Peyton Manning: The Greatest QB Ever?

When you think of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, you think of Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Phillip Rivers, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. Peyton Manning also gets in the discussion as one of the greatest QBs of all-time, a list that includes Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, John Elway and Tom Brady. But to me, the Super Bowl cemented the fact that Peyton Manning is not the greatest QB of all-time.

Tom Brady after Super Bowl

Manning has had a history of not winning the big one. He has a career record of 9-9 in the post-season doesn’t compare to the 3 championships of Johnny Unitas, the 4 Super Bowls victories of Joe Montana, the 2 Super Bowl victories in 5 appearances for John Elway, or the 14-4 postseason record (including 3 Super Bowl victories) for Tom Brady. At least Manning has one ring, the same cannot be said of Dan Marino, who some say was one of the best pure passers in NFL history. On the other hand, even Jim Plunkett, Jeff Hostetler, Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer have one Super Bowl ring and no-one is mentioning their names as the greatest QBs of all-time.

Peyton Manning does have four MVPs and his share of NFL records, but in the NFL it is about winning the big one, something that Manning is lacking. Even the season that he did win the Super Bowl, he had a 70.5 passer rating during the playoffs, a full 25 points below his regular season career passer rating.

Joe Montana Celebrates

I do respect Manning as a person and he is a great influence on younger fans, but to be the best you need to play the best when it matters the most.

Manning still has some seasons left, and he will need to win at least one more ring to even be mentioned in my top 3 quarterbacks of all-time. Only ten quarterbacks in NFL Super Bowl history have won more than one ring, but even that list doesn’t automatically make you a great QB (ie: Jim Plunkett has two rings). Two or more rings with all his records and MVPs gets him in my top 3 quarterback conversation, until then he is top 10, but not the greatest (maybe the greatest regular season quarterback of all-time, but then again who remembers what seed the Super Bowl Champions were?).

Who is the greatest QB to you?
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[Photo Credit: Brady – | Montana –]

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  1. My top 3 would go like this:

    1. Joe Montana
    2. Johnny Unitas
    3. John Elway

    The rest of the top 10 would be:

    4. Tom Brady
    5. Steve Young
    6. Troy Aikman
    7. Peyton Manning
    8. Dan Marino
    9. Terry Bradshaw
    10. Brett Favre

  2. Wow, I don’t really understand the majority of your rankings.

    I don’t really have a problem with your top 3, but the rest of your list doesn’t make much sense.

    First off, I am a Cowboys fan, and there is no way Troy Aikman is the 6th best QB of all time, let alone top 10. Sure he won 3 Super Bowls, but that team he had around him was stacked. I would consider putting Kurt Warner above him on the list (neither in top 10).

    How can you have Dan Marino ranked at number 8? He set every significant QB record when he played. I don’t care if he hasn’t won a ring, the NFL is the most competitive league to get one and Marino didn’t have much help.

    Well, I can go on about these rankings but here are some QBs who you may not be as informed about (due to their era since almost every QB on that list played within the past 25 years):

    1. Fran Tarkenton- threw for over 47,000 yards, passed for 342 TDs and appeared in 9 Pro Bowls. Oh, I forgot to mention, he ran for 3,674 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns on 675 carries.

    2. Roger Staubach- this guy deserves to be on the list. He only played 11 seasons but threw for over 22,000 yards, with over 150 TD’s. He won 2 Super Bowls with the Cowboys and appeared in 6 Pro Bowls. Also, at the time he retired, he had the then highest passer rating of all time at 83.4

    3. Warren Moon- Let me first mention that he played 6 seasons in the CFL so his numbers are even more impressive. Passed for over 49,000 yards and 291 TD’s in NFL. Overall passer rating in playoffs of 85.8. Went to 9 Pro Bowls.

    4. Jim Kelly- Played in 11 seasons, all with Buffalo. Passed for over 35,000 yards. Overall passer rating of 84.4. Record as a QB of 101-59. Passed for 237 TD’s.

