It’s a rich tradition in football: the quarterback legacies of the Green Bay Packers. The least populated city to host a pro sports team has overachieved, with four Super Bowls and 13 total championships, due in large part to the skills of sublime quarterbacks. Only, if we focus on the facts since the Lombardi teams that coincided with the first Super Bowl, the hype is misleading. Fans have been awed by a supremely gifted trio, but they tend to overlook the other 22 guys–that lowly bunch who toiled in the shadows cast by legends.
There are no surprises when guessing who the top three will be, but how that triumvirate is ranked offers some suspense. And prior to the finale, it’s fun to recall the names of what was basically a scrap heap from 1972-1991. Twenty years of futility are a fine reminder to haters that “Title Town” was indeed a suspicious term for a while and to Packer Backers to appreciate how truly rare their last two signal-callers have been. At the time of this writing, the Green and Gold might be missing the playoffs, which hasn’t happened since 2008. But for God’s sake, anyone sobbing with a Cheesehead on should get a lecture from a Browns fan. Three QBs have caused expectations to escalate at the expense of the rest. Here is a recounting of Packers greatness, as well as the absence of that greatness.
25. Carlos Brown
Currently known as Alan Autry, our first entry has a glamorous tale to tell. His name changed (only to later change back) due his parents’ split when he was a year old and though his NFL career was woeful, Brown/ Autry went on to find his niche as an actor and then a politician. From television, you might remember him as Captain Bubba Skinner on the cop drama In the Heat of the Night (1988-1995). After the Heat dissipated, he was elected mayor of Fresno, California and served from 2001-2009. Long before those feats, however, he flopped as a quarterback for the Packers.
As Carlos Brown, his stint in Green Bay lasted just two seasons, from 1975-76. As an NFL sophomore, his squad was defeated in all three of his career starts. Future Captain Bubba put up a gruesome rating of 25.3 during America’s bicentennial, as well as a career rating of 35.0. He completed 35.1% of his passes when granted an opportunity for a last place, 5-9 Packers team that was about to discover that Bart Starr as Head Coach was not going to revive glory from the past. With additional power as General Manager, Starr released Brown, proving he made at least one wise front-office move. Brown became Autry and pursued stardom, which came to fruition when he guest-starred on both The Dukes of Hazard and The A-Team in the ’80s.
24. Don Milan
From a man who was on the same show as Mr. T, we transition to someone less notable: Don Milan, who played a year in the league and only gets the nod over Brown because I suppose a starting record of 0-1 is better than 0-3. Furthering his obscurity, Milan’s alma mater was Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. Ever hear of such a college? If so, you’re either enrolled or a professor there and if not, you should browse the net for Jeopardy! tryout info as soon as we’re done here.
Milan’s sole start was not a sentimental favorite for the ages. He completed less than half of his passes for a meager 127 yards as the Pack fell to the Bears–who were almost as terrible as they were in 1975. Milan somehow accounted for two touchdowns, but one of those was on a pick six that gave Chicago a three-score lead in the third quarter. The aforementioned Carlos Brown spelled him in relief and chucked a TD, but it was too late. The trio of Milan, Brown, and the rapidly declining John Hadl all attempted passes in this game, with a chagrined Bart Starr watching from the sideline. It was a painful, portentous defeat at Lambeau Field, where the home team was losing a lot.
23. Jim Del Gaizo
The wake of Bart Starr caused several QBs to flounder and Jim Del Gaizo was among them. As a rookie, Del Gaizo got a Super Bowl with minimal effort on the undefeated 1972 Dolphins team. (he never started a game in Miami and only threw nine passes.) In the second year of his three-year career, he won one of his three starts for Green Bay, giving him the distinction of the first QB on this list to actually prevail as a starter. Aside from that, the J.D.G. story is pretty grim.
When time ran out for Del Gaizo in the NFL, his rating was almost worse than that of Carlos Brown: 37.3. It’s debatable if Aaron Rodgers could outdo that with his eyes shut. Del Gaizo finished his career as a Giant in 1973, losing all three of his starts and after three campaigns in three zip codes, that was the end. He was just another unworthy replacement of Bart Starr. Kids at Lambeau were starting to ask their parents, “When will the Packers be good again?” And as the parents gazed forlornly at the likes of Del Gaizo under center, their replies came in hollow tones: “I don’t know, child… I just don’t know.”
