How should The Greatest Quarterback be determined? Win the most Super Bowls? Great statistics? Division first place year after year? Elevate the rest of the team players? Field team leadership?

What if a great quarterback is surrounded by a lousy team year after year (such as Dan Marino and Archie Manning)? What if a marginally decent quarterback (such as Terry Bradshaw) is on a team with an abundance of outstanding players? What if an average (or less) quarterback backs up a bold prediction about winning his only Super Bowl (such as Joe Namath)? What about someone who probably would be an top QB if he was not a backup QB (such as Jeff Rutledge). What if an outstanding quarterback has bad coaches? And can a great coach make a good quarterback look great? Then there is that entire argument about quarterbacks from different eras with different rules that favor quarterbacks more, or less, than other eras.

Interestingly, when looking at stats "per game" or "per pass attempt" or "per season", the players from the early years (40's, 50's and 60's) usually dominate the top ten per stat. Same can be said for such things as making fumbles. What does that tell us?

Given all of the above, the accompanying spreadsheet (below) is an attempt at looking at these various factors. Each quarterback has the various objective statistics as well as some subjective indicators. Additionally, to make sure that the very best will rise to the top of the list, over seventy quarterbacks are considered. Finally, three different ratings are calculated per quarterback. Each rating is weighted towards one factor or another. Interestingly, the more modern quarterbacks seem to be favored more by these rating systems. That could be because of rule changes favoring quarterbacks (which allows better and better statistics) and because athletes simply know how to better train and prepare than in years past, plus, they certainly have better medical care.

And, given all these stats, it is easy to tell who the top few QB's are (in alphabetical order):
   TOP 25: Aikman,Blanda,Bradshaw,Brady,Brees,Baugh,Dawson,Elway,Favre,Graham,Hadl,Hostetler,Isbell,Kilmer,Lamonica,Luckman,P.Manning,Marino,Montana,Morrall,Rodgers,Roethlisherger,Starr,Staubach,Tarkenton,Unitas,Van Brocklin,Waterfield,Warner,Williams,Young
   TOP 10: Brady, Elway, Favre, Graham, Luckman, P.Manning, Marino, Montana, Rodgers, Unitas
   TOP 05: Brady, Graham, P.Manning, Montana, Unitas
   TOP 03: Brady, Graham, Montana
   TOP 01: Graham

When all three ratings are taken together, the same few quarterbacks consistently rank in the top five. And, surprisingly, the same single quarterback always rates the highest. That seems to say that this quarterback truly is The Greatest Quarterback. His name is Otto Graham. Most people alive today never saw him play from the mid 40's to the mid 50'. But his accomplishments are amazing, even when compared to today's rules and standards. Even with low career stats because of playing only ten years, he still ranks incredibly high (although Brady, who played twice as many seasons, surpasses Graham in some numbers because of twice the number of chances to throw for TD's and yardage and win championships).

Here are some facts about Otto Graham:

Click on the below link to see one set of dozens of statistics that weightedly ranks dozens of the greatest quarterbacks.

              Greatest NFL Quarterbacks [MS-Excel]

Here is yet another way to rank the QB's -- where they stand in the Top Five of dozens of stats. Brady comes out on top of this list.
The Top Ten, in order, are: Brady, P.Manning, Graham, Favre, Luckman, Isbell, Brees, Elway, Blanda, and, Morrall and Montana tied for 10th).
Funny how the same 4 - 5 QB's keep showing up at the top of any type of ranking! And so the debate continues of who is the G.O.A.T. QB.
Top 5 NFL QB's in nearly 50 career stats [MS-Excel]

Copyright © 2017 by Larry Wilson