So we’re going to take the 64 best quarterbacks in NFL history and created a March Madness bracket to see what happens. Let the ensuing chaos begin.
March Madness will take center stage in the sports world for the next three weeks. College basketball may not be as visually appealing as it once was, but the 64-team, single-elimination tournament is the gold standard in all sports.
The NFL has a single-elimination postseason, but nothing as chaotic as what college basketball. Since the NFL only has 32 teams, lets do something else to get to 64. So why not take the 64 greatest quarterbacks in NFL history and force them into a win-or-go-home playoff bracket?
Like the NCAA Tournament, all 64 participants will be assigned to one of four regions. However, these regions will honor some of the lesser quarterbacks in NFL history. This is how it will work. ll things equal, which quarterback will lead his team to victory? Let’s begin.
Round of 64
Ryan Leaf Region
No. 1 Joe Montana will play No. 16 Norm Snead in the first round. Snead may have been a good quarterback in his days with the Eagles, but he’s going up against the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament in Montana. It could get ugly.
This first round matchup features two two-time Super Bowl Champions in No. 2 Peyton Manning and No. 15 Bob Griese. Manning often carried the Indianapolis Colts, while Griese benefited from great Don Shula Dolphins teams, including the 1972 perfect season.
Roger Staubach established what it means to play quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. Matt Hasselbeck led the Seattle Seahawks to their first Super Bowl berth in his prime. A former Heisman Trophy winner versus Brett Favre’s former fourth-stringer clash in this first-round matchup.
The coolest quarterback of all-time in Joe Namath collides with one of the early stars in the AFL in Daryle Lamonica. These two guys loved to go vertical in what was a run-first game during their heyday.
Y.A. Tittle was one of the best quarterbacks before the Super Bowl era as a Hall of Fame signal caller for the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants. Bernie Kosar was the last franchise quarterback the Cleveland Browns ever had. He was great for his hometown team in the 1980s.
This one will be fun. The champion of gunslingers Terry Bradshaw versus the a big and powerful dual-threat quarterback in Cam Newton. Bradshaw won four Super Bowls with the Steelers. Newton has been to one thus far in his NFL career. Who knows what kind of weird stuff we’d see in this matchup.
Here is a matchup of the two greatest quarterbacks in their respective franchise’s history. The Bears still haven’t appropriately replace Sid Luckman. Joe Flacco plays his best when the lights are the brightest for the Baltimore Ravens.
Sonny Jurgensen could really sling it for the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins. Matt Ryan is the reigning NFL MVP and the greatest passer in Atlanta Falcons franchise history. This one would go down to the wire.
JaMarcus Russell Region
The greatest quarterback in New England Patriots history in Tom Brady versus arguably the best quarterback for the New York Jets since Joe Namath led them to a Super Bowl in Vinny Testaverde. Both can throw for a ton of yards. While they had different levels of NFL success, longevity may have been their greatest strength.
Dan Marino was an innovator in the passing game for years with the Miami Dolphins. Roman Gabriel made the Los Angeles Rams very formidable in the NFL for years in the 1960s. These are two of the very best to never win a Super Bowl.
If you’re a fan of pure arm talent, it’s hard to not get up for this matchup between Brett Favre and Carson Palmer. Favre made a career as a powerful, jazz beat quarterback. Palmer loves to go vertical, now with his third team in the Arizona Cardinals.
A little bit of a throwback here. We’ve got the pioneer of the scrambling quarterback in the Pro Football Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton versus one of the first pioneers of the vertical passing game in John Hadl. Legs versus cannon. Go!
Drew Brees brought stability to an organization in need of it when he arrived with the New Orleans Saints in 2006. John Brodie was a cornerstone under center for the San Francisco 49ers for well over a decade. Two outstanding on-field leaders in this one.
If you want to see elite quarterbacking outside of the pocket, look no further than this first-round matchup between Ben Roethlisberger and Randall Cunningham. Roethlisberger has been a stable force in Pittsburgh for years, while Cunningham won with several teams, but most notably the Eagles.
The wheels will turn in this one in a battle of two late all-timers in terms of scrambling. Ken Stabler starred for the Raiders and later the Oilers. Steve McNair was incredible for the Oilers/Titans in the AFC for well over a decade.
Philip Rivers and Boomer Esiason were two great, often overlooked quarterbacks of their respective generations. Their teams didn’t do enough winning, but are both borderline Pro Football Hall of Famers at the end of the day. Hopefully they both eventually get into Canton.