Bleacher Report recently released its All-Time quarterback list and strap in because it’s a doozy. I considered whether I even wanted to write about this and give the list and Bleacher Report any life because it’s that stupid. But it does still highlight an ever-prevailing topic in football, as well as the difference in opinion on how someone could logically think differently about certain players.
Whenever you’re talking about an All-Time list, the lines are muddy and there’s always argument to be had. That’s partly why lists and rankings are so fun. A lot of points and arguments for one player over another are often qualitative. For example, nobody would argue against the importance of leadership at the quarterback position – but just how important is it? And how does it compare to other traits like arm strength and mobility? We could argue about it all day.
However, the beauty of sports is at the end of the day there’s a winner and a loser. You either won or you didn’t, completed the pass or didn’t, sacked the quarterback or didn’t. With the explosion of analytics in sports, quantitative data and statistics have never been more relevant. Therefore, since there are quantitative statistics, resumes, and history to reference, it is possible to create an inherently bad list - and this Bleacher Report list of All-Time QB’s is All-Time bad.
Before we even get into the names and rankings, why in the world did they decide to put Brad Johnson (who isn’t even on the list by the way) on the graphic?! How did that make it through the editing process if Bleacher Report even still has one? This is why we can't have nice things.
Let’s start with the grievous omissions, first of which is Bart Starr of the Green Bay Packers. Starr was under center for the Cheeseheads for 15 years and is the only QB in NFL history to lead a team to three consecutive league championships. Not to mention he also was the winning QB of the first two Super Bowls ever.
Then there’s Otto Graham, perhaps one of the most dominant athletes to ever exist. He’s one of only two people ever to have won a championship in two of the four major North American sports (he won a title in the NBL with the Rochester Royals). Graham however was a football player, and with the Browns he dominated. He took the Browns to the league championship game every single year between 1946 and 1955, winning seven of them. He has the highest win percentage for a quarterback EVER, winning 82.6% of his games. He also holds the record for yards-per-attempt to this day (8.98).
Next in the hierarchy of snubs, you’d have a pool of imperfect candidates – but guys that still consistently got the job done with eye-popping ability. You’d have Dan Fouts, who became the first QB ever to throw for 4,000 yards in back-to-back-to-back seasons but never was able to get the Chargers to the Super Bowl. Similarly, Fran Tarkenton never won a Super Bowl either but retired as the undisputed greatest ever at the time, holding every major quarterback record there was. I’d even throw Michael Vick up there for the groundbreaking fashion in which he dominated the league during his Falcons tenure.
While lists are always subjective, there are still baselines and inherent rights and wrongs if there is data to work from. You wouldn’t make a list of best colleges and leave off Harvard – that would be a bad list. It’s simply false, and that’s what Bleacher Report has done here by completely butchering this list of QB’s. When you are a media outlet, it’s usually good to at least put in a little bit of effort and integrity into what you release – even though it’s clear this list was put only out in response to ESPN’s released days prior. To whoever made this, I’ll tell you like Stephen A. told me: STAY OFF THE WEEEEED!
Cover image courtesy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame