UPDATED: POST SUPER BOWL XLVII!
ESCORTED FROM THE PARTY BY SECURITY: ROMAN GABRIEL
Instead of doing the same old “let’s rank these guys and see where they fall” method, I’ll opt for a bit more of a dividing line. We’re going to use the table process of separating quarterbacks. In other words, when you’re at a wedding reception and seated in an awkward spot like right near the kitchen or in front of a speaker, you’re in Randall Cunningham territory.
That clearly means you’re talented enough to get the invite and make it into the room but at the end of the day you didn’t quite have the credentials to stay away from the awkward seat right near the kitchen. You just lacked the stroke to get a cooler table flanked by a few single women.
So, if I’m having a party inviting the greatest and/or most influential quarterbacks all-time, here is the invite list.
TABLE #8 – LAST ON THE INVITE LIST:
Who Sits Here: Accomplished quarterbacks, who are often forgotten because of the era they played, and other assorted folks.
Jim Plunkett – Nine quarterbacks have won at least two Super Bowls and he’s one of them. Yet, if you asked any football they would probably forget Plunkett.
Len Dawson – He won the Super Bowl MVP but yet it seems the biggest star out of the Super Bowl IV over the Vikings was Chiefs head coach Hank Stram, thanks to NFL Films.
Bert Jones – He could sling it but overshadowed by the other greats of the 70s.
Aaron Rodgers – Since Rodgers is still a young pup, he goes here. Plus, until he gets a second Super Bowl ring, he’s not going to approach the Manning/Brady group in stature even though A-Rod has the same number of rings as Peyton. In his fourth year as a starter in 2011, Rodgers set the NFL record for passer rating with 122.5 on the way to winning the 2011 MVP.
Steve McNair- Much of the same as Jones; someone was always in the way. He won an MVP in ’03 but shared it with Peyton Manning. His team made it to Super Bowl XXXIV but fell a yard short. Also, it seemed like he was hurt every single week. He is considered by some to be the John Wayne of quarterbacks in the 00s.
Ken Anderson – One of the most accurate passers in league history; foiled by Joe Montana in Super Bowl XVI.
Summary – Since Morton was so dreadful in Super Bowls, he had to go. Whenever a new kid on the block comes along (Rodgers), we have to make room. Meanwhile, Plunkett is trying to figure out a way to get closer to the front of the room.
TABLE #7 – IF THEY CAUGHT A FEW BREAKS, THEY WOULDN’T SIT NEAR THE BATHROOM:
Who Sits Here: Fate dealt them a terrible blow at some point during their talented but yet star-crossed careers.
Drew Bledsoe – Could have been a Hall of Famer potentially but instead ushered in the Brady era in New England; and the Tony Romo variety show in Dallas.
Donovan McNabb – Now, a Washington Redskin, McNabb’s star continues to fade after a rough 2010 season. At this party, I’m guessing after a few Hennessy and Cokes, McNabb would have some choice words about Mike Shanahan. Meanwhile, no one freely admits what happened to McNabb during the final five minutes of Super Bowl XXXIX. Between that, T.O., Rush Limbaugh, getting booed on draft day and being benched, I’m pretty sure he’s going to have an awesome book one day.
Boomer Esiason – He lost two memorable games to Joe Montana’s 49ers in the late 80s including the heartbreaking Super Bowl XXIII. Then, he watched as the Bills became the “creators” of the no-huddle offense when the Bengals actually started the concept in ’88.
Y.A. Tittle – Poor fellow. He’s a Hall of Famer but remembered for losing three straight NFL title games from 1961 to 1963.
Joe Theismann – Won Super Bowl XVII but has the stigma of LT and Jack Squirek hanging over his head.
Summary: I’ve got to imagine this would be one angry table except for Tittle, who is probably just happy to be there.
TABLE #6 – THE STORY TABLE:
Who Sits Here: People keep flocking to this table because it has quarterbacks with singular career achievements/moments, but man, they can tell some great stories.