22. Blair Kiel
Leaping forward in time from the 70s to 1990, the Packers were still searching for answers. Fleetingly, Green Bay thought they’d found their franchise quarterback in Don Majkowski, but The Majik Man’s ’89 campaign–which culminated in him representing the Pack in Hawaii–turned out to be a fluke. Injuries cut Majkowski’s season in half and even when he was on the field, he showed troubling signs of regression. In his place, Blair Kiel started a game. The third-stringer did little to impress.
At Detroit late in the season, his 20 completions on 36 attempts were respectable, but he threw a costly pick that went unredeemed by virtue of not notching a TD pass. 1991 told an eerily similar story for Green Bay QBs. Majkowski was sidelined for half the season (probably thinking maybe the team had squandered its first-round pick on Tony Mandarich to protect his blindside) and Kiel lost his only start. To his credit, Kiel’s career TD/ INT was 8:7 and his passer rating of 75.4 outranks many QBs on this countdown, but the bottom line, as Stone Cold used to say, is that in three tries, he never won a game as an NFL starter.
21. Anthony Dilweg
The second Majkowski backup to make the countdown, Anthony Dilweg’s career stats are almost identical to those of Blair Kiel. When it came to TD/INT ratio, they were doppelgangers: 8:7. Kiel holds bragging rights in regard to rating by a margin of 75.4 to 72.3, and we can only assume Dilweg is tired of hearing about it. Kiel also has a slight edge in passing yards with 1,296 to Dilweg’s 1,274, which has got to ruffle Dilweg’s feathers. But if the two remain golfing buddies (and why wouldn’t they?), this is Dilweg’s go-to comeback: He won two games out of seven. That’s not great, good, or even decent… but it’s better than Kiel.
Anthony Hume Dilweg was drafted by the Pack in 1989 and retired in 1990, meaning he played his entire career in Title Town, unlike Brett Favre (Ooh, there’s a Dilweg burn for ya, Brett!). Along with Kiel, the man with the middle name “Hume” must have been instrumental in convincing the franchise they needed all the help they could get at QB, as the Packers pulled off one of the most brilliant trades in history to fleece Favre from the Falcons in 1992. Here’s additional perspective on the post-Starr/ pre-Favre Packers: In 20 seasons, the QBs totaled more TDs than INTs twice… The franchise was stuck deep in a hole of turnovers.
20. Jerry Tagge
Few players were as vital to Green Bay’s triumph in the first two Super Bowls as Bart Starr. And few players personified the team’s plummet from the top like Jerry Tagge. The man who sneaked in the game-clinching touchdown in the Ice Bowl retired after the 1971 season. In the seasons between Starr’s retirement and the arrival of Favre, Packers QBs threw 318 TDs and 437 INTs. Tagge only lasted from 1972-74. In that span, he threw three scores and 17 picks. Tagge set the tone. The golden age was over.
With Dan “Not Vince Lombardi” Devine as Head Coach, Green Bay botched the 11th pick in the draft by selecting Tagge, who followed a sterling run at the University of Nebraska with a dismal stint in the Badger State. Somehow Tagge’s performance got even worse from his second season to his third. In the former, his touchdown/interception ratio was 2:7 and his rating was an ugly 53.2. In the latter, that ratio exacerbated to 1:10, with his rating falling to a hideous 36.0. The beloved Starr returned in 1975, as Head Coach. Tagge was not on the roster. He quarterbacked the San Antonio Wings of the World Football League, then fled far north to collect some paychecks from the BC Lions in Canada before calling it quits before he turned 30.
19. Randy Johnson
A different Randy Johnson–not to be confused with the flame-throwing, lanky scarecrow who destroyed a bird with a fastball and got voted into Cooperstown, this Randy Johnson never made it into the Hall of Fame of his chosen sport. His career began as the inaugural starting QB of the Atlanta Falcons, who struggled to a 3-8 mark in their debut. His records only got worse; three was the most wins in a season Johnson was to earn as a starter. In his final year, 1976, Packers’ management shrugged and said, “Maybe he’ll surprise us.”
And surprisingly, Johnson went undefeated as a starter for the Pack: 1-0. Sure, Green Bay got nowhere near the playoffs and the revival was still a decade-and-a-half away. But Johnson’s final game was a happy anomaly: His team won. They showed a 4-10 team not to mess with a 5-9 team. Strengthening the storybook ending, to close the regular season, the Packers beat the Falcons, the team that had drafted Johnson a decade prior. Granted, Johnson’s rating settled at 55.1, he lame-ducked 51 TDs to 90 picks, his career record was 10-38-1–and all of those numbers are awful… But dammit, Randy Johnson still went out a winner.
