Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Title-less Hall of Fame NFL Quarterbacks

     First off, I'll have writing news very soon.  Check back in two days (Friday, Dec. 16th) for more info on a newly published anthology which will feature one of my stories.
     Back on February 10, 2016 I devoted a post to discussing which quarterbacks won NFL/AFL/AAFC titles, and then who won the most, all time.  So I got to thinking about otherwise great quarterbacks who never won a title.  So I looked up all the quarterbacks who are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and checked over their careers.
     Oh, and bear in mind the following info about pro football playoffs and title winners.  From 1920-32 the NFL champion was determined by the best won-loss record (and they didn't count ties as anything, which was eventually changed).  (In 1932 the top two teams did play a final game for the title, but this wasn't an official NFL Championship Game--it's complicated.)  From 1933 to 1965 the NFL (title) Championship Game was played between the two conference champions.  The All American Football Conference (AAFC) played from 1946-49.  Their two conference champs also met in a final title game to determine their top team.  Three of these AAFC teams were absorbed in the NFL starting in the 1950 season.  Then, the American Football League (the AFL) played from 1960-69.  From 1960 to 1965 their top two teams played in an AFL title game.  Then, from 1966-69, the top AFL team played the top NFL team to determine the ultimate champ, in a game later called the Super Bowl.  Then in 1970 the AFL was absorbed into the NFL, and became the American Football Conference (AFC) along with 3 former NFL teams.  The rest of the league is the National Football Conference, or NFC.  The NFC champ plays the AFC champ in the Super Bowl at the end of each season for the ultimate NFL title.  The number of playoff teams has steadily increased, too, up to 8 total in 1970, and up to the current 12 (6 per conference), so modern quarterbacks have more opportunities to make the playoffs than their older kin.
     Anyway, the following Hall of Fame quarterbacks won no titles.

      1) Dan Fouts, San Diego Chargers, 1973-87.  Highlights of his career include 43,040 passing yards, 254 touchdown passes, 6 Pro Bowls, and being the MVP in 1982.  Dan had a playoff (starting) record of 3-4.  He did make two AFC Championship Games, for the 1980 and 1981 seasons, but lost both.

     2) Benny Friedman, who played for various teams, including the Cleveland Bulldogs, Detroit Wolverines, New York Giants, and Brooklyn Dodgers from 1927-34 (yes, these were all official NFL teams in the early days).  Credited with being the NFL's first standout passer.  He led the NFL in touchdown passes in his first 4 years, and threw a then record 20 touchdown passes in 1929.  He won no titles. He was not on the team with the best record through 1932, and then not on a team that even played in the Championship Game his final two seasons.

    3) Jim Kelly, Buffalo Bills, 1986-96 (he also played for a few seasons in the USFL prior to his NFL career).  Finished with 5 Pro Bowl appearances, 35,467 passing yards, and 237 touchdown passes.  Had a 9-8 playoff record, including four straight, frustrating Super Bowl losses from 1990-93 (Super Bowls 25-28).

   4) Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins, 1983-99.  Played in 9 Pro Bowls, and set the then records of 61,361 passing yards and 420 touchdown passes.  Accumulated a 8-10 playoff record, including a loss in Super Bowl 19 against the 49ers.

  5) Warren Moon, Houston Oilers, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, and Kansas City Chiefs, 1984-2000.  He also played for several years in the Canadian Football League before his NFL career began.  Highlights include 49,325 passing yards, 291 touchdown passes, and 9 Pro Bowls.  In the playoffs, though, he went 3-7, and never reached either a Super Bowl or conference championship game.

  6) Clarence "Ace" Parker, Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Yanks (yes, that was a real team--weird!) with the NFL, and with the New York Yankees in the AAFC, 1937-41, 1945-46.  Was named all NFL twice, and was the league MVP in 1940.  Never made an NFL Championship Game appearance, and appeared in relief in a loss in the 1946 AAFC title game.

  7) Fran Tarkenton, Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants, 1961-78.  When he retired he held the NFL records for most passing yards (47,003) and touchdown passes (342), since broken.  Also renowned as one of the earliest effective rushers, or "scrambling" quarterbacks.  His career playoff record was 6-5, including appearances in Super Bowls 8,9, and 11, all losses, obviously.

 8) Y.A. Tittle, Baltimore Colts (AAFC and NFL), San Francisco 49ers, and New York Giants, 1948-64.  Threw for 33,070 passing yards and 242 touchdown passes.  Named to 7 Pro Bowls, and was League MVP twice.  However, in the playoffs he went 0-5 (0-4 as a starter), losing one AAFC Championship Game and 3 straight NFL Championship Games (1961-63).

     The following quarterbacks sort of qualify for this list, for reasons explained below.

  9) George Blanda, Chicago Bears, Baltimore Colts, Houston Oilers, and Oakland Raiders, 1949-58, 1960-75.  Played in a record 26 seasons, until he was 48!  Also played as a kicker, and held the total points record (2002) for decades.  Anyway, he won two AFL titles with the Oilers, in 1960 and 1961.  (Amazingly he threw 5 interceptions in winning the 1961 game!)  Also played for the Raiders in their loss to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl 2, as a kicker, not as a quarterback.

  10) Paddy Driscoll, Hammond Pros, Decatur Staleys, Chicago Cardinals, and Chicago Bears, 1919-29.  As you can see from the team names, and the years, he played in the NFL's earliest days.  As I discuss in greater detail in the Feb. 10, 2016 post, statistics for the NFL in the 1920's are very limited.  So while Driscoll is listed as a quarterback, it's difficult to determine if he was the "real" quarterback throughout much of his career.  For example, in the Cardinals 1925 season, for which they were the NFL champs, Red Dunn is credited with throwing all the Cardinals touchdown passes.  So while Driscoll certainly was on a title-wining team, he might not have been the true quarterback during that season.

 11) Sonny Jurgensen, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins, 1957-74.  Threw for 32,224 passing yards, 255 touchdown passes, and had an enormous for the time lifetime passer rating of 82.63.  No playoff starts, though, and of the four games he played in he only threw a pass in one.  However, he did play in the 1960 NFL Championship Game with the victorious Eagles, so he won a title game, just not as a starter.

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