    1. OK, I can understand dropping Aikman and bumping Peyton and Marino above him, but that is about as high as I put Marino (7th). I should not have had Aikman at 6, but everyone else above Marino should be there:

      4. Tom Brady has 3 Superbowl rings, 1 league MVP, 93.3 career passer rating, 225 TDs and only 99 INTs (2.27 TDs per INT), 14-4 in the playoffs, 97-30 as a starter, and 63.3% completion rate.

      5. Steve Young has 3 Super Bowl rings, 2 league MVPs, 96.8 career passer rating (highest ever in the NFL), 43 rushing TDs, 232 TDs and only 107 INTs (2.17 TDs per INT), and 64.3% completion rate.

      6. Peyton Manning has 1 Super Bowl ring, 4 league MVPs, 95.2 career passer rating, 366 TDs to 181 INTs (2.02 TDs per INT), 64.8% completion rate.

      7. Dan Marino has no Super Bowl rings (or appearances), 1 league MVP, 86.4 career passer rating, 420 TDs to 252 INTs (1.67 TDs per INT), 59.4% completion rate.

      And you are incorrect about the players you named, I am informed of them and they all received consideration but the numbers don’t stack up.

      Fran Tarkenton – no Super Bowl rings, 1 MVP, 80.4 career passer rating, 342 TDs to 266 INTs (1.29 TDs per INT) , 57% career completion rate

      Roger Staubach – 2 Super Bowl rings, no MVPs, 83.4 career passer rating, 153 TDs to 109 INTs (1.40 TDs per INT), 57% career completion rate

      Warren Moon – no Super Bowl rings, no MVPs, 80.9 career passer rating, 291 TDs to 233 INTs (1.25 TDs per INT), 58.4% career completion rate

      Jim Kelly – 4 consecutive Super Bowl losses, no MVPs, 84.4 career passer rating, 237 TDs to 175 INTs (1.35 TDs per INT), 60.1% career completion rate

      Bart Starr is another great QB that could have made the list. And if this post was made 10-20 years ago these guys would be on the list, but there are better QBs now.

      The NFL is a unique sport in the fact that one player, specifically the QB, has a huge influence on the outcome of a game – in baseball a dominant pitcher goes every 5th game and a dominant hitter bats 11% of the time (1/9) and in the NBA you need a solid 12 man team to win championships.

      As the expression goes, to be the best you have to beat the best. In the NFL, the best teams make the playoffs and only one team makes it to the top. But, rings aren’t everything, hence Terry Bradshaw is not on the list with 4 Super Bowl wins, the players named have the individual career numbers to back it up.

  3. You have to realize that Super Bowl rings aren’t everything. There are many great QB’s who don’t have any weapons to use.

    Frank Tarkenton ran for over 3,500 yards. That is a very respectful number and he should be on the list.

    Also, all of these QB’s on the list have mainly played in the same era. Perhaps those amazing statistics from each of them proves that the defenses during their era was not as good as it was in the past.

    1. I realize that rings aren’t everything, but they are important because they are so hard to come by. But even without the rings, the stats of these QBs are off the charts. Fran Tarkenton definitely deserves to be in the discussion and you can’t go wrong adding him to the list.

      The fact that these QBs all played in basically the same era doesn’t say anything about the defenses of 80s, 90s, and 2000s. There were great defenses in that era including the “Dome Patrol.” It says something about the level of talent at QB during the era.

      Also, Warren Moon was great in the CFL, he won 5 Grey Cups, but the talent in the CFL doesn’t compare to the NFL and for the purpose of my greatest QBs, I only include the NFL and the league’s that became the NFL.

  4. Also, I know it wasn’t in the NFL, but look at Warren Moon’s numbers from the CFL. He is definitely better than 2 or 3 of your top 10.

  5. Football is a team game so super bowl wins crap can be taken out of context to much when us intelligent people know football is the ultimate team game. Put Brady on Bengals team and lets see how he fairs. My Eyes tells me for pure passing. 1. Moon/Marino 2. Manning. 3.Fouts 4.Tarkenton 5. Farve
    For runnning: 1.vick 2. mcnabb 3. tarkenton 4 randal 5. young. Toughness: 1. Mcnair. 2 Farve 3. Big ben, 4. mcnabb 5. Young.

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