Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now

Best Players Not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Quarterbacks

Posted on July 05, 2009 by Dean Hybl

Ken Anderson

Ken Anderson

Continuing the position-by-position look at the best eligible players not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, we now turn our attention to the most visible and scrutinized position on the field: quarterback.

Many would argue that quarterbacks receive too much credit for victories and too much blame in defeat, but the reality is that more than any other position, quarterbacks are evaluated and judged based on the success of their team.

Quarterbacks including Dan Marino, Y.A. Title and Fran Tarkenton are graded down slightly because they never won a championship despite posting huge statistical numbers. At the same time, the lack of dominant statistics are overlooked in quarterbacks like Bob Griese, Troy Aikman, and Terry Bradshaw because they led teams to multiple championships.

Of the 23 modern era quarterbacks that have earned induction in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, only Warren Moon and Sonny Jurgensen never quarterbacked in a conference or league championship game.

In recent years, Hall of Fame voters have inducted a number of players at other positions who were never part of championship caliber teams, but that pattern has rarely extended to quarterback.

Of the 17 modern era players who didn’t participate in a Super Bowl that have been inducted into the Hall of Fame since 1995, Moon is the only quarterback.

The list of top quarterbacks not in the Hall of Fame further illustrates the inconsistencies displayed by Hall of Fame voters, as several seem to possess very similar resumes to some of the quarterbacks that have gained enshrinement.

It is an interesting mix that includes several quarterbacks who were recognized among the best in the game during their careers, but were never able to lead teams to championship heights. However, it also includes a number of quarterbacks who did play in Super Bowls while also earning individual recognition, but for some reason have never been deemed worthy of Hall of Fame induction.

Statistics can be helpful in identifying greatness and were among the criteria evaluated in selecting this list. However, because stats, especially career numbers, can be misleading and have become inflated over the last 30 years, they were just one of several factors used to create the list.

Each player was also evaluated in the context of the time in which he played and for many of the older players, I highlight where they ranked all-time at the time of their retirement.

I looked at how each compared against other players (Hall of Famers and non-Hall of Famers) from that era and whether, at the time of his retirement, the player was considered a legitimate candidate for the Hall of Fame.

Because the Hall of Fame voters give championship success such high priority in selecting quarterbacks, I did look at team success as a measure of consideration. However, I believe that the Hall of Fame voters have placed too much emphasis on that element for quarterbacks, so I did not make it as high a consideration as the voters have.

John Brodie

John Brodie

Below is a list of my choices for the top 10 quarterbacks not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Click here to read more and see pictures of each player in the top 10.

10. Bernie Kosar – Cleveland Browns/Dallas Cowboys/Miami Dolphins – 1985-1996

9. Jim Hart – St. Louis Cardinals/Washington Redskins – 1966-1984

8. Roman Gabriel – Los Angeles Rams/Philadelphia Eagles – 1962-1977

7. John Hadl – San Diego Chargers/Los Angeles Rams/Green Bay Packers/Houston Oilers – 1962-1977

6. Phil Simms – New York Giants – 1979-1993

5. Boomer Esiason – Cincinnati Bengals/New York Jets/Arizona Cardinals – 1984-1997

4. Randall Cunningham – Philadelphia Eagles/Minnesota Vikings/Dallas Cowboys/Baltimore Ravens – 1985-2001

3. Ken Stabler – Oakland Raiders/Houston Oilers/New Orleans Saints – 1970-1984

2. John Brodie – San Francisco 49ers – 1957-1973

1. Ken Anderson – Cincinnati Bengals – 1971-1986

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