18. Alan Risher
Like Steve Young and Reggie White, only not as famous, Alan Risher got his pro start in the USFL, which lasted as competition for the NFL from 1982-86. Before the USFL folded, the field general of the Arizona Wranglers made the leap to the NFL the same year that Marty McFly went back in time. Risher never threw a pass for the dismal Buccaneers in 1985, took a year off–to just chill, presumably–and then resurfaced on the Packers. Two puzzling things happened thereafter: Risher actually played pretty well in three games and yet he never took the field again after 1987. There’s a reason.
The New Orleans native and LSU grad went on to post a passer rating of 80.0 in the NFL. Bart Starr’s was only a half-point higher. Risher passed for 564 yards, 3 TDs, and 3 INTs as his team finished 2-1 with him leading the offense. In fact, two of the five wins the 1987 Pack enjoyed came when Risher started and he was statistically superior to both Randy Wright and Don Majkowski. There’s a catch, though and it’s a doozy: The 1987 season was marred by an ugly strike and Risher was essentially a non-union scab, one who probably had to dodge D batteries that Wright and Majkowski whipped at him as they protested his arrival to work at Lambeau. Risher’s rating was bloated by the scabby defenses he faced. He spelled 80.0* with an asterisk. Work stoppages in sports ruin everything.
17. Jack Concannon
As a journeyman who knew how to introduce opposing corners to the pigskin, Jack Concannon was driven to prove that he too could pale in comparison to Bart Starr–and he did so in his penultimate season, 1974. After stints with the Eagles and Bears, Concannon was, like the Packers franchise at the time, going nowhere. Granted, he did once lead the Bears to a winning record, but aside from that single anomaly, he was either a fledgling starter or a forgettable backup.
In green and gold, he lost both of his starts and supplied a cheap boost of confidence to the likes of has-been John Hadl and never-was Jerry Tagge. Combined, that trio tossed 5 TDs and a ghastly 21 picks. Concannon’s contemporaries somehow managed three victories apiece, however. In his career, number 17 on our list subjected football fans to a TD/ INT ratio of 36:63. After his retirement, in 1981, Concannon was arrested for delivering a kilo of cocaine. An undercover agent sacked him. Even his attempts to traffic drugs got intercepted.
16. Scott Tolzien
The first of two active players on the countdown, and the other one’s name rhymes with Baron Dodgers, Tolzien has yet to lead his team to victory as a starter, but he still has time to change that. Plus he can cross “starting a game that ended in a tie” off his bucket list; he’s presently 0-2-1. As a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, he was a sentimental favorite for Packer Backers in 2013, when “Baron Dodgers” missed nearly half the season with a fractured clavicle. In a start against the Giants, Tolzien’s stat line looked good until the last two things: He completed 24 of 34 throws for 339 yards… and no touchdowns to 3 INTs.
With the Badger alum struggling and their MVP quarterback still on the mend, the Packers re-signed Matt Flynn for damage control. Tolzien got a change of scenery, as well as a pretty lucrative contract, all things considered, in March of 2016, when he signed up to become the second-stringer behind the Colts’ franchise QB Andrew Luck. After Luck suffered a concussion, Tolzien was thrust into duty against the Steelers. Again, results were mixed; he continued to show a maddening trend of completing a high percentage of passes, yet still turning the ball over too often. He got picked off twice. The Colts lost. But Tolzien is not a lost cause.
15. Don Horn
The 1969 season betrayed signs of decline for a franchise that had won six championships under Vince Lombardi. Perhaps the most glaring omen that fledgling years were to come was found in the form of Don Horn, who supplanted the aging and wounded Bart Starr as starting quarterback. In just five starts, Horn led the team in passing with 1,505 yards through the air and he threw a touchdown for every pick, 11:11. Starr was still the more efficient quarterback with an 89.9 rating, but with protection problems came more hits, injuries, and time spent frowning on the sideline.
Under Lombardi’s successor Phil Bengston, the team managed an 8-6 finish and missed the playoffs. As for Don Horn, he only started one game in 1970 and this is sure to blow your mind: He still threw 10 interceptions, oftentimes in relief, and he was responsible for only a pair of passing touchdowns. And get this: In Denver the next season, Horn chucked three TDs to 14 interceptions, which is kind of a red flag for a starting quarterback in the NFL. His career TD/Int ratio reads like that of a typical Bart Starr successor. 20:36.
