Digit Dominance: Ranking the best QBs by jersey numbers
Is Terry Bradshaw the best QB to wear No. 12? Or is it Tom Brady? Rudy Klancnik ranks the quarterbacks by jersey number.
Still, that's what makes a list like this fun -- and totally unscientific. Feel free to let us know whether you agree or disagree with our picks, or if we've missed one of your favorites. And because we're ranking only Nos. 1-19, we'll apologize in advance to the memory of Slingin' Sammy Baugh (No. 33), among other "20s-plus" QBs.
2 -- Yeah, not really anyone else of note. Good thing Moon was really good. He did jersey No. 1 proud.
2. Aaron Brooks -- Great game one week, pathetic the next. That's the story of a roller-coaster career.
3. Tim Couch -- Could've, should've, would've been a NFL superstar as well as Cleveland's savior. Too bad close counts only in horseshoes and hand grenades.
2. Bobby Hebert -- Before Drew Brees came to town, this Saints tough guy fit the franchise like a snug pair of receiver gloves. Not a big stats producer, Hebert led by example and produced a solid career.
3. Joey Harrington -- The next Joe Montana never realized the promise he showed at Oregon, washing out in Detroit after getting picked No. 3 overall. Now the vagabond QB is lucky to stick in one place more than a full season.
4. Rick Mirer -- Another collegiate star (at Notre Dame, no less) who flamed out in the pros and fried the Seahawks for several seasons because of it.
1. Brett Favre -- Some, particularly those living in Wisconsin, will argue that he's the greatest QB in the history of the game, especially now that he owns all of the league's cherished records. Surely his final pass won't be an interception that led to an overtime loss to the Giants. Say it ain't so, Brett.
2. Jim Harbaugh -- A throwback who led with grit and bravado, Harbaugh produced a good pro career after a stellar stay in Ann Arbor. Harbaugh's NFL claim to fame was leading the Colts to the 1995 AFC title game for the ages against the Steelers. Now he's trying to resuscitate the Stanford Cardinal as head coach.
3. Steve Walsh -- He actually created a QB controversy with Troy Aikman in Dallas before the Cowboys came to their senses. Walsh's subpar arm never could withstand the rigors of the zone blitz.
2. Kerry Collins -- He led the Panthers to the 1996 NFC title game and the Giants to a Super Bowl, but 0-2 in those two big games pretty much summed up his career. Honorable Mention
• Terry Hanratty -- Backing up Terry Bradshaw usually led to many shots of Hanratty standing next to Chuck Noll on the Steelers' sideline.
2. Marc Wilson -- A great career at BYU never translated to success with the Raiders.
2. Joe Theismann -- Remembered mostly for the way he left the game (a nasty broken leg from a Lawrence Taylor sack on Monday Night Football), Theismann had a stellar career as the Redskins' inspirational leader.
3. Ben Roethlisberger -- In his second year, he became the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl, guiding the Steelers to a win in SB XL, and last season he showed he can put up numbers with the best and brightest in the NFL. The future looks bright as long as he stays away from his motorcycle.
4. Bert Jones -- Once upon a time Baltimore did have good quarterback play back in the '70s when Jones was calling the shots for the then-Baltimore Colts.
5. Boomer Esiason -- Boomer came within 58 seconds off pulling off a monumental upset of the 49ers in Super Bowl XXIII. He put up big numbers in Cincy and later for the New York Jets.
• Craig Morton -- He ignited the city of Denver during a glorious Orange Crush rush to the Super Bowl. Cowboys fans remember Morton wearing No. 14.
• Ron Jaworski --The most obvious nickname in football history, Jaws led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl berth.
• Dan Pastorini -- If not for the Steel Curtain, Pastorini might have led Houston to a couple of Super Bowl victories.
• Michael Vick -- Maybe it should be dishonorable mention, given his current circumstances. But there's no denying the unique skills he brought to the position.
1. Troy Aikman -- He barely edges Steve Young because of championships (3 to 1) and because the Cowboys defined the '90s.
2. Steve Young -- Replacing Joe Montana isn't for the faint of heart, yet Young managed to continue the 49ers' dominance even though the Cowboys often stood in their way.
3. Archie Manning -- Running for his life is the way most remember his days in New Orleans, but his knack for making plays where none existed deserves notice. Oh yeah, fathering two Super Bowl quarterbacks is a nice encore.
