If you look at the history of professional football, before and after the AFL – NFL merger, It seems the most successful and popular NFL franchises also had
their fair share of great quarterbacks. Is the popularity of the franchise because of the great QB’s? Or the other way around? Is this a chicken or egg thing? In today’s NFL, I’ve heard it said that it’s a ‘quarterback driven league’. Has it always been?
The answer is easy – No..and yes. Quarterbacks have always been in the spotlight, but, particularly in the old days, other members of the teams shared or overshadowed the popularity of their QB’s. Often times those members weren’t players. If we look all the way back to Cleveland in 1945 we can see the dichotomy. The NFL champions were the ‘Cleveland’ Rams and their MVP quarterback, Bob Waterfield was also one the biggest stars in the NFL at the time (he was married to Hollywood star Jane Russell).
But Cleveland’s favorite team was the Cleveland Browns (they weren’t even playing yet!) of the All America Football Conference, because the most popular football person in Cleveland, as well as the whole state of Ohio, was Paul Brown – the coach of the Browns. The Rams moved to L.A. the next year. The popularity of a coach overshadowed the popularity of an MVP quarterback playing for the NFL Champions. That being said, would (or could) the Rams have made the move to Los Angeles if not for the popularity of Bob Waterfield? Would L.A. have been as receptive to the Rams had they not had Hollywood star Jane Russell’s husband as their QB?
The Dallas Cowboys are another example of both being true. Tom Landry, the coach, was as identifiable as any of the players and, arguably, had more to do with their success than any individual player. The popularity of the Cowboys, however, was tied to that success, but also to the star power of Don Meredith and Roger Staubach. The Cowboys have had the good fortune of having their fair share of good quarterbacks in their history which has helped keep them for sure popular and, at times, successful. A great group that includes: Don Meredith, Roger Staubach, Danny White, Troy Aikman and Tony Romo. These quarterbacks, especially Don Meredith and Roger Staubach, helped make the Dallas Cowboys into one the the most – wait – the most popular team in the NFL. But, as far as their QB group, where do the Cowboys rank? What teams have had the best group of quarterbacks in their history?
Many teams have had at least one great quarterback they can hang their hat on (John Elway, Denver Broncos – no – we can’t count Peyton Manning). Some really good franchises have had more than one (Bob Griese, Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins – Otto Graham, Bernie Kosar, Cleveland Browns or Terry Bradshaw, Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers). Seems the most popular franchises had more than one, others had only two, but they were great. This article would be too long to name them all, but I’m sure you all will tell me.
For now I’m just gonna list my top 5 in no particular order, except the #1 team, and be sure to tell me yours.
Cleveland/L.A./StLouis Rams – QBs : Bob Waterfield, Norm Van Brocklin, Roman Gabriel, Vince Ferragamo, Kurt Warner
Dallas Cowboys – QBs : Don Meredith, Roger Staubach, Danny White, Troy Aikman, Tony Romo
San Francisco 49ers – Qbs : Y. A. Tittle, John Brodie, Joe Montana, Steve Young
Green bay Packers – QBs : Bart Starr, Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers
#1 Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts – QBs : Y.A. Tittle, Johnny Unitas, Peyton Manning.
I chose the Colts as the #1 best group of quarterbacks. This team (and with Andrew Luck possibly) has had the good fortune of having 3 of maybe the very best QBs to ever play in the NFL.
LET THE DISAGREEMENTS BEGIN!