14. David Whitehurst
Time-traveling back to the days of Disco and Punk, the Pack were lackluster and led by a QB born in Baumhaulder, West Germany (The Berlin Wall was not to fall until the Majkowski era, history buffs). In a full, 16-game season in 1978, Whitehurst followed the guidelines laid by his fellow followers of Starr: He threw more interceptions than touchdowns. His ratio was 10:17, followed by an if-nothing-else-consistent 10:18 the following year. 1978 also saw Whitehurst post a 59.9 rating. If ratings were graded, that would be a strong F+.
He endured on the Packers and in the league until 1983 after being demoted to backup duties by Coach Bart Starr, who got an up-close and clear understanding of the sorry state of quarterbacks that had failed to fill his cleats. Starr is remembered as a great quarterback and a sub-par coach due in large part to his own legacy dwarfing the skills of the quarterbacks that he coached. As for Whitehurst, the turnover hole he dug was 23 deep, 28:51. It was almost as if the man thought he could reach China by being so careless with the football.
13. Scott Hunter
After being picked in the sixth round of the 1971 Draft, Hunter started 10 games as a rookie. It had become sadly evident that Starr was overdue to shut it down. Replacing a legend is tough and nobody understood that better than Hunter. Mustering just 1,210 passing yards, Hunter seemed to be targeting the wrong-colored jerseys constantly. In his debut year, he connected on seven TDs while heaving 17 picks. His rating inspired trepidation in the Badger State: 46.1. As Starr’s successor, he started a dubious trend.
Incredibly, Hunter led the team to a 10-4 finish the next year, good enough to win the NFC Central. His individual stats remained dreadful as he completed 43.2% of his passes, averaging fewer than 100 yards per start, with a TD/Int rate of 6:9. A productive running game and a strong defense did wonders to offset his weaknesses, but Hunter would never again lead his squad to a winning season. He swiftly played his way out of Title Town before bouncing around as a backup journeyman and retiring in 1979 with a career passer rating of 55.0.
12. Randy Wright
The forgettable years of the franchise stretched into the decade of Rubik’s Cubes and John Hughes movies. Drafted in 1984, the same year Van Halen dropped a killer album, Wright endured on the Packers and in the NFL until 1988, when that same band was still pretty popular, only they had a cheesier lead singer. Being born in St. Charles, Illinois, and graduating from the University of Wisconsin gave Wright his roots, but comfort in the Midwest did almost nothing to enhance Wright’s play as a starting quarterback at Lambeau Field.
He started the entirety of the 1986 season, a 4-12 debacle in which the Bears and their fans had all the bragging rights and the Pack got outscored by a margin of 254-418 (On the bright side, they were still better than the Buccaneers). Wright in the spotlight completed 53.5% of his attempts for 3,247 yards, with 17 TDs and 23 INTs, leading to a rating of 66.2… But he did fend off Vince Ferragamo and Chuck Fusina for the starting job, so he had that going for him. Wright lofted 26 more picks than scores in his career, but it’s all relative on this list, which is awfully sketchy until the top three. Somehow Randy Wright is in the middle of the pack for the Pack’s QBs.
11. Seneca Wallace
This uniquely named scrambling QB got the bulk of his playing time with the pre-Russell Wilson Seahawks. Wallace signed with Green Bay in 2013 and when Rodgers fractured his clavicle, management must have gawked at Wallace and said, “Uh-oh! We really need this guy?” In front of a despairing crowd at Lambeau, Wallace replaced Rodgers in the first quarter and the dispirited Packers went on to lose to the Bears. In his only start for the Packers the following week, another defeat was incurred. Wallace suffered a season-ending groin injury in the loss. His career was effectively over.
His NFL career wasn’t always bleak, however. Ranking Wallace is challenging since, although his stats were surprisingly good, his record was cringe-inducing. His numbers don’t portray him as lackluster, except for those all-important wins and losses. In 10 seasons, he totaled 31 TD connections and just 19 picks. His passer rating provokes plenty of double-takes: 80.8! Yet in 22 starts, Wallace-led teams were a dismal 6-16. He did have a bit of a fumbling problem, but still, maybe the guy deserved better luck in the win column, as a member of the Seahawks and Browns, anyway. On the Packers, at the end of his career, he didn’t stand a chance of capably filling in for Aaron Rodgers.
