As the 2009 NFL season comes to an end, after taking a look at some records set and broken this season, we open the history books and take a look at the all-time stat tables and how they shape up after another year, starting with the top 10 quarterbacks on the passing touchdowns list.
Number 10 – Joe Montana, 273
Maybe the greatest quarterback ever and certainly the greatest one when it really matters (making him the best in my eyes), leading the San Fransisco 49ers to four Super Bowl triumphs, winning the MVP award of the Super Bowl three times. He also won the league MVP twice (1989-1990) and went to eight pro-bowl games. He finished his career with a 117-47 record as a starter, 40,551 passing yards and 273 touchdowns, leading the league in TD’s twice (1982 with 17 and 1987 with 31, his personal best).
Number 9 – Tom Brady, 274
Following an incredible regular season (36-4 TD-INT) and another playoff disappointment, Brady makes it into the top 10. He holds the record for most touchdown thrown in a season with 50 from 2007, that 16-0 year which ended 18-1. In 2010 he threw for more than 30 for only the second time in his career, with his usual numbers around 24-28 a season.
Number 8 – Vinny Testaverde, 275
It’s funny that Testaverde is ranked higher than Montana, but I guess longevity helps in these kind of charts. Testaverde playing in the NFL for 21 seasons, retiring after the 2007 season, finishing his career with the Carolina Panthers, his eighth stop along the way. Testaverde holds a few interesting records – the only QB to throw a touchdown pass in 21 consecutive seasons and throwing a TD to 70 different players. Another, less positive record, is holding the record for most losses (123) for a starting quarterback. Testaverde finished his career with a 90-123-1 starting record, 46,233 passing yards and 275 touchdowns, making the pro-bowl twice.
Number 7 – Johnny Unitas, 290
The first player on our list who played in the pre-merger NFL between 1955 and 1973, mostly for the Baltimore Colts. Unitas, nicknamed the Golden Arm, won two NFL championships (1958-1959) and one Super Bowl (1970). He went to 10 Pro-Bowls and won three MVP awards (1959, 1964, 1967), finishing his career with 40,239 passing yards and 290 touchdowns, leading the league in TD’s for four consecutive seasons (1957-1960), posting his career high 32 in 1959. Unitas threw a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games, still an NFL record.
Number 6 – Warren Moon, 291
One of only two people who are members of both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (along with Bud Grant), Moon went started his football career in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with the Edmonton Eskimos, leading them to five consecutive Grey Cup victories (1978-1982), before joining the NFL in 1984, with the Houston Oilers winning the bidding war for the gun slinging QB. Moon played 10 seasons in Houston, followed by periods with the Vikings, Seahawks and Chiefs, retiring after the 2000 season. Moon’s NFL career numbers – Starter record of 102-101, 49,325 passing yards and 291 touchdown passes. Moon went to the Pro-Bowl nine times. He holds a unique record of being the oldest quarterback to throw a touchdown pass in overtime, closing on 39 at the time. Moon led the NFL in TD’s once, 1989, throwing 33, a number he matched in 1995.
Number 5 – John Elway, 300
Here’s a perfect example of finishing on top, retiring a few months after winning back to back Super Bowls. Elway is probably the greatest athlete in Denver history, starting at QB for the Broncos for 16 seasons, his entire NFL career. He made the Super Bowl five times, losing the first three (1986, 1987, 1989 seasons), holding the record for most career Super Bowl interceptions with eight. Elway retired with a 148-82-1 win-loss record, 51,475 passing yards and exactly 300 TD’s thrown. Elway also holds the record for the being sacked (516) more than any other quarterback in history. He also made it to nine Pro-Bowls.
Number 4 – Fran Tarkenton, 342
Another old-school era QB, Tarkenton started (1961) and ended (1978) his 18 season NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings, with 5 years with the NY Giants coming in the middle. Tarkenton made it to three Super Bowls but lost them all, leading the Vikings during their Purple People Eater period. Tarkenton finished his career with 342 touchdowns, 47,003 yards and a 124-109-6 starting record, leading the league in touchdowns once (1975, 25). He threw for over 10 touchdowns a season in 17 of his 18 career seasons and was the all time leader in the NFL in almost every major passing category when he retired.
Number 3 – Peyton Manning, 399 (Still Active)
The first of two active players on this list, Peyton is probably having one of the tougher weeks of his career, suffering an overtime Super Bowl loss against the Saints earlier this week, a probable setback in his claim for greatest quarterback ever, as one Super Bowl victory might not be enough when it’s all said and done in who knows how many years. Maybe he isn’t the greatest clutch time performer, but if he keeps his healthy streak going on for the years to come a-la Brett Favre, he’ll probably own every quarterback record in the book. Right now he’s at 366 career touchdowns, never finishing with less than 26 in a season, leading the league three times and setting an NFL record 49 in 2004, since broken by Tom Brady.
Number 2 – Dan Marino, 420
Maybe the greatest quarterback never to win a championship, Marino holds or held almost every Major NFL passing record. He came into the league with John Elway and Jim Kelly (another great with no title) in 1983, playing his entire career for the Miami Dolphins, retiring in 2000 after another playoff exit. Marino made it to the Pro-Bowl nine times, and won the NFL MVP once, in 1984. He led the league in touchdowns for three consecutive seasons (1984-1986), posting two 40+ seasons with 48 and 44. He had 61,361 yards and 420 touchdowns during his 242 NFL games, finishing with a 147-93 starting record.
Number 1 – Brett Favre, 508 (Still Active??)
Will he make it to 500? You never know with Favre, but if recent history teaches us about Brett’s future, he’ll be back, maybe with the Vikings, maybe with someone else, in another attempt to get another, second Super Bowl ring. Marino having his records broken – mostly Brett Favre work. A three time MVP (1995-1997), Favre reached two consecutive Super Bowl games, beating the Patriots in SB XXXI, his only title ring. The major records he holds, as of now – most career touchdown passes (497), most career passing yards (69,329), most victories as starting QB (169) and most consecutive starts with 285.