Water Cooler Quarterbacks: Peyton Manning and the Thirty-One

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Water Cooler Quarterbacks compare Manning's career to those of the thirty-one Hall of Fame quarterbacks.

As I mentioned in my last post, Manning's regular season success that led to a Super Bowl appearance and the Broncos team-meltdown in that game has sparked a lot of comments regarding Manning's legacy and whether or not he can be called the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT).

That previous article talked about the impossible nature of crowning any player as the GOAT when we look at the NFL. The game has simply changed too radically over its ninety-four season history. When you try to compare players that are more than just a few years removed from one another you end up comparing apples to oranges. Let me give you a very simple example:

You have four quarterbacks - A, B, C, D.

QB A played from 1937 to 1942 (6 seasons). During those years he would have had the opportunity to play a maximum of 66 regular season games.

QB B played from 1947 to 1952. In his six seasons, he would have had the opportunity to play a maximum of 72 regular season games -- or the equivalent of approximately one-half season more than QB A in a career of the same length.

QB C played from 1967 to 72. He would have had the opportunity to play a maximum of 84 regular season games. So, in a career which spanned the same length as those of QBs A and B, he would have had the possibility of playing the equivalent of a full season more than QB B and approximately one and one-half seasons more than QB A.

QB D played from 1987 to 1982. This would have given him a possible maximum of 96 regular season games in his six seasons, or an advanted of three-fourths of a season more than QB C, two full seasons more than QB B and nearly three more seasons than QB A.


There is no valid way to compare these four quarterbacks when one has had nearly fifty percent more opportunities to demonstrate what he can do. The example above does not even address the issue of the NFL from 1920-37 where teams often played differing numbers of games during the same season.

One rather interesting suggestion that was made in response to the previous post was the idea that we should ignore anything prior to the 1970 merger of the NFL and AFL. The rationale given was that the game has changed so radically that the pre-merger NFL and the post-merger NFL represent different games. While this is an intriguing idea, it does create two rather important issues:

First, this approach would require that we totally ignore the contributions that came during the first fifty years of the NFL's history. Put another way, we would have to abandon 53% of the NFL's history.

Second, the game has changed in significant ways even since 1970. Here are some examples: in 1974, the NFL made sweeping rule changes in order to promote increased action, tempo and scoring. In 1977, the NFL moved from a 14-game schedule to a 16-game schedule. In 1988, the play clock for the teams was moved from 30 seconds to 45. In 1990, the NFL added an additional wild card playoff team to each conference. In 1999, instant replay was brought back and a coach's challenge system installed. A review of the way that teams have moved the ball demonstrates a shift from a run-oriented offense to a pass-oriented one. The list could go on and on.

The whole point being made here is that there is no way to validly crown any player the GOAT. A better question would be:

Does the player's career compare favorably to other players at his position who have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

The previous article mentioned how an ESPN panel that included former NFL linebacker Ray Lewis asserted that the highest accolade an NFL player can receive is induction into the Hall of Fame. That panel also asserted that once a player has been inducted into the Hall, the discussion is over.

So, in the case of Manning, the question is NOT "Is he the GOAT?" but rather, "Does his career compare favorably to the thirty-one quarterbacks who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame?" That will be the focus of the remainder of this article.

Now, before we begin, I would like to point out a couple of things. First, I make no apologies for focusing on Manning. He is the Broncos' current quarterback. I am a Broncos fan. This is a Broncos blog. If you are a fan of another team, or simply a fan of another quarterback, I invite you to compile the career data regarding your quarterback using the format below and share those observations in the comments section.

One final item, a plea: This article is NOT about whether or not QB A is better than QB B. It IS about whether or not QB A's (and by extension QB B's) career compares favorably with Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Please, please, please, keep the discussion focused on that.

That said, let's look at Manning and the Thirty-One.