4. Mark Brunell -- The Jaguars' best-ever player, Brunell helped put Jacksonville on the NFL map.
5. Matt Hasselbeck -- After emerging from Favre's shadow to start in Seattle, Hasselbeck is the league's best-kept secret thanks in large part to his address in the Pacific Northwest.
2. Sonny Jurgensen -- A rocket right arm and determination unmatched by his opponents, Jurgensen was the Redskins' go-to guy in the late '60s.
3. Steve McNair -- McNair nearly became a household name, but his receiver came up just short of a game-tying TD as the Rams edged the Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV. McNair is considered one of the toughest to ever play the position.
4. Carson Palmer -- The Heisman winner looks like a bona fide NFL star every time he drops back and throws a laser beam pass for the Bengals. But for some reason, it's just not translating into success in the standings.
5. Drew Brees -- His first season in New Orleans was nothing shy of miraculous for the team and the city.
• Tony Romo -- We can't put him into the top five until he wins a playoff game, but his brilliant regular season was the stuff of Cowboys legend. Word of advice: Date someone we don't know.
2. Jim Zorn -- He helped establish a franchise with his southpaw darts to Steve Largent for the Seahawks.
3. Trent Green -- Big numbers without big success translates into a solid fantasy football career and little more.
4. Marc Bulger -- Sort of the same as Green. In fact, have you ever seen these guys together?
5. Eli Manning -- He'll vault in front of Zorn if his Giants win Super Bowl XLII. Peyton's little brother changed a lot of minds in December and January.
• Kordell Stewart -- Any QB that goes by the nickname "Slash" because of his ability to play multiple positions earns some kudos. Unfortunately, quarterback was possibly his weakest position.
• Chad Pennington -- An arm injury has hindered what looked like a promising career in the Big Apple.
• Don Strock -- Perhaps the greatest backup quarterback in NFL history; there should be a clipboard with his name on it in Canton.
• Vince Young -- It's too early to know what to make of the former Longhorns stud.
2. Danny White -- Following in the footsteps of Roger Staubach has no upside. His inability to get the Cowboys to a Super Bowl is held against him. But don't forget how productive this guy was in Big D.
3. Phil Simms -- He defined the term "managing the game" and has a Super Bowl MVP for his management duties with the Giants.
4. Joe Kapp -- Wore No. 22 during his CFL days in Calgary, but reduced it in half in Minnesota. Led the Vikings to Super Bowl IV.
5. Greg Landry -- Lions legend suffered through some tough times for some bad teams. He later returned to the club as its QB coach.
6. Drew Bledsoe -- Being replaced by Tom Brady in New England and by Tony Romo in Dallas might be his legacy. Bledsoe was an excellent QB in his own right, especially early on in New England after being selected No. 1 overall.
• Daunte Culpepper -- Pro Bowler in Minnesota when throwing to Randy Moss. Just another QB when not throwing to Moss.
• Mark Rypien -- Super Bowl MVP and Joe Gibbs' third different QB to win the big game.
• Tony Eason -- No completions in his Super Bowl debut. But it was against the '85 Bears so give Tony a break.
2. Tom Brady -- His 100-26 record as a starter is the best of any QB (with 40 starts) in the Super Bowl era. Another big performance Sunday could push Brady above Bradshaw.
3. Joe Namath -- His guarantee to beat the Colts in Super Bowl III earned him headlines. Delivering on that promise made him a legend.
4. Roger Staubach -- That Roger the Dodger ranks just fourth on this list shows you how deep the talent pool is at No. 12.
5. Jim Kelly -- 0-4 in the Super Bowl shouldn't cloud this guy's Hall of Fame career. But, of course, it does.
• Bob Griese -- Back-to-back Super Bowl titles, one that included a perfect season, isn't too shabby for the always-under-control Griese.
• Ken Stabler -- The Snake epitomized the Raider Nation before it was called the Raider Nation. The Holy Roller remains one of our favorite highlights.
2. Kurt Warner -- The former Arena Football League star won a Super Bowl for the Greatest Show on Turf and produced one of the best-ever comeback stories in league history.
2. Y.A. Tittle -- Hall of Famer for the Giants, he tossed 36 touchdowns in 1963 during an era when the throwing downfield was not exactly en vogue.
3. Otto Graham -- He helped the fledgling Browns become feared and also won a title in professional basketball for the Rochester Royals. Now that's a two-sport star.
