saw a quote on Facebook a few months ago. Went something like
this (I’m paraphrasing): “Great quarterbacks don’t lose two Super
was a shot against Brady.
I have several problems with that quote. But the reality is, simple
and easy, it’s a stupid thought. Without much research, my initial
grasps on the issue quickly came to a few conclusions…
– I can think of several average quarterbacks that have won a
Super Bowl. I can think of more than several that have lost a
Super Bowl. But I don’t know many average quarterbacks that have
led teams to more than one Super Bowl appearance.
– Granted, losing two titles does damage any person that wants
to name Brady the greatest quarterback ever. Multiple titles and
no championship defeats serves Joe Montana well in the debate.
But getting to five Super Bowls and winning three kind of makes
a career pretty special, even with two losses.
more I thought about the idea, the more I was reminded a story…
friend of mine was participating in a class-like discussion about
baseball. As I recall, it was sort of a history class. And one
day, the instructor posed a challenge to the class: “Define great.”
friend quickly responded: “Good in New York.”
come back to this. For now, let’s get some information out there
that will be valuable to our exploration. It’s a chart of the
past fifteen Super Bowls, featuring both teams and the starting
|New York (Giants)
|New York (Giants)
||New York (Giants)
here are two things that stand out to me on that chart.
it’s been nine title games since the last “not great” quarterback
won. That would be Brad Johnson with Tampa Bay. Before that it
would be Trent Dilfer with Baltimore.
I deliberately went back fifteen years instead of ten so we could
get Kurt Warner onto our chart as a winner… because he’s twice
a loser, and we are talking about a “great quarterbacks not losing”
theme as the basis of the column. (Plus he’s also so wonderfully
intertwined in the development of the Giants and their two championships
when you think about it.) The funny thing that happened as a result
was adding Trent Dilfer… and John Elway. See, Dilfer drops the
90% great margin down to 85%. But, once you see Elway’s name there,
you begin to realize even more strongly that the past decade…
two decades… three decades aren’t exactly rigged results in favor
of great winners. The five winning quarterbacks before Elway include
Brett Favre, Troy Aikman and Steve Young. Losing quarterbacks
in the past twenty-five years bring in those four appearances
from Buffalo and Jim Kelly. Plus… before winning his championships,
I think we all recall the reputation Elway had.
the longer we go back the more likely we are to get a Mark Rypien
as a winner… yet that also leads to the decade dominated by Joe
Montana. In Super Bowls twenty-four and earlier we have Montana
with four rings, Bradshaw with four, Starr with two and Staubach
with two… which is four quarterbacks and twelve titles without
getting to a full list of who started and was playing for the
losing squads. (By the way… you might want to recall Staubach
lost titles as well.)
I feel comfortable saying that more often than not, especially
when discussing quarterbacks that have more than one championship
-- if you had to bet you should place your money on great quarterbacks
answer our original quote though… does it? No… we’ve been told
that “Great quarterbacks don’t lose two Super Bowls.” All I’ve
done is shown that most great quarterbacks get to… and win… multiple
Super Bowls. So…
check out the list of losing quarterbacks in the past fifteen
games. I would say several of the losing quarterbacks qualify
for any list of greats. In the past five years Peyton Manning,
Ben Roethlisberger and Kurt Warner have each lost once, and Brady
has lost twice. (And, as I sort of noted, Warner also has a second
loss outside the recent five-year stretch.)
isn’t great, but he won an MVP award. Toss in Favre with Manning,
Roethlisberger, Warner and Brady, and we arrive with a count that
shows just shy of half the losers in the past fifteen years are:
(1) also Super Bowl winners, and, (2) worthy of consideration
we consider Jake Delhomme, Donovan McNabb, Chris Chandler and
so on great? Nope… and they also all have in common just a single
Super Bowl appearance. They never got a chance to play multiple
times in the rarified championship air.
we have arrived at is pretty interesting…
shows us that many quarterbacks have made it to just a single
Super Bowl. A few of those have victories, and the rest have losses.
Most of the starting quarterbacks that have brought a team (or,
Warner considered, we need to say teams) to more than one Super
Bowl though: (1) have at least one victory, (2) are generally
accepted as one of the greatest in history.
get a franchise to five Super Bowls with multiple titles… and
yeah, I think we can say that a great quarterback has lost two
(or more Super Bowls).
you want to argue that Jim Kelly isn’t great… I’m listening. Four
Super Bowls and no titles. It’s a Dan Marino type of argument
that great doesn’t have to come with rings. Got it.
could argue that Kurt Warner isn’t great… and once again, I’m
listening. Three title games though, with two organizations and
some MVP hardware says he was pretty darn good.
Staubach though… he lost twice to Pittsburgh... and I would consider
him one of the greatest. (Not top five of all-time greatest if
you make the list today… but still one of the greatest.)
end result is easy to see though… lousy quarterbacks don’t make
multiple Super Bowl visits. And when you begin talking about three…
four… five opportunities… we are in some rarified air.
Brady’s legacy does in fact include a missed opportunity at perfection.
He has lost his two latest chances at a fourth title. But losing
two does not mean he isn’t great. In fact… there’s a good chance
it means exactly the opposite. It’s pretty great that he quarterbacked
a team to two losses.