Here is the list of thirty-one quarterbacks who have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (in alphabetical order):

Quarterback Years Team Quarterback Years Team
Troy Aikman 1989-00 Dallas Cowboys Bobby Layne 1948 Chicago Bears
Sammy Baugh 1937-52 Washington Redskins 1949 New York Bulldogs
George Blanda 1949-58 Chicago Bears 1950-58 Detroit Lions
1950 Baltimore Colts* 1958-62 Pittsburgh Steelers
1960-66 Houston Oilers Sid Luckman 1939-50 Chicago Bears
1967-75 Oakland Raiders Dan Marino 1983-99 Miami Dolphins
Terry Bradshaw 1970-83 Pittsburgh Steelers Joe Montana 1979-92 San Francisco 49ers
Earl "Dutch" Clark 1931-32 Portsmouth Spartans 1993-94 Kansas City Chiefs
1934-38 Detroit Lions Warren Moon 1984-93 Houston Oilers
Jimmy Conzelman 1920 Decatur Staleys 1994-96 Minnesota Vikings
1921-22 Rock Island Independents 1997-98 Seattle Seahawks
1923-24 Milwaukee Badgers 1999-00 Kansas City Chiefs
1925-26 Detroit Panthers Joe Namath 1965-76 New York Jets
1927-29 Providence Steam Roller 1977 Los Angeles Rams
Len Dawson 1957-59 Pittsburgh Steelers Clarence "Ace" Parker 1937-41 Brooklyn Dodgers
1960-61 Cleveland Browns 1945 Boston Yanks
1962-75 Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs 1946 New York Yankees
John "Paddy" Driscoll 1920 Decatur Staleys Bart Starr 1956-71 Green Bay Packers
1920-25 Chicago Cardinals Roger Staubach 1969-79 Dallas Cowboys
1926-29 Chicago Bears Fran Tarkenton 1961-66 Minnesota Vikings
John Elway 1983-98 Denver Broncos 1967-71 New York Giants
Dan Fouts 1973-87 San Diego Chargers 1972-78 Minnesota Vikings
Benny Friedman 1927 Cleveland Bulldogs Y. A. Tittle 1951-60 San Francisco 49ers
1928 Detroit Wolverines 1961-64 New York Giants
1929-31 New York Giants Johnny Unitas 1956-72 Baltimore Colts
1932-34 Brooklyn Dodgers 1973 San Diego Chargers
Otto Graham 1946-55 Cleveland Browns Norm Van Brocklin 1949-57 Los Angeles Rams
Bob Griese 1967-80 Miami Dolphins 1958-60 Philadelphia Eagles
Arnie Herber 1930-40 Green Bay Packers Bob Waterfield 1945-52 Cleveland/Los Angeles Rams
1944-45 New York Giants Steve Young 1985-86 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sonny Jurgensen 1957-63 Philadelphia Eagles 1987-99 San Francisco 49ers
1964-74 Washington Redskins Peyton Manning 1998-11 Indianapolis Colts
Jim Kelly 1986-96 Buffalo Bills 2012-13 Denver Broncos

*This particular team folded in 1950

As we read the statistical comparisons below, it is important to keep in mind that some stats were not officially recorded by the NFL during its earliest years. For example, the NFL did not start officially recording quarterback record until 1950. As a result, some of the Hall of Fame players may not appear in some of the statistical categories.

Longevity: Seasons, Games, Starts, QB Record

Seasons Quarterback Games Quarterback Starts Quarterback
26 Blanda (only 12 as QB) 340 Blanda 240 Marino
19 Dawson 246 Tarkenton Manning
18 Jurgensen 242 Marino 239 Tarkenton
Tarkenton 240 Manning 231 Elway
Unitas 234 Elway 203 Moon
17 Moon 218 Jurgensen 185 Unitas
Marino 211 Dawson 171 Fouts
Tittle Unitas 165 Aikman
16 Baugh 208 Moon Baugh
Elway 204 Tittle 164 Montana
Starr 196 Starr 160 Kelly
Manning 192 Montana 159 Dawson
15 Fouts 181 Fouts 158 Bradshaw
Layne 175 Layne 157 Starr
Montana 169 Young 153 Tittle
Young 168 Bradshaw 151 Griese
14 Bradshaw 165 Aikman 147 Jurgensen
Griese Baugh 145 Layne
13 Herber 161 Griese 143 Young
Namath 160 Kelly 129 Namath
12 Aikman 140 Namath 114 Graham
Luckman Van Brocklin Staubach
Van Brocklin 131 Staubach 106 Blanda
11 Kelly 129 Herber 103 Driscoll
Staubach 128 Luckman 101 Van Brocklin
10 Conzelman 126 Graham 71 Friedman
Driscoll 118 Driscoll 67 Conzelman
Graham 104 Conzelman 62 Luckman
8 Friedman 91 Waterfield 57 Waterfield
Waterfield 81 Friedman 56 Herber
7 Clark 75 Clark 49 Clark
Parker 68 Parker Parker

Manning is in the middle of the mix here, having a career that so far has been as long as Sammy Baugh, John Elway and Bart Starr. Eight HOF quarterbacks have had longer careers while twenty played for a shorter time. Manning currently trails only George Blanda, Fran Tarkenton and Dan Marino in number of games played and has tied Dan Marino for most starts.