Drew Brees – A season removed from Super Bowl XLIV MVP status, Brees slumped a bit in 2010 by throwing 22 interceptions and losing to the Seattle Seahawks in the the playoffs, the NFL’s first ever 7-9 division winner. He followed it up in 2011 by breaking Dan Marino’s single-season record for most passing yards in a season with 5,476 yards.
Eli Manning – Question. Does he bring David Tyree or Mario Manningham as his plus one? Nonetheless, he can always say he was 2-0 against Brady/Belichick in the Super Bowl.
Joe Namath – I’m not sure one man prospered off of one game more than Namath. Seriously, examine the rest of his career. He was very average and banged up a great deal. Yet, that one guarantee back in January 1969 makes him a legend. Plus, he loves the ladies.
Bob Griese – About midway through the party, Griese would stand up and say this, “how many people in this room have ever played on an undefeated team? Hand down, Brady. You’re regular season only!”
Earl Morrall – Ah yes, the only man who can raise his hand to the aforementioned question. When Griese got injured during the ’72 season, Morrall picked up the pieces and held the fort. While he did manage to lose Super Bowl III, he has three rings.
Ben – Well, well, well. Roethlisberger missed out on ring number three thanks to Mr. Rodgers and the Packers but still is a Super Bowl XL and XLIII winner. Perhaps Namath could give Ben advice on how to approach the ladies…or not.
Joe Flacco – “Hey guys, did you know I just had one of the greatest postseasons for a quarterback in NFL history? Also, you know who Ray Lewis can thank for going out as a winner? Me.” At this point, Griese corrects him and quickly whispers the name “Rahim Moore” in his ear.
Summary: Joe Namath is the king of this table. He’ll buy drinks for everyone while Griese and Morrall will wonder why they aren’t getting all of the attention since they played on the ’72 Dolphins.
TABLE #5 – THE PIONEERS TABLE:
Who Sits Here: Quarterbacks that did something to change how the position was played or who won with under less than great circumstances. Arguably one of the coolest tables in the room.
Benny Friedman – While playing with the Detroit Wolverines in 1928, he led the league in passing and rushing touchdowns. You’ll never see that again.
Bobby Layne – The man won three championships with the Detroit Lions. Enough said.
Sid Luckman – He and Sammy are likely to have a few discussions about Sid’s t-formation and Chicago’s 73-0 win in the NFL title game over Washington.
Sammy Baugh – A QB and a punter, this man one of the first truly great quarterbacks.
Warren Moon – The master of the run and shoot in Houston with enough stories about playoff collapses to fill an eight hour block of television programming.
Randall Cunningham – He helped usher in the running quarterback era but he could also throw it down the field; one of the greatest athletes to play the position. However, he’s hounded by his futility in the playoffs.
Summary: One of the coolest tables in the room. However, Cunningham may be looking to skip out and attend a birthday party for Whitney Houston.
TABLE #4 – THE WEIRD TABLE:
Who Sits Here: The one table that has a hodge podge of quarterbacks from different eras who very little in common.
Sonny Jurgensen – He probably has enough non-football stories to last all night long.
Phil Simms – To this day, he owns the single best completion percentage for a game in Super Bowl history (22-25, 88%). He’d remind the table of this quite often.
John Hadl – A quarterback wearing a number in the 20s? Only Doug Flutie would approve of such a choice.
Kenny Stabler – The Snake lost his fair share of heartbreakers before finally breaking through in Super Bowl XI.
John Brodie – Not only a former NFL MVP but probably the best golfer in the room since he had another athletic career as a golfer.
Norm Van Brocklin – The two-time NFL champion also served as a head coach for the Vikings and Falcons, when there were still relatively new to the league.
Summary: No chemistry or common bonds at this table; just a lot of awkwardness.
TABLE #3 – THE HIGH SOCIETY TABLE:
Who Sits Here: The only way you sit at this table is if you’ve played in at least three Super Bowls.
Troy Aikman – I’m assuming if he brought a date, it wouldn’t be Skip Bayless.
