Whenever there is a discussion about who are the greatest quarterbacks of all time or which quarterbacks have reached that elite category, one of the factors that is usually thrown into the mix is the number of championships that a particular player has won. Clearly, you need to take a look at the overall picture, to include career statistics, longevity, won-loss record, leadership qualities, and the time period in which they played, among other things. But without question, winning championships is a valid consideration.
However, just because a player never took his team to a league championship title or even to the title game itself, doesn’t mean that player did not achieve greatness. So, with that thought in mind, we decided to devote this installment of Top 10 Thursdays to taking a look at the Top 10 quarterbacks who never played in the Super Bowl.
Of course some parameters needed to be established in order to give this category a fair assessment. With the acknowledgement that these are somewhat arbitrary, here is a summary of the lines that were drawn:
For the quarterbacks who were playing prior to that first Super Bowl season (1966) and whose career extended into the Super Bowl era, it was determined that they had to have substantial playing time at the quarterback position for at least five years into the Super Bowl era in order to be considered. The thinking here is that a guy had to have a reasonable opportunity to quarterback his team to the Super Bowl. For instance, it wouldn’t be right for a guy to make this list if he played only one season in the Super Bowl era.
It should be noted that those in this category who were eligible to be considered on this list, were not judged solely on their Super Bowl era years. For the purpose of determining their status as a “top” quarterback, consideration was given to the body of work they amassed over the course of their entire career.
Additionally under this category, a question arose as to what to do with one particular player – George Blanda! The Hall of Fame quarterback and place kicker did appear in Super Bowl II with the Oakland Raiders but that was only in a place kicking role. He certainly put up some exceptional numbers as a quarterback primarily for the Houston Oilers in the early to mid-1960s. But for almost all of the 10 seasons he was active during the Super Bowl era, he was primarily a place kicker.
Now, he did serve as a backup quarterback as well for the Raiders for several seasons and even came off the bench a couple of times to engineer some dramatic comeback wins. But overall, Blanda’s total body of work as a quarterback during the Super Bowl era was very limited and he did not have any significant opportunity to quarterback his team to a Super Bowl berth. So, even if you wanted to discount Blanda’s 1967 Super Bowl appearance as a place kicker only, it was determined that he did not satisfy the criteria to otherwise be considered eligible for this list.
For currently active quarterbacks, it was determined that the player had to be at least 30 years of age sometime during the 2012 season. Here again, the thinking is that the quarterback needed to have a significant number of chances to get his team into the Super Bowl. We went this way in recognition of the fact that the player may not have been a starter early on in his career and also the fact that he has reached the stage in his career where experience comes into play.
This criteria, of course would exclude a guy like Matt Ryan who has quickly become one of the best quarterbacks in the game today. But with only five years of experience under his belt, comparing him to guys with a much longer track record, would seem to be an apples to oranges comparison.
Hart, the long time Cardinals quarterback, had a stellar 19 year NFL career. He threw for over 34,000 yards in his career. He was a four-time Pro Bowler and led the Cardinals to the playoffs twice.
Over the course of his nine year NFL career, Palmer has thrown for nearly 30,000 yards. Despite playing on several poor to mediocre teams during his seven-year run in Cincinnati, this two-time Pro Bowler did lead the Bengals to the playoffs twice.
Brodie played his entire career with the 49ers. Nine of his 17 seasons were played in the years prior to that first Super Bowl, a time when the NFL had that run first mentality. Despite that fact Brodie threw for over 31,000 yards in his career and led the league three times in the passing yardage category. Brodie threw a total of 214 touchdown passes, leading the league twice in that category as well. Brodie was a two-time Pro Bowler and was voted to the All-Pro team once. He led the 49ers to the playoffs three times.
Gabriel played 16 years in the NFL, 11 with the Rams and five with the Eagles. He made the Pro Bowl three times with the Rams and once with the Eagles. Gabriel was voted to the All-Pro team once and led the Rams to the playoffs two times. His career record as a starting quarterback is a very impressive, 86–64–7.
In his nine years with the Cowboys, Romo has a 55 – 38 record as a starter. While some may question Romo being ranked so high or perhaps even being on this list in the first place, I think his numbers definitely support it. Although he’s only started for the Cowboys the past seven years, Romo has thrown for nearly 26,000 yards in his career and he has a total of 177 touchdown passes. At 64.7%, Romo has the highest completion percentage of any of the guys on this list.
Although he seems to have a reputation for throwing an interception at just the wrong time, it is noted that his interception percentage (percentage of times intercepted when attempting to pass) is the second lowest on this list at 2.8%. Romo has been to the Pro Bowl three times and has led the Cowboys to the playoffs three times.