Quarterback Record (not officially recorded until 1950)

Quarterback Win/Loss % Record
Graham .810 57-13-1
Staubach .746 85-29-0
Montana .713 117-47-0
Manning .696 167-73-0
Bradshaw .677 107-51-0
Young .657 94-49-0
Unitas .645 118-64-4
Elway .643 148-82-1
Waterfield .636 14-8-0
Kelly .631 101-59-0
Van Brocklin .624 61-36-4
Griese .619 92-56-3
Starr .618 94-57-6
Dawson .616 94-57-8
Marino .613 147-93-0
Layne .607 80-51-4
Tittle .596 78-52-5
Aikman .570 94-71-0
Tarkenton .531 124-109-6
Baugh .524 11-10-0
Blanda .514 53-50-1
Fouts .506 86-84-1
Moon .502 102-101-0
Namath .496 62-63-4
Jurgensen .487 69-73-7

Manning is currently in fourth place in winning percentage, trailing Otto Graham, Roger Staubach and Joe Montana.

Passing (Most of these were not officially recorded until 1932)

Quarterback Comp % Quarterback Yards
Manning 65.5 Manning 64,964
Young 64.3 Marino 61,361
Montana 63.2 Elway 51,475
Aikman 61.5 Moon 49,325
Kelly 60.1 Tarkenton 47,003
Marino 59.4 Fouts 43,040
Fouts 58.8 Montana 40,551
Moon 58.4 Unitas 40,239
Starr 57.4 Kelly 35,467
Dawson 57.1 Young 33,124
Jurgensen 57.1 Tittle 33,070
Staubach 57.0 Aikman 32,942
Tarkenton 57.0 Jurgensen 32,224
Elway 56.9 Dawson 28,711
Baugh 56.5 Bradshaw 27,989
Griese 56.2 Namath 27,663
Graham 55.8 Blanda 26,920
Tittle 55.2 Layne 26,768
Unitas 54.6 Griese 25,092
Van Brocklin 53.6 Starr 24,178
Bradshaw 51.9 Van Brocklin 23,611
Luckman 51.8 Graham 23,584
Waterfield 50.3 Staubach 22,700
Namath 50.1 Baugh 21,886
Layne 49.0 Luckman 14,686
Blanda 47.7 Herber 8041
Parker 46.7 Parker 4698
Friedman 41.9 Clark 1507
Herber 40.9 Friedman 929

Manning has a better completion percentage and has thrown for more yards than any of the thirty-one HOF quarterbacks.

Quarterback TD Quarterback TD% Quarterback Int Quarterback Int%
Manning 491 Friedman 39.5 Friedman 19 Montana 2.6
Marino 420 Luckman 7.9 Clark 26 Young 2.6
Tarkenton 342 Herber 6.9 Parker 50 Manning 2.6
Elway 300 Graham 6.6 Herber 106 Aikman 3.0
Moon 291 Dawson 6.4 Young 107 Marino 3.0
Unitas 290 Baugh 6.2 Staubach 109 Elway 3.1
Montana 273 Jurgensen 6.0 Waterfield 128 Moon 3.4
Jurgensen 255 Van Brocklin 6.0 Luckman 132 Kelly 3.7
Fouts 254 Waterfield 6.0 Graham 135 Staubach 3.7
Tittle 242 Blanda 5.9 Starr 138 Tarkenton 4.1
Dawson 239 Manning 5.8 Montana 139 Fouts 4.3
Kelly 237 Griese 5.6 Aikman 141 Jurgensen 4.4
Blanda 236 Unitas 5.6 Griese 172 Starr 4.4
Young 232 Young 5.6 Kelly 175 Dawson 4.9
Bradshaw 212 Tittle 5.5 Van Brocklin 178 Unitas 4.9
Layne 196 Bradshaw 5.4 Dawson 183 Griese 5.0
Griese 192 Tarkenton 5.3 Jurgensen 189 Graham 5.1
Baugh 187 Layne 5.3 Baugh 203 Bradshaw 5.4
Graham 174 Staubach 5.2 Bradshaw 210 Tittle 5.6
Namath 173 Montana 5.1 Manning 219 Namath 5.8
Van Brocklin 173 Kelly 5.0 Namath 220 Van Brocklin 6.1
Aikman 165 Marino 5.0 Elway 226 Layne 6.6
Staubach 153 Starr 4.8 Moon 233 Baugh 6.8
Starr 152 Namath 4.6 Fouts 242 Blanda 6.9
Luckman 137 Fouts 4.5 Layne 243 Parker 7.0
Waterfield 97 Clark 4.4 Tittle 248 Luckman 7.6
Herber 81 Moon 4.3 Marino 252 Waterfield 7.9
Friedman 66 Parker 4.2 Unitas 253 Herber 9.0
Parker 30 Elway 4.1 Tarkenton 266 Clark 10.4
Clark 11 Aikman 3.5 Blanda 277 Friedman 11.4
Conzelman 10