4. Steve Grogan -- Don't let the neck brace fool you. Grogan could take a licking and come back strong. He was the face of the Patriots during his tenure.
5. Ken Anderson -- Underrated signal caller from Cincinnati, Anderson would have been a star had he played in New York or Los Angeles. He threw 29 TDs during the Bengals' first Super Bowl run.
• Eddie LeBaron -- Before the Cowboys became America's Team, LeBaron did his best to make them respectable. He often came up short.
• Craig Morton -- He wore No. 14 in Dallas and shared the QB duties with former midshipman Roger Staubach.
2. Jack Kemp -- Presidential candidate, U.S. congressman. Yeah, Kemp did more than just play football. But his days as the leading man in Buffalo are fondly remembered by AFL historians.
3. Earl Morrall -- The disappointment of a shocking loss to Namath's Jets never really faded, although his heroics during the Dolphins' perfect season do deserve special attention.
4. Jeff Hostetler -- After six-plus years holding a clipboard, Hoss got his shot when Phil Simms broke his leg. All he did was engineer a Super Bowl run that culminated with a victory over the Bills in Super Bowl XXV.
5. Vince Ferragamo -- Hollywood good looks and a powerful right arm were nearly too good to be true. All he needed was a Super Bowl win over the Steelers. And he came thisclose to pulling off that miracle.
2. George Blanda -- The old man kicked field goals later in his career, but he could sling it for the Raiders in his prime.
3. Jim Plunkett -- Two Super Bowl wins and one MVP award, the Raiders have their favorite No. 16 on their side of the Bay Bridge (not to mention parts of L.A.).
4. Len Dawson -- Super Bowl IV MVP was a nice follow-up for the AFL after Namath's heroics.
5. Vinny Testaverde -- He may someday supplant Blanda as the oldest player in NFL history. Don't be surprised if he shows up in Miami with Bill Parcells.
• Norm Snead -- Played 16 seasons for five different teams, and made the Pro Bowl four times. Threw for more than 30,000 yards and nearly 200 TDs.
2. Doug Williams -- In one quarter, Williams forever put his name into Super Bowl lore with four TD passes against the Broncos.
3. Billy Kilmer -- It wasn't pretty, but it was inspirational. The former UCLA star was known as much for his partying as his on-field exploits. He did connect on a league-leading 19 TDs during the Redskins' first-ever Super Bowl season.
4. Brian Sipe -- The Dawg Pound was formed because of guys like Sipe, whose touchdown throws to Ozzie Newsome ignited Cleveland football in the '80s.
5. Jim Hart -- The Cardinals became a serious contender with Hart under center. The former Southern Illinois great later became the school's athletic director.
2. Roman Gabriel -- The first Asian-American (he's of Filipino descent) to start at quarterback in the NFL, Gabriel was a prolific passer for the Rams and Eagles. He won the league MVP in 1969.
3. Tobin Rote -- A three-time All-Pro player despite throwing more interceptions (191) than TDs (148) in his 13-year career.
2. Bernie Kosar -- When the Browns drafted the former Miami Hurricane star, Cleveland owner Art Modell encouraged him to go with No. 19 to honor Johnny U.
3. Joe Montana -- Watching him wear No. 19 in Kansas City took some adjusting, but some of Montana's magic returned. Rudy Klancnik is a freelance writer based in Texas.
HOT READ: TOM BRADY
Patriots QB Tom Brady already has produced a record-setting regular season, and after this weekend, he could snag his fourth Super Bowl win. So where does he rank among the all-time greats? Check out our special two-part Hot Read on Brady.
Part I: Is Brady the best ever?• Sando: Ranking the all-time great QBs
• ZOOM gallery: Top 10 QBs of all time
• NFL Live: Who is greatest QB ever?
• Chadiha: Ranking the best QBs by decade
• Klancnik: Best QBs by jersey numbers
• Scouts Inc.: Ranking the top 64 QBs of today
• SportsNation: Rank the greatest QBs | Vote
• SportsNation: Think you know QBs?
• Super Bowls: Ranking every QB's performance
• Fantasy: Greatest Super Bowl QBs
Part II: Becoming a star• Garber: A perfect life ... but with insecurities
• Hashmarks: Remembering the Michigan days
• What would Tom say to others?
