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I only caught a brief portion of the conversation on sports talk radio, ESPN-540 Milwaukee (the “Homer” and “Thunder” Show), but the topic, to me, was fascinating: The discussion centered on Green Bay Packers quarterbacks Bart Starr, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers and whether or not they were the best trio of QBs from an NFL franchise.
So… I decided to put some numbers to the discussion.
The premise I started with in my analysis is that to qualify for my rankings, the quarterback had to have thrown 100 or more TD passes with the team and won 40 or more games for that team as the starting quarterback (Note: Some of the older QBs do not have won-loss records in the resources I used, so had to give some of the “older” QBs a “pass” if I thought they deserved to be on the list).
Here’s my list of the Top 10 NFL Franchises with the Best Trio of Quarterbacks in their History (Agreements? Disagreements?)
1. San Francisco 49ers: Joe Montana, Steve Young and John Brodie. All three threw for 200 or more TD passes with the team (the only tandem in NFL history); all won 70 or more games as starting QB and Montana and Young not only won Super Bowls but also have been elected to the Hall of Fame. They have a fourth QB that fit my criteria: Y.A. Tittle.
2. Green Bay Packers: Bart Starr, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. Maybe a little bias being a Packers fan, but I believe they stack up pretty well against other trios. They are one of only three QB trios to lead their team to the Super Bowl (Washington and the New York Giants are the other two). Rodgers is still early in his career, but he has the potential to finish with many more TDs and wins as the Packers QB. They have a fourth QB that fit my criteria: Lynn Dickey.
3. Dallas Cowboys: Troy Aikman, Danny White and Roger Staubach. The ‘Boys actually have five QBs who fit the criteria (add Tony Romo and Don Meredith). Staubach and Aikman won Super Bowls and were elected to the Hall. All three QBs listed threw for 150+ TDs and won 60 or more games as Dallas’ starting QB. Romo could easily replace White on this list with his 177 TDs and 55 wins.
4. Washington Redskins: Sonny Jurgensen, Joe Theisman and Sammy Baugh. The Redskins QB history includes five QBs with 100 or more passing TDs when you add Billy Kilmer and Mark Rypien. Baugh holds the ‘Skins TD pass record; Jurgensen is in the Hall; Theisman won a Super Bowl (as did Rypien and Doug Williams).
5. New York Giants: Phil Simms, Eli Manning and Charlie Conerly. Another pair of Super Bowl quarterbacks in Simms and Manning. This threesome each had 170+ TD passes.
6. Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts: Peyton Manning, Johnny Unitas and Bert Jones. Manning and Unitas rank among the best of all time. Jones is not a real strong #3, so the team ranks lower in my rankings.
7. New England Patriots: Tom Brady, Steve Grogan and Drew Bledsoe: Each of the three has 60+ wins and more than 165 TDs on their Patriots resume. Brady and his three Super Bowls are a lock for the Hall. They have a fourth QB that fit my criteria: Babe Parilli.
8. Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans: Warren Moon, George Blanda and Steve McNair. This was the group that probably surprised me the most. This group each had over 150 TD passes. Moon and Blanda are Hall of Famers. They had a fourth QB that just missed the list: Dan Pastorini (he had 53 wins but only 96 career TDs).
9. San Diego Chargers: Dan Fouts, John Hadl and Philip Rivers. No Super Bowls leaves this group lower, but they each have over 150 TDs and 59+ wins. Rivers has the chance for 200+ career TDs (he currently has 189 TDs and will likely reach the 200-mark in 2013), which would give the team three QBs with 200+ (a rarity… see the 49ers above).
10 (tie). Philadelphia Eagles: Donovan McNabb, Ron Jaworski and Randall Cunningham; Cincinnati Bengals: Ken Anderson, Boomer Esiason and Carson Palmer. Solid groups, but no Hall of Famers or Super Bowl wins to make an impact on the list.
“99 Stats Before Kickoff” (Stats you need to know before the start of the 2013 NFL season) is available from e-book publisher Smashwords. Go to www.smashwords.com to download a copy, including a pdf version which can be viewed on your home computer. Cost is $2.99.