10. Zeke Bratkowski
Edmund Raymond “Call me Zeke” Bratkowski was more of a risk-taker than starter Bart Star and sometimes that willingness to gamble paid off, but more often than not, it didn’t. Especially not in the Packers’ smashmouth-style offense, which emphasized the running game, ball control, and sustaining drives. Coined a “super sub,” Zeke showed a knack for big plays, connecting on completions of 80 and 86 yards during his time in Green Bay. But there was never really a quarterback controversy. Particularly in Lombardi’s offense, the less a QB turned the ball over, the more time he had to prove himself a leader on the field.
And Zeke was prone to turnovers. Super sub or not, he chucked 65 TDs to 122 INTs in 15 seasons. All those mistakes contributed to his 18-30-1 record as a starter (although many of those losses occurred when he played for the Bears and the Rams earlier in his career). He amassed over 10,000 passing yards, 10,345, to be exact, but his rating reveals quantity over quality: 54.3. His shining moment came in the Western Conference playoff game vs. Baltimore in 1965, when he stepped up to replace an injured Starr and led the Pack to a 13-10 win in overtime. Starr returned the next week and Green Bay prevailed in the final championship game before the Super Bowl era. Thank Zeke for the assist.
9. Jim Zorn
Just a warning: This entry contains Zornographic material. Long before he transitioned into coaching, southpaw James Arthur Zorn cut his teeth in the NFL as the man under center for the newly founded Seahawks in 1976. He persevered through a sickening 2-12 rookie year and then asserted himself as the franchise quarterback for the next several years. Due in part to his go-to target, Hall of Famer Steve Largent, Seattle gained credibility, finishing 9-7 in both 1978 and 1979.
Zorno lost his job to Dave Krieg in 1983, though, which effectively made him a backup for the rest of his career. After signing with the Packers in 1985, he was forced into action when Lynn Dickey went down. His stats weren’t pretty, a 45.5 completion percentage, 4 passing TDs, 6 picks, and a rating of 57.4, but the team won three of his five starts. His career totals are also a bit wobbly, 111 aerial scores, 141 balls picked off, and a 67.3 rating, but evidently his football IQ and leadership skills led to a stint as Head Coach of the Redskins (2008-2009). His last job in the NFL was as QB coach of the Chiefs (2011-2012). This Zornography was brought to you by TheSportster.
8. Matt Flynn
From one record-breaking performance as a Packer, Flynn was granted a deal so huge he’ll probably never have to work again; slinging passes, holding a clipboard, or otherwise. The game occurred on New Year’s Day of 2012, in week 17, when the one-loss Packers already had home-field advantage wrapped up. With nothing more to gain, they opted to bench their superstar quarterback. Flynn seized the opportunity, shredding the Lions’ secondary for 480 yards, shattering the former record, as well as launching six touchdowns passes in a shootout victory.
Seattle took notice and Flynn cashed in with a three-year contract worth $19.5 million. In no time, Flynn was beat out by rookie phenom Russell Wilson. As a Seahawk, Flynn attempted nine passes, which amounted to more than a million bucks per throw in the guaranteed money offered by his gaudy deal. Seattle cut their losses in 2013 and traded Flynn to Oakland, where he lost another position battle to a rookie, Terrelle Pryor (currently a receiver). The Raiders let him go mid-season. Flynn’s career came full-circle when Green Bay brought him back in the tumultuous year of the Rodgers collarbone injury. Somewhere between a stellar passer rating of 85.9 and an inability win a starting job, you’ll find the baffling career of Matt Flynn.
7. Mike Tomczak
The man with four first names, Michael John Tomczak experienced both sides of the bitter Bears/ Packers rivalry. A year after doing The Super Bowl Shuffle, Tomczak replaced Jim McMahon when Charles Martin of the Packers hit a body slam that was a cheap shot and a personal foul for the ages. McMahon’s wounded shoulder was re-injured after Martin drove him into the cold, hard turf of Soldier Field. Tomzcak battled the newly acquired Doug Flutie for the starting job and Chicago’s hopes for a repeat were dashed.
