserted himself as the greatest quarterback of all-time.