There are only a few positions in sports that command the attention and respect that the football quarterback does. Every quarterback in the National Football League faces serious scrutiny and often gets the credit or blame for his team’s performance.

Many players have lined up behind center in the history of the NFL but only a few are considered as legends of the sport. We’ve taken a look at the annals of the NFL and come up with a list of the best quarterbacks in the history of the league. In making our list, we considered stats, wins, awards, and intangibles that separate these QBs from their counterparts.

Here are the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL:

Football Otto Graham

Otto Graham didn’t start playing football until his sophomore year at Northwestern. Still, he ended up as one of the greats to ever play the game.

His NFL career may be shorter than the other players on this list but it was great while it lasted. Graham led the Browns to the league championship game 10 times and won the title seven times. His career mark of 9 yards per attempt is the best even in the history of the NFL and it’s one record that may never be broken. Graham was named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team.

Football Roger Staubach

Roger Staubach had an excellent scrambling ability and he had the penchant for pulling out late victories. The original Captain Comeback had a total of 23 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter. His 50-yard touchdown pass to Drew Pearson was unofficially the first Hail Mary Pass.

Staubach had a 74.6 winning percentage that is hard to ignore. He had the potential to even be better. However, he started his career late, at the age of 27, after serving in the military. Imagine how much more he would have accomplished had he played earlier.

Football Aaron Rodgers

Among the quarterbacks on this list, he may be the one with the most intangibles. Rodgers’ ability to read defenses is close to Peyton Manning’s and his football IQ is among the best we’ve ever seen.

Rodgers is the NFL’s all-time career passer rating leader and is one of two quarterbacks to have a regular-season passer rating of over 100. He owns the best touchdown-to-interception ratio in the history of the NFL at 4.23 and owns the NFL’s lowest career interception percentage of 1.5. Rodgers is a two-time NFL MVP and a one-time Super Bowl MVP.

Football John Elway

John Elway was ahead of his time because of his ability to scramble and run the football. Elway is the only quarterback in NFL history to have at least one rushing touchdown in four different Super Bowls. He was also a clutch performer with six game-winning drives and four fourth-quarter comebacks in the playoffs.

In his 16 year career, Elway rushed for a total of 3,407 yards with 33 rushing touchdowns. He led his team to five Super Bowls but won only two. He is the Top 10 with 300 career touchdowns but also had 226 interceptions to go along with them. Despite his inaccuracy, Elway is one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL because he was one of the most clutch quarterbacks ever.

Football Dan Marino

Dan Marino put up stellar stats because he had an uncanny ability to read defenses and he had one of the quickest releases of any quarterback in the history of the NFL. But he is special because despite playing with little to no help in Miami, he was able to accomplish all his feats and make his teammates better.

Marino never hoisted the Lombardi Trophy but he led his team to 10 playoff appearances in 17 NFL seasons. If we gauge greatness by championships then Marino wouldn’t be on this list. However, the fact that he held many passing records when he retired makes him qualified to be here, with or without a Super Bowl ring.

Football Brett Favre

Brett Favre had one of the strongest arms ever in the NFL. He was also an iron man who started an NFL record 297 consecutive games and once even played on a Monday Night Football game one day after his father passed away.

He threw too many interceptions at 336 but he threw 508 touchdowns during his career and had eight seasons where he threw for at least 30 TDs. He led the league in passing touchdowns during four seasons and although he only has one Super Bowl title, he has 196 regular-season wins. He has a total of 6,300 completions, 71,838 passing yards, and 508 passing touchdowns.

Football Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning is arguably the smartest quarterback in the history of the NFL. His ability to detect coverages is second to none. He evaded pressure like no other and his brilliance enabled him to avoid getting sacked. During his 17 seasons, Manning was sacked only a total of 303 times.

Manning may be one of the best regular-season quarterbacks ever with five NFL MVP awards and was Super Bowl XLI MVP. He holds so many NFL records including 4,000 passing yards seasons with 14, single-season passing yards with 5,477 in 2013, and single-season passing touchdowns with 55 in 2013.

Football Johnny Unitas

Before Joe Montana was Joe Cool, Johnny Unitas was doing what Montana did. His ability to remain calm under pressure made him one of the deadliest passers in the history of the game despite being undersized at 6-0.

Unitas was a three-time MVP and a three-time NFL champion. During his MVP year in 1959, he threw for 2,899 passing yards with 193 completions including 32 touchdown passes. That was unheard of during the time but when you look now, those are the passing numbers of the current NFL game. Unitas also led the NFL in passing touchdowns during four seasons and he once held the record for most games with a passing touchdown with 52 before Drew Brees broke it in 2012.

Football Joe Montana

Joe Montana was grace under pressure. He was a quarterback who was able to operate at a high level despite the pressure. He played 14 seasons for the San Francisco 49ers and led the team to four Super Bowl wins. He was the first quarterback to win three Super Bowl MVP awards and holds the Super Bowl record for most passes without an interception at 122.

Montana was a two-time NFL MVP, six-time All-Pro selection, and 8-time Pro-Bowler. He was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs during his last two NFL seasons and he led Kansas City to its first-ever AFC Championship game appearance. He will always be remembered for his game-winning 97-yard touchdown drive at Super Bowl XXIII.

Football Tom Brady

Tom Brady’s IQ, decision-making, and accuracy make up for his lack of athleticism and arm strength. He played his first 20 NFL seasons with the New England Patriots and led his team to nine Super Bowl appearances, with a record six wins. His four Super Bowl MVPs are also the most by any quarterback.

He is currently second all-time in career regular-season passing yards and career touchdown passes. He is also fifth in career passer rating. Brady is also a two-time NFL MVP and is the only player in the history of the NFL to be named to two different All-Decade teams. He’s never thrown more than 14 interceptions in a season and his completion rate has never gone below 60% as a starter. He is currently the oldest active player in the NFL at 42 years old.

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