Tomczak went north to Green Bay in 1991 to back up Don Majkowski and found himself replacing the injured Majik Man. With Sterling Sharpe in his arsenal (and pretty much no one else), Tomczak managed 1,490 passing yards in seven starts–becoming the de facto passing leader. Shockingly, he tossed more touchdowns than picks (11:9). That season his rating was 72.6 and compared to most of his predecessors, that was a welcome C- of a score in Title Town. Less shockingly, his career TD/ INT ratio of 88: 106 maintains the trend of these guys turning the ball over more often than they put points on the board.
6. Don Majkowski
Our list takes a step closer to greatness with the QB that preceded a Hall of Famer that was vital to rejuvenating Title Town. In the era of Zubaz pants and Trapper Keepers, the Majik Man proved that so-so players can at least pose as magicians for rad posters (Google it). Majkowski was actually better than so-so in 1989, his lone Pro Bowl year, in which he amassed 4,318 yards through the air as well as 27 TDs (plus a robust 20 picks). Green Bay still missed the playoffs in tough-luck fashion with a record of 10-6.
A pivotal moment in history happened on September 20th, 1992, when Majkowski suffered an ankle injury against the Bengals and got replaced by a guy who would never let him have his job back. A Cinderella story began at the exact moment the magic started to vanish. Instead of the Pro Bowl season, Packers fans recall the cheesy blond mullet and the mediocrity of his final years with the team, when he missed as many games as he started, heaved too many picks without making enough plays, and got pulverized by pass rushers in part because the Pack had drafted Tony Mandarich, a mammoth bust on ‘roids, to anchor their offensive line. The Majik Man later became a backup for the Colts and the Lions. With a career rating of 72.9 and a TD/ INT of 66:67, he was much better than some of his fellow Green Bay QBs. But he was also much worse than others… Like the one who took his job.
5. John Hadl
John Hadl had had a very good run with the Chargers and then the Rams when the Packers, mired in their post-Starr doldrums, gave up a mother load of draft picks to acquire him from L.A. in 1974. The trade was devastating for the Green and Gold. They surrendered two first-rounders, two second-rounders, and a third-rounder for a 34-year-old quarterback on the verge of his precipitous decline. His last full season as a Ram, Hadl earned All-Pro honors, slinging 22 TDs and just 11 INTs, and leading his squad to a 12-2 record. The next year, in 1974, he lost his job mid-season and yet somehow the Pack reasoned, “No red flags there. Let’s mortgage the future on him!”
With the trade, he made the move east and Hadl’s rating dropped from 57.9 to 54.0. With the next season came a chance to redeem himself. Suffice to say, he failed to do that. His rating fell to 52.8,and get this: Hadl managed just six scores through the air compared to an overwhelming and dooming 21 interceptions. The experiment was reckoned a failure, jobs were lost, and Hadl finished his playing days in Houston. If he seems overrated on this countdown, keep in mind, Hadl earned Pro Bowl honors six times before his career went nuclear in Green Bay. His TD/INT ratio (244: 268) would have benefited had he never played a down for the Packers. For a franchise we now recognize as fortunate, it’s stunning to consider how cursed they once felt in their search for a good quarterback.
4. Lynn Dickey
With a name that made Title Town giggle, Clifford Lynn Dickey led the Pack to only one postseason berth from 1976-1985 and it came during the strike-shortened season of 1982, when 16 teams got in (Long story for another time). He did carve up the St. Louis Cardinals for 260 yards and 4 TDs en route to a 41-16 victory and though Green Bay got bounced a week later, Dickey still had his fair share of eye-popping stat lines.
For instance, his mark of 418 passing yards in a game lasted 32 years before Matt Flynn broke it in January of 2012. A year prior, in 2011, Rodgers finally surpassed the club record for passing yards in a season that Dickey had set in 1983. Dickey in 1983 was cooler than Phil Collins: 4,458 passing yards and 32 touchdowns. He did, however, toss 29 picks, and so we have yet another case of a Packers QB turning the ball over too frequently. The leader of a few prolific offenses that included WR James Lofton, Dickey zipped 141 total touchdowns, but he also had 179 balls intercepted. Even with a name like that, turnovers are no laughing matter.
3. Bart Starr
Maybe he’s not the greatest QB in Packers history, but no one else cast a longer shadow or won more Super Bowls (2) than Bart Starr. He was named MVP in both victories. His brilliant career preceded the inaugural Super Bowl, enabling him to claim three titles in a row (still unmatched) and a total of five league championships. Starr’s record in the playoffs was 9-1, which is better than both Joe Montana and Tom Brady. His postseason rating of 104.8 is likewise unparalleled. Starr was a superlative leader who was at his best when it mattered most. His spot on the countdown marks a skyrocketing trend in talent. How is it fair to rank him third, behind a couple of younger whippersnappers who’ve combined to lose 16 playoff games for the Pack?
