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Tribal Warfare
03-05-2009, 01:36 AM
Great Ones Hard To Find (http://www.kcchiefs.com/news/2009/03/04/great_ones_hard_to_find/)
Mar 04, 2009, 8:54:04 AM by Bob Gretz - FAQ

dawson16At the Pro Football Hall of Fame there are busts of 23 quarterbacks from the modern era (post-1946) who have received enshrinement in the hallowed halls of Canton.

Think about that for a second: 23 quarterbacks over the last 63 years.

This is the game’s premier position, the guy who gets too much credit, too much blame and all the attention. It’s why the four highest paid players in the league last year were quarterbacks: Peyton Manning ($18.7 million), Tom Brady ($14.62 million), Carson Palmer ($13.98 million) and Aaron Rodgers ($13.95 million).

Those 23 Hall of Fame quarterbacks seems like a very small total. It’s further evidence that great quarterbacks are hard to find. They just don’t fall out of the trees and into a team’s offense with any regularity.

Consider that there are 32 teams in the NFL right now and nine have never had a Hall of Fame quarterback on their roster. That group includes the Chicago-St. Louis-Arizona Cardinals, who began play in 1920. That group includes the Boston-New England Patriots, who began play in 1960. The Pats do have a Hall of Famer in waiting in Tom Brady.

Even those teams that once had Hall of Fame quarterbacks haven’t seen one for some time. The Rams haven’t had one in Los Angeles or St. Louis since 1957 (Norm Van Brocklin). There’s not been one in Chicago with the Bears since 1958 (George Blanda). The Cleveland Browns have gone since 1961 (Len Dawson) without a Hall of Fame type quarterback on their roster and with the Philadelphia Eagles since 1963 (Sonny Jurgensen).

There are only three teams that have had more than one modern day HOF-QB who spent the bulk of their career with that team: Miami with Bob Griese and Dan Marino; San Francisco with Joe Montana and Steve Young; and Dallas with Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman. On the horizon, it’s probably safe to say that Green Bay with Bart Starr and Brett Favre and the Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts with Johnny Unitas and Peyton Manning will join the club as well. That’s five of 32, or 16 percent of the league.

Chiefs fans have waited a long time for a great quarterback. They’ve seen a lot of faces come and go under center. They hope today that Matt Cassel is the answer they’ve been seeking since Dawson retired after the 1975 season.

Cassel will join a long list of hopefuls: there have been 21 different quarterbacks start at least one game for the Chiefs. Trent Green lasted the longest, with 88 starts. The Chiefs have had five Pro Bowl appearances from quarterbacks in the last 33 years: Bill Kenney in ‘83, Joe Montana in ‘93, Elvis Grbac ‘00 and Trent Green in ‘03/’05. They’ve not had a championship.

But Chiefs fans, your wait is nothing compared to other teams in the league. Let’s start in Detroit, where Bobby Layne was traded at the start of the 1958 season to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Since then, the Lions have started 23 different quarterbacks. Only one made the Pro Bowl: Greg Landry in 1973. There have been no championships. For the 2009 season, the Lions have no established starting quarterback.

In Cleveland, Hall of Famer Otto Graham retired after the 1955 season. Since then, the Browns won one NFL championship, that in 1964. There have been 28 starting quarterbacks since Graham and five got trips to the Pro Bowl, including Frank Ryan, who led the ‘64 team to the title. None of those other quarterbacks has gotten close to joining Graham in the Hall of Fame. For the 2009 season, the Browns have no established starting quarterback.

Joe Namath’s last season with the New York Jets was 1976. Since then, the Jets have had 23 different quarterbacks start games and three made the Pro Bowl: Ken O’Brien (1985, 1991), Boomer Esiason (1993) and Vinny Testaverde (1998). None are future Hall of Famers and there have not been any championships. For the 2009 season, the Jets have no established starting quarterback.

Up in the Twin Cities, Frank Tarkenton’s final season with the Vikings was 1978. There have been 20 starting quarterbacks since then and four earned trips to the Pro Bowl, but none led Minnesota to a championship. One of those Pro Bowl Vikings quarterbacks was Warren Moon, who played three years in Minnesota near the end of his career. For the 2009 season, the Vikings have no established starting quarterback.

Dan Fouts never led the San Diego to a Super Bowl title, but the Chargers won a lot of games with him and Fouts made the Hall of Fame. Since his final season there in 1987, the Chargers have had 19 starting quarterbacks and only one made the Pro Bowl: Drew Brees in 2005. There still have been no championships. For the 2009 season, the Chargers actually have an established starting quarterback in Philip Rivers.

John Elway retired after the Broncos second Super Bowl season in 1998. In the 10 seasons since, Denver had eight different quarterbacks start games and two earned Pro Bowl trips: Brian Griese in’00 and Jay Cutler in ‘08. There have been no more championships. Going into the 2009 season, it would appear Cutler is established as the team’s starter, but recent events involving the possible trade of the young quarterback certainly roiled the waters in Denver.

Out in Oakland, Jim Plunkett led the Raiders to a pair of Super Bowl titles and retired after the 1986 season. Since then, the Raiders have had 11 different quarterbacks lead the team in passing yardage and two made the Pro Bowl: Jeff Hostetler (’94) and Rich Gannon (’99-02). Only Gannon led the team back into the Super Bowl, losing after the 2002 season to Oakland. The Raiders hope they have an established starting quarterback for the 2009 season in JaMarcus Russell.

The evidence is everywhere folks – as if Chiefs fans needed to be reminded — great quarterbacks are hard to find.