Top 15 NFL Quarterbacks of all time

There have been many legendary quarterbacks in the NFL, but which one of them tops the list as the greatest of all time?

Top 15 NFL Quarterbacks of all time
Wade McElwain

Written by: Wade McElwain

(Senior Sports Writer)

Fact checked by: Umaima Saeed

(Sports Writer)

Last updated: 2023-11-21

Top 15 NFL Quarterbacks of all timeIcon

The NFL: where touchdowns reign supreme, epic comebacks are the norm, and quarterbacks are the kings of the field, but who are the Top NFL QB’s of All Time?  Over the years, the league has seen legends rise and shine brighter than the stadium lights.  So let’s look at the top 15 QBs of all time, and find out who gets to perch atop this coveted list? 

It’s always controversial to proclaim a list of ‘The Best’, so here we go!

1. Tom Brady - The GOAT

Of course the GOAT has to top this list, as he has won the most Super Bowls of all-time, and led his teams to prolific performances. Tom Brady is the winningest quarterback in NFL history, with over 89,000 regular season yards, and 649 regular season TDs. What can you say about a man with a 23 year career and a 35-13 playoff record? 

2. Joe Montana - Joe Cool 

Joe Montana was so 90’s, he should have been his own Starter jacket. The epitome of cool under pressure, Joe Montana was 4-0 in his Super Bowl appearances, including some amazing game winning drives. Calm, cool, collected…Joe Montana. 

3. Peyton Manning - The Brainiac

Big-headed Peyton Manning has been known as a bit of a football savant. He could read defenses like he was peeking into their playbook, although not so much that he wasn’t an early interception machine. Plus, those audible calls? Pure gold. Omaha, anyone?

4. John Elway - The Mile High Magician

Another bucking Bronco who brought Peyton to Denver was his boss John Elway.  A stand-out in football and baseball, Elway would go on to win 2 Super Bowls for the Broncos over his 16 seasons there. His fourth-quarter heroics were so frequent, fans just expected miracles.

5. Johnny Unitas - The Original Gunslinger

The OG of classic quarterbacks, Johnny Unitas was the definition of the 60s’ heroic quarterback. Unitas performed like a god of the gridiron, a tough as nails signal-caller during the ‘good old days’ of football. Gone but not forgotten, Unitas was an inspiration to many of the big-named quarterbacks of today. 

6. Drew Brees - Breesus

‘Who Dat?’, why it’s Saints legend Drew Brees didn’t just break records; he shattered them. Accuracy, leadership, and a golden arm -not to mention second on the list for all-time passing yards. A future Hall of Fame, Drew Brees is as bling as his personality. 

7. Brett Favre - Cheesy Gunslinger

You don’t get more ‘Iron Man’ than the Tony Stark of the NFL, Brett Favre. Favre brought more than just throws to the game; he brought enthusiasm, personality, and a willingness to throw a touchdown pass or two hundred. He also has the impressive record of starting 297 consecutive games, and being in the film ‘There’s Something About Mary’.

8. Dan Marino - The Maestro of Fish

Dan Marino may have never won a Super Bowl, but that did stop him lighting it up each and every week in his 17 year career with the Miami Dolphins. With an arm like a cannon, there are numerous Dolphins records that will be held by Marino for a long time. 

9. Steve Young - Dual-Threat Grit

The best back-up to become the face of the franchise, Steve Young was the original dual-threat quarterback. Running, passing, and making defenses look silly, Young amassed 4239 rushing yards in his career, not to mention 3 Super Bowl rings.  He’s also the best lefty on the list. 

10. Terry Bradshaw - The Steel Curtain Commander

Terry Bradshaw wasn’t just a quarterback; he was the architect of a dynasty. With the 'Steel Curtain' defense behind him, he led the Steelers to 4 Super Bowl titles, and solidified the Steelers as the 70s’ team.  While his regular season numbers weren’t amazing, he was consistently post season clutch. 

11. Roger Staubach - Hail Mary Mastermind

On the other side of the 70s’ turf was Dallas Cowboys legend Roger Staubach, who joined the NFL after serving in Vietnam. Winner of two Super Bowls, and highly respected off the field,  Staubach also perfected the Hail Mary, which was named after his efforts. 

12. Aaron Rodgers - A-Rod

Originally a back-up to Packers legend Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers went on to craft his own NFL personality. Known for being able to thread the ball like a needle, Rodgers is able to orchestrate game-winning drives with ease. While his off-field opinions might not suit all, there is no doubting the personality of Aaron Rodgers. 

13. Fran Tarkenton - Sir Francis

Fran ‘Sir Francis’ Tarkenton was an originator of the duel threat QB beast., and Minnesota Vikings legend. You never knew if Fran was going to take off with the ball, as he logged 32 rushing TDs over his career. Sadly Fran never won a Super Bowl, but he still maintains legend status with Vikings faithful. 

14. Bart Starr - Bartlett Starlet

Bart Starr was as iconic and clutch as his surname himself. Bart had the calmness of a monk in pressure-cooker situations during his 16 year career, losing only one playoff game during this span. Starr would go on to win 5 Super Bowl titles, including Super Bowl’s I & II. 

15. Kurt Warner - The Cinderella Story

Kurt Warner’s rise from grocery store clerk to Super Bowl MVP reads like a Hollywood script. From earning $5.50 an hour as a grocery store clerk, to arena football and Super Bowl MVP. Warner might not have the numbers of some of the other legends on this list, but boy is he inspirational, as his story proves that dreams do come true, even in the NFL.

From Montana’s coolness to Brady’s time-defying feats, these quarterbacks didn’t just play the game; they defined eras, leaving a legacy that's etched in pigskin for eternity.

So, next time you're debating the greatest quarterback of all time over a plate of hot wings, remember these legends, and maybe add a sprinkle of their magic to your argument. Because in the NFL, greatness isn't just measured in yards; it's etched in the hearts of fans forever.

Wade McElwain

Wade McElwain

Wade McElwain is our Mr. NFL, a bona fide North American sports nut who knows about NBA, NHL, MLB, PGA plus MMA boxing and more. Originally from Canada, Wade is also an international award-winning stand-up comedian; host of numerous TV game shows; and a TV producer & writer. He also runs NFL in London-the largest NFL fan group in Europe, and has hosted NFL events at Wembley and around the world. Yes, he lives alone and does nothing but watch sports.

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