Well, the short answer is but two words: Regular seasons. After 16 years in the league, his rating was a very good but not great 80.5. His TD/INT ratio totaled at 152: 138, which, again, is not exactly great, relative to the next two quarterbacks. Granted, the game has changed so much since Starr’s playing days, which included shorter seasons, less emphasis on passing, and more legalized brutality on defense, that it’s unfair to compare Starr’s MVP campaign in ’66 to the MVP seasons of the legends to follow. All we can do is trust the criteria we’ve been harping on for equalizers: QB rating and TD/INT ratio. The only two Starr successors to win a title have posted much better stats in a larger sample size, competing against stronger and faster defenses, and so Favre and Rodgers both get the edge. Somewhere my dad is groaning. “Stats over Super Bowls?! You gotta be kiddin’ me.”
2. Brett Favre
Few athletes have been as riveting as Favre. Simply put, he was never boring. Even his somewhat forgotten season with the Jets featured a sexting scandal. Ultimately, Favre is both a class act and a deeply flawed human being. Stories abound about his passion, comedic presence, and friendly spirit, but he was also very impulsive, which explains a lot of his interceptions. Focusing on his merits for now, The Gunslinger played an enormous role in resurrecting the franchise. Among many others, Head Coach Mike Holmgren, General Manager Ron Wolf, and Hall of Fame defensive end Reggie White deserve a lot of credit, but don’t kid yourself: the three-time MVP and 11-time Pro Bowler was the most indispensable key to the Packers restoring their greatness.
In addition to bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to Title Town in Super Bowl XXXI, The Gunslinger’s lifetime stats are almost unrivaled. His 297 consecutive regular season starts is a seemingly unbreakable recor, and not just for QBs, mind you, but for all football players, ever. He’s one tough son-of-a-gun who retired as the all-time leader in touchdowns (508) and passing yards (71,838), though Peyton Manning has surpassed both marks. Unsurprisingly, he’s also tied with Eli’s bro in regular-season victories with 186. Despite being sacked and intercepted more times than anyone else, Favre’s rating of 86.0 is 5.5 points higher than Starr’s. Favre did scorn Pack fans by finishing his career with the Vikings, but all things must pass and, in 2015, Favre’s jersey was retired in an emotional ceremony made especially poignant by Favre’s country boy sincerity. His rocket arm, competitive fire, childlike enthusiasm, invincible grit, and showmanship were gifts to Green Bay. If only his decision-making skills were a little bit better.
1. Aaron Rodgers
At the risk of rehashing the obvious, the Packers transitioned directly from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers… That’s insane. Nearly a decade after the change, it’s clear that the franchise replaced an icon with another icon who is probably on his way to becoming even more iconic. Like Favre, Rodgers owns one Super Bowl ring. The Old Gunslinger does, however, hold the lead in MVP awards, 3:2, but Rodgers just turned 33. He could have about five or six more seasons to outdo his predecessor. As it stands now, Rodgers’ numbers are outrageously, unprecedentedly at the next level. Favre and Starr were outstanding quarterbacks. But they’re overmatched by the superhuman efficiency of Rodgers.
For every interception #12 has thrown, he has connected on more than four touchdowns. (289 TD: 72 INTs, as of this writing.) His INT rate is a microscopic 1.6%. Furthermore, his passer rating reads like a wicked fever: 103.8. Rodgers is currently the NFL’s all-time leader in those notable categories. Since pulling a Majkowski on Favre in 2008, Olivia Munn’s dude has averaged yards and 32 touchdowns through the air, and those stats are handicapped by a season in which he missed seven games due to injury. Rodgers is athletic and elusive, too. Reminiscent of Steve Young, he has the ability to run for first downs or evade pass rushers until a big play develops downfield. The reigning champ of rating has also scored 24 TDs on the ground. With all due respect, never mind Starr and Favre… If Rodgers maintains this level of play and wins at least one more ring, will it be fair to say he’s a better QB than Tom Brady? We’ll see. Bring on the rest of the A-Rod legacy. My brain cannot wait to explode.
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