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25 Greatest Quarterbacks in NFL History

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Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

When it comes to the greatest quarterback in NFL history, Tom Brady is No. 1

There is no more revered or analyzed position in the NFL than quarterback. Besides all of the statistics that are associated with signal-callers, especially in today’s pass-happy game, it’s the only position that attributes wins and losses with any regularity. 

While the quarterback position has certainly evolved throughout history there have been those field generals who have distinguished themselves from their peers regardless of the era in which they played. Taking statistical success as well as team accomplishments into consideration while acknowledging when they played, here are the 25 best quarterbacks in NFL history.

25. Joe Namath, 1965-77

JoeNamath_slide

Namath is probably best known for his pre-game prediction that his Jets would defeat the heavily favored Colts in Super Bowl III. Not only did Namath’s unlikely prediction come to fruition, he earned Super Bowl MVP honors in the process for his outstanding performance. Namath also is well documented for his flamboyant Playboy lifestyle off of the gridiron. Broadway Joe may not have the statistical accomplishments of others on this list, but his legendary status, on and off the field, are more than enough to garner a place on the list. It would be sacrilege to have an NFL’s greatest quarterback list without Joe Willie Namath.

Record

62-63-4

Playoff

2-1

StatTotal

Comp

1,886

Att.

3,762

%

50.1

Yard

27.663

TD

173

INT

220

Rat.

65.5

GWD

16

Rush

140

TD

7

24. Dan Fouts, 1973-87

DanFouts_slide

Fouts spent his entire 15-year career with the San Diego Chargers. He led the NFL in passing for four consecutive seasons from 1979-82, becoming the first player in history to throw for more than 4,000 yards for three straight years. For his efforts, Fouts was named NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year in 1982. He also was elected to six Pro Bowls during his career and is widely recognized as the most prolific passer of his era. Fouts’ never made it to the Super Bowl, which obviously hurts his overall stock to some degree, but his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993 speaks volumes.

Record

86-84-1

Playoff

 3-4

StatTotal

Comp

3,297

Att.

5,604

%

58.8

Yard

43,040

TD

254

INT

242

Rat.

80.2

GWD 

26

Rush

476

TD

13

23. Philip Rivers, 2004-20

PhilipRivers_2013_hotseat_slide

The NC State product was selected fourth overall by the Giants in the famed 2004 QB draft class that also included Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning. But in a bizarre turn of events, Rivers was immediately traded to the Chargers for No. 1 overall pick Manning after he refused to sign with the Chargers. Rivers never looked back en route to a stellar 16-year run as a San Diego/Los Angeles Charger, winning more games than any other quarterback in franchise history. He also holds practically every passing record in Chargers' franchise history, including passing yards, passing touchdowns, completions, and completion percentage. While he never made an appearance in the Super Bowl, his overall success as one of the most prolific passers of all time is matched and surpassed by only a select few. The eight-time Pro Bowler ranks among the top five quarterbacks in NFL history in passing yards and touchdown passes. Rivers spent the final season of his 17-year NFL career as a member of the Indianapolis Colts, leading them to a wild-card berth.

Record

134-106

Playoff

5-7

StatTotal

Comp

5,277

Att.

8,134

%

64.9

Yard

63,440

TD

421

INT

209

Rat.

95.2

GWD

35

Rush

601

TD

3

22. Jim Kelly, 1986-96

JimKelly_slide

While Kelly never managed to win the big game, he is the only quarterback in NFL history to lead his team to four consecutive Super Bowls. The Buffalo Bills' all-time passing and wins leader made his way to five Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro in both 1991 and '92. Before joining the Bills, Kelly spent two seasons with the Houston Gamblers of the USFL, winning league MVP honors in 1984. His Hall of Fame NFL career spanned 11 seasons, tallying a stellar 101-59 record with a career completion percentage of better than 60 percent.

Record

 101-59

Playoff

9-8

StatTotal

Comp

2,874

Att.

4,779

%

60.1

Yard

35,467

TD

237

INT

175

Rat.

84.4

GWD

29

Rush

1,049

TD

7

21. Eli Manning, 2004-19

EliManning_slide

The former No. 1 overall draft pick out of Ole Miss entered the NFL in the shadow of older brother Peyton Manning, but it wasn’t long before Eli began paving his own way into the annals of greatness among NFL quarterbacks. The younger Manning is the New York Giants' all-time passing leader and the winningest quarterback in franchise history. He was a perfect 2-0 in Super Bowl appearances, winning MVP honors in both games. He ranks in the top 10 in career passing yards, touchdown passes, attempts and completions, as well as total offense. He also holds several postseason records and is tied for the longest touchdown pass in NFL history (99 yards). Following a stellar 16-season career, all with the New York Giants, Manning officially announced his retirement from football after the 2019 season. He appears to be a fairly safe bet for eventual induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Record

117-117

Playoff

 8-4

StatTotal

Comp

4,895

Att.

8,119

%

60.3

Yard

57,023

TD

366

INT

244

Rat.

84.1

GWD 

37

Rush

567

TD

7

20. Kurt Warner, 1998-2009

KurtWarner_slide

Warner is quite possibly the greatest success story in NFL history. From undrafted prospect out of college to grocery store clerk earning $5.50 an hour to Arena League star to Super Bowl champion and MVP. He would ultimately go on to a storybook career with the Rams, Giants and Cardinals that spanned 12 years. Warner took home NFL MVP honors in 1999, 2001 and '08. He also was named to four Pro Bowls. He eventually made his way back to the Super Bowl after a successful 2008 campaign with the Cardinals. Unfortunately, he was unable to take home a second Lombardi Trophy. Warner is widely considered one of the most accurate and efficient passers in NFL history. He was part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2017.