Manning has more touchdown passes than any of the others, but is only in the middle of the pack when it comes to touchdown percentage. While he is in the middle of the pack in terms of the number of interceptions thrown, he has matched Joe Montana and Steve Young in interception percentage.

Quarterback Yds/Attempt Quarterback Yds/Catch Quarterback Yds/Game
Graham 8.0 Herber 16.7 Manning 270.7
Luckman 8.4 Luckman 16.2 Marino 253.6
Van Brocklin 8.2 Graham 16.1 Fouts 237.8
Young 8.0 Van Brocklin 15.2 Moon 237.1
Starr 7.8 Layne 14.8 Kelly 221.7
Unitas 7.8 Namath 14.7 Elway 220.0
Dawson 7.7 Waterfield 14.6 Montana 211.2
Fouts 7.7 Unitas 14.2 Aikman 199.6
Staubach 7.7 Blanda 14.1 Namath 197.6
Manning 7.7 Parker 14.0 Young 196.0
Jurgensen 7.6 Bradshaw 13.8 Tarkenton 191.1
Montana 7.5 Starr 13.7 Unitas 190.7
Tittle 7.5 Tittle 13.6 Graham 187.2
Kelly 7.4 Staubach 13.5 Staubach 173.3
Namath 7.4 Dawson 13.4 Van Brocklin 166.6
Baugh 7.3 Friedman 13.3 Tittle 162.1
Griese 7.3 Clark 13.2 Griese 155.9
Marino 7.3 Jurgensen 13.2 Layne 153.0
Tarkenton 7.3 Fouts 13.1 Jurgensen 147.8
Waterfield 7.3 Griese 13.0 Dawson 136.1
Bradshaw 7.2 Baugh 12.9 Baugh 132.6
Moon 7.2 Tarkenton 12.8 Waterfield 130.2
Layne 7.2 Elway 12.5 Starr 126.1
Elway 7.1 Marino 12.4 Luckman 114.7
Aikman 7.0 Moon 12.4 Blanda 79.2
Herber 6.8 Young 12.4 Parker 69.1
Blanda 6.7 Kelly 12.3 Herber 62.3
Parker 6.5 Montana 11.9 Clark 20.1
Clark 6.0 Manning 11.7 Friedman 11.5
Friedman 5.6 Aikman 11.4

These categories were intriguing. Manning is in the top third in yards per attempt, but near the bottom in yards per catch, yet leads all of the rest in yards per game.

Quarterback Sacks Quarterback Sack%
Blanda 12 Blanda 0.3
Starr 59 Unitas 1.4
Unitas 74 Starr 1.8
Jurgensen 94 Jurgensen 2.2
Namath 109 Namath 2.8
Dawson 167 Marino 3.1
Aikman 259 Manning 3.1
Griese 267 Tarkenton 4.1
Marino 270 Dawson 4.3
Manning 270 Aikman 5.2
Tarkenton 274 Fouts 5.4
Bradshaw 307 Montana 5.5
Montana 313 Kelly 6.3
Staubach 313 Moon 6.3
Fouts 319 Elway 6.6
Kelly 323 Griese 7.2
Young 358 Bradshaw 7.3
Moon 458 Young 7.9
Elway 516 Staubach 9.6

* not officially recorded prior to 1969

Manning is right in the middle of the pack in both of these categories.

