It’s a couple of days after Christmas and both Kathy and I are playing host to winter colds. Whereas I’m predominantly a happy soul, except when I’m not, this combination of a persistent low-grade head throb, plugged sinus cavities, and scratchy throat has me a little on the grumpy side.

Thus far, no target has earned the wrath of my grump, so I’ve taken it out on the TV remote, which has been unable to find entertaining programming over the holidays. (I really hate it when all of our favorite weekly’s take a 2 to 3 week hiatus all at once, but that’s subject matter for another grumpy ramble).

Thankfully, on the Saturday following Christmas, Twitter gifted me a prized punching bag, worthy of the ire and durable enough to not even acknowledge the barrage of left hooks and right crosses that I’m about to lay down.  My pop-up Bozo punching dummy is…. The NFL’s Top 100 List.

Specifically, my quarrel is with the list that was trending this morning on Twitter – The Quarterbacks.

A total of 10 QB’s were listed. Most names I felt belonged; a few were questionable, but I could see the reasoning.

The problem is inherent to the rules of the process. The NFL is creating the Top 100 to celebrate the league’s 100th anniversary and here’s the issue – there are too many players to choose from and too many eras to represent. In essence, there’s not enough room for everyone who’s deserving and there’s a nagging necessity to include names from the days that only great grandpa remembers.

The assertion that some “special” player from the days of Black & White broadcasts could play “in any era” is utterly short-sighted. He may have been a great natural athlete in his time, but today’s athlete is more of a specialist who eats, sleeps, lives, and breathes for one purpose – their chosen sport, which is their profession.

Back-In-The-Day athletes played a variety of sports. They played their primary sport when it was in season. They may have worked a regular 9-to-5 in the off season. They weren’t conditioned, molded, and primed by specialized training. They didn’t play in glorified facilities or ply their “trade” on immaculately manicured fields. They didn’t have premium, scientifically developed equipment. They were just ballplayers, who excelled at a particular sport more than most and were recruited to play in front of paying crowds, which was a relatively new concept at the time.

To compare a player from the 60’s or 70’s with today’s athlete is a stretch, because listing a player from that era or earlier beside his modern-day counterpart is akin to arguing that my brother’s 1972 Chevy Chevelle and his best friend’s GTO belong in the field for February’s Daytona 500. They were great cars. And, they may have been competitive back in the days when drivers were actually racing “Stock Cars,” but they don’t belong on today’s NASCAR track because they weren’t constructed in the same way, with the same endgame in mind.

In many instances, today’s athlete has been training for his (or her) profession since they were in middle-school. They’ve gradually moved through the ranks to become groomed by the best coaches. They’ve trained in the best facilities, play on the best of fields, using the best of equipment. They’ve been counseled on what to eat and what to avoid. They have no “off season” and once they’ve ascended to the higher levels, they are usually sharpening their skill set against the best of competition.

Could great grandpa’s heroes ascend the ranks in their chosen sport today, given the same blueprint and path? Maybe… but it’s a question that can’t be answered accurately until every home is equipped with a time-travel device.

So, back to the list of 10 QB’s that started this rambling grumble. The anointed included Brady, Favre, and Manning (Peyton, not Eli) from the most recent generation. Montana, Elway, and Marino represented the generation before. Roger Staubach was plucked from the decade of the 60’s-70’s. Johnny Unitas was chosen to represent the 50’s-60’s. Then Sammy Baugh and Otto Graham were included to pay homage to days of leather helmets and mud.

All may have been great in their time, but there’s the qualifier – in their time.

Do you think the Seattle Seahawks would, for an eye-blink of time, consider the opportunity to replace Russell Wilson with a newly-minted Otto Graham? Would the 49ers trade the next 8-10 years of Jimmy Garappolo for a freshly cloned Slingin’ Sammy Baugh? There’s not a chance… Not A Chance!

Today’s game is different. Colin Kaepernick can sling a football 70 yards and run like a starving greyhound, for cryin’ in the sink, but he can’t play in today’s NFL because he can’t read a defense. For all the press he’s gotten over the last three years or so, what’s often left out of the headline is that he quit on his team while he was under contract and that he was replaced as the starting QB by Blaine Gabbert. Blaine Gabbert, ladies and gentlemen, who’s still in the league as a backup in Tampa. Pffffttt!

My suggestion for the NFL would have been to redefine your celebratory Top 100 list into a pair of Top 100’s – One from the Super Bowl Era, which does encompass some heroes from yesteryear, and one from the days of the Founding Fathers, which would be the All Black & White Film list.

Under these guidelines, I’d remove Baugh, Graham, and Unitas from the list, replacing them with a trio of QB’s that are more appropriate.

QB #1 – Joe Namath, New York Jets

He brought the fledgling American Football League into a position of notoriety, when he led the New York Jets to the greatest upset in Super Bowl history over the Baltimore Colts. The Green Bay Packers had cruised to victory in Super Bowls 1 and 2. If that trend had continued, the AFL may have never gained the traction needed to survive. Namath not only guaranteed victory on the night prior to kickoff, but delivered one to the biggest city on the grandest stage. This was a landmark game and a historic victory that impacted the future of two competing leagues, leading toward an eventual merger. Namath has to be on the list.


QB #2 – Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh Steelers

Before Bradshaw (and Noll, and the defense, and the wonderful receivers and talented running backs), the Steelers were a doormat on the schedule for the rest of the league, posting losing seasons for 7 straight years before Bradshaw arrived. They went 6 and 8 in Bradshaw’s first full year as the starter and made it into the NFL Playoffs the following season, 1971. In 1975, Bradshaw’s 5th season as Pittsburgh’s starting QB, the Steelers won the Super Bowl. Bradshaw went on to lead the Steelers to 4 Super Bowl titles over a 6 season stretch from 1975 to 1980, winning 2 Super Bowl MVP Awards. He also won the league MVP Award in 1978 and has been inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. Terry Bradshaw has to be on the list.


QB #3 – Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

It should not be overlooked, nor can it be understated what Drew Brees has done for the city of New Orleans. Breesus, along with coach Sean Payton, is the reason there’s still a football team in New Orleans. Following the 2005 devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the Saints’ 2006 season was a huge question mark. It could have been time to move. It could have been a good excuse for a “lost season.” In January 2006, the Saints franchise hired Payton as head coach; in March, they signed Drew Brees to play quarterback. In September, the Saints won their home opener against the Atlanta Falcons in the first game played in the Superdome since Katrina. Brees led the Saints into the NFL playoffs and won a home game against the Eagles, before losing to the Bears in the NFC Championship Game. In 2009, Brees led the Saints to a Super Bowl Championship and would have had the Saints in the 2019 Super Bowl against the Patriots had the officials not botched a pass interference call so badly that the league changed the rules for the 2019 season. He has delivered passing record after passing record. He has led the league in passing 7 times, has 5 seasons of 5,000 yards passing or more, is the all-time record holder for passing yards and touchdown passes. Drew Brees has to be on this list.

Happy Saturday…


Disclaimer: Saturday Morning Rambles are not designed to be literary prose. They are random thoughts that pour out onto my keyboard over a 30 to 45 minute stretch on any given Saturday morning. They are not refined, reworded, or examined for any continuity of thought or purpose.  I hope you can find a moment of enjoyment and appreciation in the rambling train wreck that they often turn out to be.


Comments are closed.