The Top 10 Most Overlooked Quarterbacks of All-Time

The Top 10 Most Overlooked Quarterbacks of All-Time

The Top 10 Most Overlooked Quarterbacks of All-Time

Photo by Don Wright/AP

Quarterbacks are the face of every NFL team, and most tend to take credit or blame for a team's successes or failures. But even with the allure of the position, there are simply too many quarterbacks whose talents or value went unnoticed throughout professional football history. Here, we’ll highlight ten overlooked quarterbacks and give them the flowers they deserve.

1. Norm Van Brocklin

  • Years Played and Teams: 1949-1960, Los Angeles Rams; Philadelphia Eagles
  • Career Overview: Norm Van Brocklin holds an NFL record for passing yards in a single game (554), which still stands today. In 1960, paving the way to a title game triumph for the Lombardi Packers, he was chosen first-team All-Pro and earned MVP respect.
  • Why he was Overlooked: Van Brocklin Jr. was an excellent quarterback, but he got lost in the shuffle a bit behind some of his peers from that era.
  • Playing Style: Van Brocklin, known for his passing skills and leadership on the field, had a profound impact, helping these teams win several games.

2. Len Dawson

  • Years Played and Teams: 1957-1975 (Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns), Dallas Texansl Kansas City Chiefs
  • Career Stats: Dawson dominated the AFL, leading in completion percentage and touchdown passes on several occasions. He won three championships—his Super Bowl title came in IV, after the 1969 season—and played until he was no longer a kid by NFL standards at 40.
  • Why he was Overlooked: Dawson's statistics and accomplishments are more impressive than they sound, but he frequently gets shortened to be clarified on NFL history for reasons that still aren't entirely clear.
  • Playing Style and Impact: Dawson's accuracy in passing Architected his team to wins, which greatly impacted the game.

3. Fran Tarkenton

  • Years Played: 1961-1978Teams: Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants
  • Career Overview: Tarkenton started all 18 seasons he played in the NFL and threw for over 47,000 yards with three trips to the NFC Championship Game.
  • Why Overlooked: Tarkenton started in the league forever and was consistently good, but his 0-3 record in Super Bowls is more memorable.
  • Playing style and impact: Tark was unlike anyone, really kind of Eli before there was Eli times a million as far as knowing the game, but with much better tools.

4. Warren Moon

  • Years Played: 1984-2000 Teams Stats: Oilers, Vikings, Seahawks (x2), and Chiefs.
  • Moon Recorded an 8-16 record as a starter during his rookie season. Career Overview:4-time Grey Cup champion Moon enjoyed a productive career in Canada spanning over 17 seasons while playing for the Edmonton Eskimos.
  • Why he was Overlooked: Moon's career may rank higher on lists, but he is often forgotten for several reasons.
  • Playing Style and Impact: Moon is one of the most skilled players in every play. He led multiple teams to success based on his talent and was able to help other careers flourish.

5. Steve Young

  • Career Years: 1985-1999 Career Teams: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers
  • Summary: Young won an MVP in a Super Bowl as a starter and had six seasons with the best passer rating in football.
  • Why he was Overlooked: Many times, despite his exceptional numbers and pass success rate, which was the highest of any quarterback in the league at the time, Young suffered as another quarterback era overshadowed him.
  • Playing Style and Impact: Young's adaptability, rifling arm strength, and resiliency made him one of the greatest ex-QBs during that period.

6. Troy Aikman

  • Years Played and Teams: 1989-2000Team(s): Dallas Cowboys
  • Aikman Career Overview: A field general through and trough, standing well over six feet tall in the pocket with a big arm that led Dallas to 3 Super Bowl wins.
  • Playing Style and Impact: Aikman was the vital, calming presence and leader that kept the Cowboys at elite status for most of his career.

7. Kurt Warner

  • Years Played: 1998-2009 Teams played for: St. Louis Rams, New York Giants, Arizona Cardinals
  • Overview: Warner's career was up-and-down, from getting cut to two league MVPs and a Super Bowl MVP to starting three Super Bowls.
  • Why he was Overlooked: Double-dip dystrophies and team-wide factors impacted his footprint throughout, and Warner was permanently caught in cutthroat quandaries over much of his career.
  • Playing style and impact: Warner has shown he can return strongly to the field after facing setbacks, as evident in his records for leading teams that overcome challenges.

8. Ben Roethlisberger

  • Years and Teams: 2004-Present; Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Overview: Big Ben has put together an impressive career filled with highs and lows, not only winning Super Bowls but putting up great numbers when he's been healthy.
  • Why he was Overlooked: Roethlisberger's recognition often comes with a certain tint for myriad reasons, from his team playing style to his suitability in the same era as other high-profile quarterbacks.
  • Playing Style and Impact: Roethlisberger's toughness greatly impacts his ability to lead the Steelers to big victories.

9. John Elway

  • Years Played: 16 (1983-1998) Team: Denver Broncos
  • Summary: Elway enjoyed a largely successful career in the NFL, winning consecutive Super Bowls with the Broncos in 1997 and '98.
  • Why he was Overlooked: Elway was evaluated in his career from many perspectives, which factored into his not being higher on the list of all-time great quarterbacks.
  • Playing Style and Impact: John Elway was integral to the game because of his ability and the locker force behind the Broncos' streaks of success.

10. Drew Brees

  • Years Active: 2001-20 Teams: San Diego Chargers/New Orleans Saints
  • Career Overview: Brees enjoyed long stretches of league-best passing stats during a Super Bowl-winning season and continued to lead effectively in the huddle.
  • Why he was Overlooked: Drew's perception can affect the team's performance or what may be considered his style of play.
  • Playing Style and Impact: His precision passing and ability to lead the Saints and make others better have had a tremendous impact on the game.

 

Each of these unheralded quarterbacks has shaped the framework in some way. Their talents, accomplishments, and influence on the game are worth celebrating while pegged as unsung heroes of NFL lore. We must reconsider the merits of their contributions and appreciate them for forever changing professional football.



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