Rushing

Quarterback Attempts Quarterback Yards Quarterback Yds/Attempt Quarterback Yds/Game Quarterback TDs
Elway 774 Young 4239 Young 5.9 Clark 37.0 Graham 44
Young 722 Tarkenton 3674 Staubach 5.5 Young 25.1 Young 43
Tarkenton 675 Elway 3407 Tarkenton 5.4 Parker 19.0 Tittle 39
Layne 611 Clark 2772 Starr 5.3 Staubach 17.3 Clark 36
Clark 606 Layne 2451 Bradshaw 5.1 Tarkenton 14.9 Elway 33
Moon 543 Staubach 2264 Clark 4.6 Elway 14.6 Bradshaw 32
Parker 498 Bradshaw 2257 Dawson 4.4 Layne 14.0 Tarkenton 32
Montana 457 Unitas 1777 Elway 4.4 Bradshaw 13.4 Layne 25
Unitas 450 Moon 1736 Layne 4.0 Montana 8.7 Moon 22
Bradshaw 444 Montana 1676 Unitas 3.9 Unitas 8.4 Montana 20
Staubach 410 Starr 1308 Griese 3.8 Moon 8.3 Staubach 20
Graham 405 Dawson 1293 Montana 3.7 Graham 7.0 Manning 18
Manning 401 Parker 1292 Kelly 3.5 Starr 6.7 Namath 16
Tittle 372 Tittle 1245 Tittle 3.3 Kelly 6.6 Jurgensen 15
Aikman 327 Kelly 1049 Moon 3.2 Aikman 6.2 Starr 15
Baugh 324 Aikman 1016 Aikman 3.1 Griese 6.2 Conzelman 13
Kelly 304 Griese 994 Friedman 3.0 Dawson 6.1 Fouts 13
Marino 301 Graham 882 Parker 2.6 Tittle 6.1 Parker 13
Dawson 294 Manning 697 Graham 2.2 Friedman 5.7 Unitas 13
Griese 261 Jurgensen 493 Fouts 2.1 Manning 2.9 Waterfield 13
Herber 250 Fouts 476 Namath 2.0 Jurgensen 2.7 Van Brocklin 11
Starr 247 Friedman 458 Manning 1.7 Fouts 2.6 Aikman 9
Fouts 224 Baugh 325 Baugh 1.0 Baugh 2.0 Baugh 9
Luckman 204 Namath 140 Van Brocklin 0.4 Namath 1.0 Dawson 9
Jurgensen 181 Herber 116 Marino 0.3 Waterfield 0.8 Marino 9
Friedman 152 Marino 87 Waterfield 0.2 Van Brocklin 0.7 Griese 7
Van Brocklin 102 Waterfield 75 Luckman -1.2 Herber 0.5 Kelly 7
Namath 71 Van Brocklin 40 Marino 0.4 Namath 7
Luckman -239 Luckman -1.9 Luckman 4
Herber 3

It was rather surprising to see Manning with as many rushing attempts, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns as he has.

Fourth Quarter Comebacks and Game Winning Drives*

Quarterback 4QCB Quarterback GWD
Manning 40 Marino 51
Marino 36 Manning 51
Elway 35 Elway 46
Montana 31 Moon 37
Tarkenton 30 Tarkenton 34
Unitas 27 Montana 33
Moon 26 Kelly 29
Fouts 24 Unitas 29
Kelly 22 Bradshaw 27
Bradshaw 19 Fouts 26
Starr 19 Staubach 23
Friedman 18 Aikman 21
Jurgensen 18 Griese 20
Aikman 16 Dawson 18
Griese 16 Starr 18
Namath 16 Young 17
Dawson 15 Jurgensen 14
Staubach 15 Blanda 11
Young 14 Van Brocklin 6
Blanda 11 Layne 5
Tittle 6 Tittle 5
Van Brocklin 6 Graham 2
Layne 4 Luckman 1
Graham 1

* based on pro-football-reference.com's work (http://www.pro-football-reference.com/blog/?p=3392)

It was interesting to see that Pro-Football-Reference has Manning listed at the top of both of these categories.

