Peyton Manning – Indianapolis Colts/Denver Broncos:
Manning is a historic, iconic figure whose career was just one long success story. His list of current NFL records is too long to list. A few of the highlights are the fact that he owns the NFL career record for passing touchdowns with 539. He holds the records for most passing touchdowns in a season with 55 and most passing yards in a season with 5,477. Manning has won the most NFL MVP awards ever with five. He’s also tied for the record for most First-team All-Pro selections at seven. Finally, Manning is also tied for the most Pro Bowl selections of all-time with a lofty 14. All told Manning has completed 6,125 passes for 71,940 yards with 539 touchdowns (a record) and 251 interceptions.
He won two Super Bowls, one with the Colts and one with the Broncos in his final year. The one criticism that always followed Manning around was that he failed to win in the postseason as he did in the regular season. But that doesn’t really matter now. He’s one of the top three quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL and his list of records proves that.
Joe Montana – San Francisco 49ers/Kansas City Chiefs:
The aptly named “Joe Cool” was just that throughout his legendary NFL career. You could argue that Manning or Brees have far bigger stats and therefore deserve this spot on the list. But that’s just not true, as only one quarterback to be named later could win the Super Bowl as Montana could.
He’s a four-time Super Bowl champion who could deliver in the most clutch moments, evident by his three Super Bowl MVP awards in those four victories. He also made eight Pro Bowls and was selected to five total All-Pro teams throughout his career. Montana won two NFL MVP awards as well. He led the NFL in passer rating twice and passing touchdowns twice. No, 3,409 completions for 273 touchdowns and 139 interceptions don’t come even close to living up to the numbers of Manning and Brees.
But he also has as many Super Bowl MVP awards as they have Super Bowl victories combined. Yes, he was surrounded by a massive amount of talent in San Fran, but he won so many big games with his ice-cold play it just doesn’t matter. Unlike Aikman and Bradshaw, he was counted on to win playoff games with his arm alone. Montana delivered again and again on the biggest and brightest stages and is the second-best quarterbacks in NFL history due to that fact.
Tom Brady – New England Patriots:
Love him or hate him, you just can’t deny that this man is the best quarterback in NFL history. Brady burst into the NFL by winning the Super Bowl against the vaunted “Greatest Show on Turf” following the 2001 season and he hasn’t looked back ever since. Montana’s Super Bowl numbers are great, but Brady blows them out of the water. In fact, Brady and Montana are the only quarterbacks to have multiple NFL MVP awards and multiple Super Bowl MVP awards.
He’s won six Super Bowls, an all-time record, and has won the MVP award in four of those. He owns the Super Bowl records for most passing attempts, completions, yards, and touchdowns. Brady has a record-tying 14 Pro Bowls to his credit and has been selected to five total All-Pro teams. He’s won the NFL MVP three times and the NFL Offensive Player of the Year twice. Three times he’s led the NFL in passing yards, four times he’s led the league in touchdowns, and twice he’s led it in passer rating. He has 6,004 total completions for 70,514 yards, 517 touchdowns, and 171 interceptions. Finally, Brady owns the record for most regular-season wins in the NFL with 207. But those numbers don’t matter. The object of the NFL is to win the Super Bowl.
In that sense, the only number that matters for Brady is six, and that’s why he’s far and away the greatest quarterback in NFL history.