Roger Staubach – I’m assuming if he brought a date, it wouldn’t be Clint Longley.
Fran Tarkenton – This guy is poster child for the phrase “wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time.” His three Super Bowl losses came to a Dolphins team that went undefeated a season earlier, the first Steeler team to a win Super Bowl and the ’76 Raiders, who until that point were always next year’s champions. So sorry Fran.
Jim Kelly – Despite four Super Bowl losses, I think Kelly would be the good time guy at this table.
Kurt Warner – The goody two shoes of the table. He has a ring so he wouldn’t be bitter but has the nasty taste of defeat from a couple of Super Bowls to talk about. This is where he might start the “it would be nice if I got into the Hall of Fame” discussion.
Summary: Kelly and Warner would be the life of the table but for different reasons.
TABLE #2 – THE ENVY TABLE:
Who Sits Here: They feel that they have every right to sit somewhere else. Namely at Table #1. However, mitigating career circumstances prevented them from landing at ultimate spot.
Terry Bradshaw – While he has four Super Bowls, we can’t put everyone at Table #1. Plus, he had the Steel Curtain defense. That’s almost an unfair advantage. Also, he’ll probably tell some stories about Cannonball Run 2.
Steve Young – The NFL’s cerebral assassin at quarterback. People forget he actually has three rings but only the Super Bowl XXIX win as a starter. I don’t think he’ll be downing any kamikazes with Joe Montana at this event.
Dan Marino – Well, at least he’s not the only one at the table who missed out on winning a Super Bowl. By the way, his records are evaporating with each passing season. Sorry Danny.
Peyton Manning – Can you imagine what the media coverage would be like if Manning had Aaron Rodgers’ postseason run en route to winning Super Bowl XLI? He would have received automatic admission into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and probably been knighted. Instead, he has a 9-10 playoff record after another one and done in the postseason. Sorry kids, he’s not the G.O.A.T. to me.
Brett Favre – The end is apparently here for Favre after 20 seasons. Much like Manning, he has a resume that seems a bit naked after the abundance of statistical accomplishments.
Dan Fouts – He’s the quiet one at this table since he doesn’t own a ring or a Super Bowl appearance. At least, he can share stories with Dan Marino about playing with bad defenses.
Summary: Three southerners and a graduate of BYU. Let the good times roll!
TABLE #1 – THE BIG BOYS TABLE
Who Sits Here: Enough championship pedigree to drown the room in rings and you’ll need to get permission to talk to them. They drink Manhattans, Martinis, and Jack straight up, while you’re still trying to down your first Coors Light.
Bart Starr – He lost one championship game in 1960 and then proceeded to win five championships. I suppose his head coach was decent.
Otto Graham – Automatic Otto played in 10 championship games in 10 seasons. I’d say that’s good enough for this table.
John Elway – Terrell Davis and Denver’s tremendous offensive line made it possible for Elway to sit here. Without TD, Elway was 0-3 in Super Bowls. With him, you know the rest. Regardless, one of the most physically gifted players to play the position.
Tom Brady – Two MVPs. Five Super Bowl appearances. Three Super Bowl rings…BUT he has lost to the Giants twice. Once was a fluke and the other New England didn’t make enough plays. On the bright side, Brady is doing things quarterbacks just don’t do these days. He finished with over 5,000 yards passing in 2011 en route to landing the Patriots in another Super Bowl. Even though his fourth Super Bowl ring is becoming rather elusive, having three is not a bad option either.
Johnny Unitas – The late Johnny U played in the “Greatest Game Ever” and also played as a backup in Baltimore’s infamous Super Bowl III loss to Namath’s Jets.
Joe Montana – The king of the castle. Not the most physical gifted, but the best. Considering I named this blog after him, where else would he end up?
Summary: Legend has it that Montana is one of those listener types and not a big talker. Joe would listen and nod to the stories of Brady, Starr, Unitas, Graham and Elway all the while knowing that he is the best of them all.