Post Seasons as a Starter

Quarterback Post Seasons Quarterback PS Win% PS Record Quarterback Championships
Manning 13 Clark 1.000 1-0 Graham 7
Montana 11 Starr .900 9-1 Starr 5
Graham 10 Graham .750 9-3 Bradshaw 4
Marino 10 Unitas .750 6-2 Herber 4
Staubach 10 Layne .750 3-1 Luckman 4
Bradshaw 9 Bradshaw .737 14-5 Montana 4
Elway 9 Aikman .733 11-4 Aikman 3
Kelly 8 Luckman .714 5-2 Layne 3
Aikman 7 Montana .696 16-7 Unitas 3
Griese 7 Elway .667 14-7 Baugh 2
Moon 7 Blanda .667 2-1 Blanda 2
Young 7 Herber .667 2-1 Elway 2
Luckman 6 Namath .667 2-1 Griese 2
Starr 6 Staubach .647 11-6 Staubach 2
Van Brocklin 6 Dawson .625 5-3 Van Brocklin 2
Baugh 5 Young .571 8-6 Waterfield 2
Dawson 5 Griese .545 6-5 Clark 1
Tarkenton 5 Tarkenton .545 6-5 Conzelman 1
Tittle 5 Kelly .529 9-8 Dawson 1
Unitas 5 Baugh .500 3-3 Jurgensen 1
Waterfield 5 Jurgensen .500 3-3 Namath 1
Fouts 4 Waterfield .500 3-3 Young 1
Herber 4 Manning .478 11-12 Manning 1
Jurgensen 4 Marino .444 8-10 Fouts 0
Blanda 3 Fouts .429 3-4 Friedman 0
Layne 3 Van Brocklin .429 3-4 Kelly 0
Namath 2 Moon .300 3-7 Marino 0
Clark 1 Tittle .000 0-5 Moon 0
Parker 0
Tarkenton 0
Tittle 0

This has been the area in which Manning has drawn the most criticism. Although he has guided his teams to more post season appearances than any of the thirty-one HOF quarterbacks, his winning percentage puts him near the bottom of the group. Many people want to make it an issue that he has only won a single Super Bowl. Yet that merely means that he has more championships than one-fourth of the HOF quarterbacks (Fouts, Friedman, Kelly, Marino, Moon, Parker, Tarkenton and Tittle have no rings). It puts Manning in the company of Clark, Conzelman, Dawson, Jurgensen, Namath and Young who each have a single championship to their careers. So, nearly half of the quarterbacks in the HOF have one or less championships.

Awards & Notable Aspects of Career

Note: when setting records is mentioned, it refers to records at the time the quarterback retired.

