Who is the best quarterback of all time: Montana, Brady, Unitas, Marino or other?


best quarterback of all time

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We are discussing who is the best quarterback in NFL history. We have shortlisted Montana, Brady, Unitas and Marino. Could you help us add others to the list and decide who is the greatest among them?

Who is best quarterback of all time?

The debate about the all-time best quarterback is contentious. Depending on the statistics taken into consideration, different footballers deserve the title. However, not everything in football is quantifiable. Some of the best quarterbacks of all time became legends due to the their particular play style, the emotions they generated in their fans, their audacity or simply because of some trick plays and memorable moments in specific games. We have shortlisted four players that consistenly appear in most top 10 lists: Joe Montana (San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs), Tom Brady (New England Patriots), Johnny Unitas (Baltimore Colts), and Dan Marino (Miami Dolphins). 

Top quarterbacks in NFL history

Joe Montana

The mythic Joe Montana, nicknamed "The Comeback Kid" and "Joe Cool," was born on 11 June 1956 in New Eagle, Pennsylvania. Montana was such a talented sportsman that he was initially offered a scholarship to play basketball at North Carolina State University. After playing college football for the University of Notre Dame, he joined the San Francisco 49ers in the 1979 draft. Montana managed to transform the previously mediocre 49ers into one of the most successful teams of their time. Football fans will always remember "the catch", his game-winning 92 yard-drive touchdown pass in Super Bowl XXIII. Before retiring in 1994 he joined the Kansas City Chiefs, were he played the last two seasons of his career. The 49ers retired the number 16, the jersey Montana wore.

Joe Montana's stats are impressive: 

  • He won 4 Super Bowls (1981, 1984, 1988 and 1989)
  • Three times Super Bowl MVP (1981, 1984 and 1989)
  • Twice NFL MVP (1989, 1990)
  • Three times first-team All-Pro (1987, 1989, 1990)
  • He completed 3,409 of 5,391 passes for 40,551 yards with 273 touchdowns. Passer rating 92.3


Tom Brady 

The New England Patriots star was born in San Mateo, California on 3 August 1977. Despite some controversies during his career, Tom Brady is an unquestionable contender for the title of best quarterback of all time. As Montana, Brady also excelled in several sports. He turned down an invitation to play baseball for the University of Michigan. Brady had an impressive last season at college and was drafted by the Patriots in 2000. In 2001, due to an injury of the Patriot's starting quarterback, Drew Bledsoe, Brady had the chance to demonstrate his abilities and let the New England team to its first ever Super Bowl victory, and received the MVP award. Fans will always remember the Brady-Manning rivalry and the historic Super Bowl LI victory in 2017, when Brady led a 25-point come-back against the Atlanta Falcons. On LII, despite his brilliant performance the Patriots lost again the Philadelphia Eagles 41-33.

Tom Brady's stats:

  • Brady has won 5 Super Bowls (2002, 2004, 2005, 2015, 2017)
  • Four times Super Bowl MVP (2002, 2004, 2005, 2017)
  • Three times NFL MVP (2007, 2010, 2017)
  • Three times first-team All-Pro (2007, 2010, 2017)
  • He has completed so far 5,629 of 8,805 passes for 66,159 yards with 488 touchdowns. Passer rating 97.6

Johnny Unitas

"The Golden Arm," as Johnny Unitas was nicknamed, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1933 in a family of Lithuanian descent. Despite his humbling beginnings and a not-so-memorable trajectory in college, Unitas was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Unfortunately he was dropped before the season began. A Baltimore Colts' scout noticed him while he was playing for semi-pro Bloomfieds Rams. Unitas was finally given an opportunity in the NFL in 1956. This was the beginning of a legendary career and two years later he was already considered the best quarterback in the NFL. On 28 December 1958, Johnny U led the Colts in their NFL championship victory against the New York Giants, in what became known as the "greatest game ever played." Unitas spent 16 seasons with the Colts and moved to the San Diego Chargers in the last season of his career, in 1973. He died of a heart attack in 2002. 

Johnny Unitas stats:

  • Three NFL Championship (1958, 1959, 1968) and a Super Bowl (1971)
  • Three times NFL MVP (1959, 1964, 1967)
  • Five times First-team All-Pro (1958, 1959, 1964, 1965, 1967)
  • Unitas completed 2,830 of 5,186 passes for a total of 40,2139 passing yards yards with 290 touchdowns. Passer rating 78.2


Dan Marino

Daniel Constantine Marino Jr. was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1961. After a stellar college career in the University of Pittsburgh, Marino joined the Miami Dolphins, in 1983. He led the Florida franchise for 17 seasons, until he retired in 2000. Marino never won an NFL championship and lost his only Super Bowl against Montana's 49ers. However, he is still considered one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. He set dozens of records, of which many are still active, such as the most seasons leading league pass attempts, completions, and lowest sack percentage among others. Marino's famous "clock play" in 1994 against the New York Jets is one of the best trick plays in NFL history. Could Marino career have been even more impressive if he had played in a stronger squad?

Dan Marino's stats:

  • Three times First-team All-Pro (1984, 1985, 1986)
  • NFL MVP (1984)
  • He completed 4,967 of 8,358 passes for 61,361 yards with 420 touchdowns. Passer rating 86.4


Other great quarterbacks in NFL history

  • Peyton Williams Manning
  • John Elway
  • Otto Graham
  • Roger Staubach
  • Steve Young
  • Brett Favre
Who is the best quarterback ever? Vote below and explain your choice and feel free to suggest other names on the discussion forum below!

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Who is the best quarterback of all time: Montana, Brady, Unitas, Marino or other?

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