• The supermodel's family cheers for Brady
• Hill: Just call him Teflon Tom
SUPER BOWL XLII
In a rematch of their Week 17 game, the unbeaten Patriots will play the red-hot Giants in Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Ariz.
Super Bowl Central
• Hashmarks blog: Mosley, Sando in Arizona
Commentary/Features• Chadiha: Giants miss Shockey
• Garber: Injured war vet inspires Giants
• Pasquarelli: The Pats' crucial cameos
• Merrill: Hixon's traumatizing season
• Football Outsiders: SB number crunching
• Pasquarelli: Patriots' silent sentinel
• Wojciechowski: Unflappable Eli
• Chadiha: Giants' rookies playing prominent role
• Fleming: Cardinals/Pottsville Curse
• Clayton: Youth serving Giants well
• Hashmarks: Media day coverage | Gallery
• Pasquarelli: Pats' old-school LBs
• Helyar: Marketing windfall for Eli Manning
• Garber: Seau's ring quest
• Pasquarelli: Bruschi's full-circle journey
• Animated plays
• Chadiha: Pierce just wants to win
• Wojciechowski: Explaining Bill Belichick
• Helyar: Recession? Not at Super Bowl!
• Giants' Snee doesn't stray from roots
• Sando: Seymour in eye of storm
• Merrill: Welker scales new heights for Pats
• Pasquarelli: Brady is ready to play
• Garber: The preservation of Plaxico
• Pasquarelli: Hill's spirit lives on
• Clayton: Giants' juggling act at CB works
• Wickersham: Giant ideas
• Klosterman: All too perfect
• Crown Jewels: A look at Super Bowl rings
• FB Outsiders: Giants one of worst SB teams
• Helyar: Patriots will drive TV ratings
• Clayton: First and goal
• Chadiha: Giants' glory road
• Mosley: Brady's ankle saves the week
• Woj: Preseason predictions revisited
• Merrill: David Woodley's dark spotlight
• Former SB QBs: Plunkett | Rypien | Ferragamo
• More: Morton | Humphries | Hostetler | Eason
• Starting matchups of Super Bowl QBs
• Ranking the QB performances: 1-40 | 41-82
• Jaworski: Six Super Bowl surprises
• Joyner: Brady's bad decisions
• Clayton: Eli's managing fine
• Chadiha: Focused Giants
• AccuScore simulation: Pats to prevail
• Chadiha: First Look at the Super Bowl
• Playoff schedule
Page 2• Hill: Teflon Tom Brady
• Hill: Raiders quit on Moss
• Flem File at the Super Bowl
• Fleming: Defining greatness
• Best teams never to win a title
• TMQ: Title-game analysis
• Why Boston teams are so good
• Gallo: Countdown to kickoff
News• Brady ankle not on injury report
• Brady on Plax prediction: Only 17 points for Pats?
• Carey named first black Super Bowl referee
• Brady practices in Pats' first Super Bowl session
• Ross gets sick as unified Giants face flu
• NFL not worried about spying
• Security high for Super Bowl
• Williams to be honored during Super Bowl
• Bootless Brady departs for Arizona
• Tickets reselling for average of $4,300
• Burress: Giants' receivers are better
Scouts Inc.• Scouts: Running-game breakdown
• Horton: Notes from the film room (Day 4)
• QB tale of the the tape
• Horton: Notes from the film room (Day 3)
• Ranking NFL QBs 1-64
• Take II on Super Bowl XLII
• Giants' DBs overmatched or underrated?
• Horton: Notes from film room (Day 2)
• Horton: 10 things to watch in SB XLII
• Horton: Notes from the film room (Day 1)
• A tale of two underrated O-lines
• Take I on Super Bowl XLII
• Players ranked Nos. 1-106
SportsNation• Vote: Which team will win?
• Vote: Who wins the head-to-head matchups?
• Vote: Which team are you rooting for?
• Conversation: Talk Super Bowl XLII
• Map: Which states are picking the Giants?
• Quiz: 42 Super Bowl history questions
• Chat: Hello from Arizona!
• Chat: Live from Media Day
• Chat: Prop bets, Subway's Jared and more!
• Rank: Super Bowl's best individual performances
• Rank: Super Bowl coaches
• Rank: Super Bowl careers
• Rank: Greatest all-time quarterbacks
• Vote: Potential for QB greatness?
• Quiz: Greatest quarterbacks