Quarterback Awards and Notes
Troy Aikman Named Super Bowl MVP (1992), voted to 6 Pro Bowls (91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96), was the winningest quarterback of the 1990s, held or tied 47 Dallas passing records.
Sammy Baugh Influenced the evolution of NFL game from a run-dominant game to a passing game, voted All-NFL 7 times, led the NFL in passing 6 times, led the NFL in passing, pass interceptions (as a defender) and punting in 1943
George Blanda Voted to 4 Pro Bowls (61, 62, 63, 67), voted 1st Team All-Pro in 1961, played multiple positions (QB 1949-50, K/LB 1951, QB/K 1952-54, K 1955-58, QB/K 1960-66, K 1967-75), currently holds record for longest NFL career by any player, held or tied 16 regular season records, held or tied 21 title game records.
Terry Bradshaw Was voted NFL MVP in 1978, was voted Super Bowl MVP twice (78, 79), was voted to 3 Pro Bowls (75, 78, 79), was voted 1st Team All-Pro once (1978), called his own plays, set 13 team records, set 5 post season records, set 6 Super Bowl records.
Earl "Dutch" Clark Voted All-NFL in 6 of his 7 years, was the NFL's scoring champ 3 times, led the Detroit Lions to the 1935 title, called the plays for the offense, was a triple-threat back who could run, pass and drop-kick,
Jimmy Conzelman Was a player/coach for 4 teams in the 1920s, led the Providence Steam Roller to the league championship in 1928, became the player/coach/owner of the Detroit Panthers in 1925-26 (he was offered ownership by the NFL for a $100 investment -- that is the equivalent of $1331 in 2013; the Cleveland Browns were purchased in 2012 for over $1 billion), won an NFL championship as the coach of the Chicago Cardinals in 1947.
Len Dawson Was voted Super Bowl MVP (1969), was voted to the Pro Bowl 7 times (62, 64, 66, 67, 68, 69, 71), was voted 1st Team All-Pro twice (62, 66), is best remembered for Kansas City's 23-7 upset win over Minnesota in Super Bowl IV, led the Chiefs to two SB appearances (I, IV), was noted for his calm and poise on the playing field, won the NFL's passing crown 4 times (62, 64, 66, 68), was regarded as a pin-point passer and astute field general, set 20 team records.
John "Paddy" Driscoll Was voted All-NFL 6 times in 10 seasons, played both offense and defense, was a triple threat (run, pass, kick) on offense, drop kicked a 50-yard field goal in 1924.
John Elway Was voted Super Bowl MVP (1998), was voted NFL MVP (87), was voted to 9 Pro Bowls (86, 87, 89, 91, 93, 94, 96, 97, 98), is best remembered for "The Drive" - a 98-yard come from behind TD drive to tie the Cle Browns in the 1986 AFC Champ game that Den went on to win 23-20 in OT, became only player to pass for over 3000 & rush for over 200 in same season 7 consecutive times, set 30 team records, 17 post season records and 2 Super Bowl records.
Dan Fouts Was voted NFL MVP (1982), was voted to 6 Pro Bowls (79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 85), was voted 1st Team All-Pro twice (79, 82), led SD to three AFC West titles, 3rd player to ever pass for over 40,000 yards,
set 20 team records, 15 post season records.
Lenny Friedman Was voted 1st Team All Pro 4 times (27, 28, 29, 30), is considered to be the NFL's 1st great passer, threw a league record 11 TD passes in 1927 as a rookie, led the NFL in TD passes 4 consecutive years, was a triple threat player (run, pass, kick).
Otto Graham Was voted NFL MVP 3 times (51, 53, 55), was voted to 5 Pro Bowls (50, 51, 52, 53, 54), was voted 1st Team All-Pro 7 times (47, 48, 49, 51, 53, 54, 55), guided the Browns to 10 division and/or league titles in 10 seasons, was the NFL's passing leader in 6 seasons, had 3 passing TDs & 3 rushing TDs in 1954 title game.
Bob Griese Was voted to the Pro Bowl 8 times (67, 68, 70, 71, 73, 74, 77, 78), was voted 1st Team All-Pro twice (71, 77), led a classic ball-control offense, led Miami to 3 AFC titles & wins in SB VII & VIII, was named NFL player of the year in 1971.
Arnie Herber Voted to the Pro Bowl once (39), was voted 1st Team All-Pro once (32), led the NFL in passing 3 times (32, 34, 36), led Green Bay to 4 NFL titles.
Sonny Jurgensen Was voted to the Pro Bowl 5 times (61, 64, 66, 67, 69), was voted 1st Team All-Pro twice (61, 69), led the NFL in passing 3 times, surpassed 3000 yds in a season 5 times, had 25 300-yd games, considered to be one of finest pure passers in league history.
Jim Kelly Was voted to the Pro Bowl 5 times (87, 88, 90, 91, 92), was voted 1st Team All-Pro once (91), had 8 3000-yd seasons, mastered Buffalo's "no huddle" offense, guided the BIlls to 8 post season appearances, guided the Bills to 4 consecutive Super Bowls, set 13 team records, 4 post season records and 3 Super Bowl records.
Bobby Layne Was voted to 6 Pro Bowls (51, 52, 53, 56, 58, 59), was voted 1st Team All-Pro twice (52, 56), was voted All-NFL twice, was lauded for intangibles - leadership, determination, competitiveness, guts, having fun, was reputed to "not always follow appropriate team behavior" off the field.
Sid Luckman Was voted to 3 Pro Bowls (40, 41, 42), was voted 1st Team All-Pro 5 times (41, 42, 43 44, 47), is considered to be the first great T-formation quarterback in professional football, went 3/4 for 88 yds 1 TD & rushed 1 time for 1 yd & 1 TD in Chicago's 73-0 win over Washington in 1940 NFL Title game.
