Top 6 Best NFL Quarterbacks of All Time
The National Football League has existed for over 100 years and has produced numerous legendary quarterbacks. The quarterback is the field general of the offense as he decides where the ball is going on a play. Below are the six best quarterbacks to have ever played in the NFL.
Who are the best NFL quarterbacks of all time?
1. Tom Brady
- More Super Bowl wins than any NFL franchise (7)
- Three-time NFL Most Valuable Player (2007, 2010, 2017)
- Fourth quarterback ever to start a Super Bowl with multiple teams
- NFL’s All-time leader in passing touchdowns (624) and yards (84,520)
Out of everyone on this list, Tom Brady was the most unlikely story out of all of them. Brady was drafted in the 6th round, pick number 199, in the 2000 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. In one of his first days at the Patriots facility, he famously introduced himself to owner Robert Kraft and said he would never regret taking him. What followed was six Super Bowl wins in 20 years with New England, including a 28-3 comeback over Atlanta in Super Bowl 51. However, perhaps his best season was in 2007, in which he set a then-NFL record with 50 touchdown passes, won his first MVP award, and led New England to a 16-0 regular-season record. The Patriots would lose Super Bowl 42, but Brady did throw a go-ahead touchdown with under three minutes remaining, despite struggling most of the game due to a relentless Giants pass rush. In 2020, Brady decided he needed a new challenge and took his talents to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he won the Super Bowl in his first season with the club.
2. Joe Montana
- Two-time NFL Most Valuable Player (1989, 1990)
- Led the league in completion percentage five times
- Four-time Super Bowl champion (1981, 1984, 1988, 1989)
Throughout the 1980s, Joe Montana was consistently one of the top-performing quarterbacks in the league. He excelled within head coach Bill Walsh’s offensive scheme, called the West Coast Style Offense. Montana could get the ball out fast and be exceptionally accurate, which allowed his receivers to run after the catch, most notably, Jerry Rice. In 1985, Rice joined him to form one of the greatest quarterback-receiver duos in NFL history. Never more evident than in Super Bowl 23 when Montana hit Rice for a 27-yard catch-and-run on the final drive to set up the game-winning touchdown pass to John Taylor.
3. Peyton Manning
- Holds the record for most passing touchdowns (55) and yards (5,477) for a season (2013)
- Started in two Super Bowls for both the Colts (2006, 2009) and the Broncos (2013, 2015)
- Holds the record for MVP awards in a career (five)
Peyton Manning was the rival of Tom Brady and vice versa. Manning and his brother, Eli, are the only quarterbacks to have a winning record against Brady in the postseason with a minimum of two games played. Peyton was known as the “sheriff.” He had an uncanny ability to recognize any defense and figure out where he would throw the ball before the ball was snapped. In other words, he made pre-snap football famous by basically turning the art of quarterbacking into a science. When all was set in done, he had the most passing touchdowns and yards in NFL history but would be passed quickly by Drew Brees and Tom Brady. Manning also retired with two Super Bowl victories, including one his final season in the NFL.
4. Dan Marino
- Led the league in passing yards and touchdowns three years in a row (1984-86)
- Nine-time Pro Bowler
- Won the NFL’s 1984 Most Valuable Player award
Perhaps nobody has had a better single season in NFL history than Dan Marino’s 1984 campaign. Marino shattered both the single-season passing yards (5,084) and touchdowns (48) records. Both achievements stood for 20 or more seasons. That year, Marino led the Dolphins to the Super Bowl but lost to the 49ers led by Joe Montana. Unfortunately, Marino never got back to the big game, losing in the conference championship the following season and in 1992. He was arguably the most prolific passer of his era and dominated the stat sheet like no one else prior, but not having a Super Bowl win is the only “blemish” on his otherwise Hall of Fame career.
5. John Elway
- Two-time Super Bowl Champion (1997, 1998)
- Nine-time Pro Bowler
- Member of the 1990s All-Decade Team
John Elway was considered a “generational” quarterback prospect before the 1983 NFL Draft, and he delivered. Elway led the Broncos to five Super Bowl appearances during his 16-year career, winning two. He also had a knack for comebacks as he led 47 fourth-quarter comebacks throughout his career. Perhaps his most famous one was against the Browns in the 1986 AFC Championship Game. On the road and pinned at his own two-yard line with under five minutes to play, Elway led his team all the way down the field for a touchdown to tie the game at 20. Denver would eventually win in OT, giving Elway his first Super Bowl victory.
6. Aaron Rodgers
- Three-time NFL Most Valuable Player (2011, 2014, 2020)
- Member of the 2010s All-Decade Team
- Super Bowl Champion (2010)
- Four-time first team All-Pro
Aaron Rodgers is considered one of the most efficient passers in NFL history. Rodgers currently holds the two highest single-season passer rating seasons ever (122.5 in 2011 and 121.5 in 2020), and he’s currently second all-time in that category. Rodgers is also a three-time MVP, with arguably his best season coming in 2020, in which he threw for a league-best 48 touchdowns to just five interceptions and led the league in completion percentage. He followed up that campaign with a 12.5-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2021, the best mark ever for a quarterback with a minimum of 500 attempts. Rodgers won his only Super Bowl in 2010 and was named Super Bowl MVP, throwing for over 300 yards and three touchdowns. Aaron Rodgers’ career has been nothing short of impressive, making it more than likely he will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame following his retirement.
Who is the greatest NFL quarterback of all time?
Most people consider Tom Brady the greatest NFL quarterback of all time. He has the longevity (22 seasons), stats, and wins (seven Super Bowls), making him the complete package in any G.O.A.T discussion. Brady retired as the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns; he has also won more Super Bowl rings than any player or franchise in NFL history.
What quarterback holds the record for the most Super Bowl rings won?
Tom Brady’s seven Super Bowls are the most ever for a quarterback in the NFL. Brady also holds the record for most appearances in the Super Bowl with nine total. After that, Joe Montana is second on the list, with four Super Bowl rings. Only 12 quarterbacks in NFL history have started and won two or more Super Bowls.
What NFL quarterback has thrown the most touchdown passes?
The quarterback with the most touchdown passes in NFL history is Tom Brady, with 624. He is the only quarterback ever to eclipse the 600 mark and averaged over 30 touchdown passes per season. Brady also led the NFL in touchdown passes five times throughout his career, including the first-ever 50 touchdown season in 2007.