Dan Marino Was voted NFL MVP once (84), was voted to 9 Pro Bowls (83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 91, 92, 94, 95), was voted 1st Team All-Pro 3 times (84, 85, 86), at time of retirement was the most prolific passer in NFL history, was 1st QB to ever to pass for 5000 yds in season, set a record for TD passes in season (48), had 13 3,000-yard seasons, set 35 team records, 17 NFL records.
Joe Montana Was voted NFL MVP twice (89, 90), was voted Super Bowl MVP 3 times (81, 84, 89), was voted to 8 Pro Bowls (81, 83, 84, 85, 87, 89, 90, 93), was voted 1st Team All-Pro 3 times (87, 89, 90), led the NFL in passing twice, led the 49ers to 9 NFC West, set 15 teams records, 2 NFL records, 5 post season records and 6 Super Bowl records.
Warren Moon Was voted to the Pro Bowl 9 times (88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 97), set team record in 1st year with Houston, led the NFL in passing twice, set 16 team records with Houston, 8 with Minnesota, 5 with Seattle and set 4 NFL records.
Joe Namath Was voted Super Bowl MVP once (1968), was voted to 5 Pro Bowls (65, 67,68, 69, 72), was voted 1st Team All-Pro once (68), was 1st player to pass for over 4,000 yards in a single season, set 13 team records.
Clarence "Ace" Parker Was voted NFL MVP once (40), was voted 1st Team All-Pro twice (38, 40), was a dual-sport player (football & baseball) was a multiple threat player (run, pass, catch, punt, return, kick, defense), set 3 NFL records.
Bart Starr Was voted NFL MVP once (1966), was voted Super Bowl MVP twice (66, 67), was voted to 4 Pro Bowls (60, 61, 62, 66), was voted 1st Team All-Pro once (66), led the NFL in passing 3 times, led a balanced offensive attack that caused many people to underestimate his passing abilities.
Roger Staubach Was voted Super Bowl MVP once (1971), was voted to 6 Pro Bowls (71, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79), was feared for his ability to scramble out of trouble, led the NFL in passing 4 times, had a reputation for making big plays, set 13 team records, 4 divisional playoff records and 2 Super Bowl records.
Fran Tarkenton Was voted NFL MVP once (1975), was voted to 9 Pro Bowls (64, 65, 67, 68, 69, 70, 74,75, 76), was voted 1st Team All-Pro once (75), threw 4 TD passes & ran for a 5th in first game, led Vikings to six divisional titles and three Super Bowls.
Y. A. Tittle Was voted NFL MVP 3 times (1957, 62, 63), was voted to 7 Pro Bowls (53, 54, 57, 59, 61, 62, 63), was voted 1st Team All-Pro 3 times (57, 62, 63), had 13 300-yard games.
Johnny Unitas Was voted NFL MVP 3 times (1959, 64, 67), was voted to 10 Pro Bowls (57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 66, 67), was voted 1st Team All-Pro 5 times (58, 59, 64, 65, 67), had 26 300-yd games, set 18 team records, 7 NFL records.
Norm Van Brocklin Was voted NFL MVP once (1960), was voted to 9 Pro Bowls (50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 58, 59, 60), was voted 1st Team All-Pro (60), led the NFL in passing 3 times, led the NFL in punting twice, threw a record 554 yds in a 1951 game, was the only man to defeated a Lombardi-coached Green Bay team in championship play.
Bob Waterfield Was voted NFL MVP once (as a rookie) (1945), was voted to 2 Pro Bowls (50, 51), was voted 1st Team All-Pro 3 times (45, 46, 49), led the NFL in passing twice, was a multiposition player, had 20 interceptions as a defender during his career, was known for his ability to throw deep, often led his team to come-from-behind victories.
Steve Young Was voted NFL MVP twice (1992, 94), was voted Super Bowl MVP once (94), was voted to 7 Pro Bowls (92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98), was voted 1st Team All-Pro 3 times (92, 93, 94), is tied with Sammy Baugh as only QB to win 6 NFL passing titles, spent 1st 2 yrs with TB before being traded to SF where he was backup to Joe Montana for 4 yrs, had 6 3000-yd seasons, had 20+ TDs in 5 seasons, was seen as a constant threat as a runner, was known as one of most accurate passers in the league, set 16 team records, 5 NFL records.
Peyton Manning Has been voted NFL MVP 5 times (2003, 04, 08, 09, 13), was voted Super Bowl MVP (06), has been voted to 13 Pro Bowls (99, 00, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 12, 13), has been voted 1st Team All-Pro 6 times (03, 04, 05, 08, 09, 12, 13), in 14 seasons with the Colts led them to 8 division titles, two AFC championships and 1 Super Bowl title, in 2 years in Denver led the Broncos to consecutive division titles, and an AFC championship, has 13 4000-yd seasons, is the Colts all-time leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns, is considered to be the master of the hurry-up offense, his pre-snap routine has earned him the nickname "The Sheriff," has set 57 francise records for the Colts, 10 for the Broncos and 37 NFL records.

When all is said and done, it must be recognized that Manning's career compares favorably with those of the thirty-one quarterbacks that have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. There is little -- if any -- argument against the idea that he will be elected to the Hall of Fame after his retirement. As the ESPN panel suggested, once that happens, the discussion is over.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Once again, feel free to include a thumbnail of your favorite quarterback and how his career compares to the current list of Hall of Fame quarterbacks in the comments section. Please remember:

This is not about who is better than whom, but rather, is your favorite quarterback worthy of a place in the Hall of Fame?

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