The greatest quarterbacks in NFL history are the ones who lead their teams to Super Bowl glory, as well as compiling their own personal accolades. From Bart Starr to Joe Montana, to John Elway to Tom Brady, these players are among the elite who will be recognized as the greatest quarterbacks in the NFL’s rich history. Nevertheless, there are a number of quarterbacks who displayed greatness on the field; however, they did not lead their teams to Super Bowl triumph.
Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins
Many NFL critics believe that Marino would undoubtedly be considered among the NFL’s all-time elite quarterbacks, if not the best, had he won a Super Bowl. He spent his entire 17-year career as a Miami Dolphin, only appearing in one Super Bowl. Marino and the Dolphins were thumped by the San Francisco 49ers 38 to 16 in Super XIX. That was the season in which Marino set an NFL standard with 48 touchdown passes, and 5,084 yards completed. This was a record standing for two decades. Marino’s career is filled with superb statistics. Unfortunately, greatness in the NFL is often measured by championships, and Marino could do just about anything, but lead his Dolphins to a Super Bowl triumph. Marino won eight post-season games while losing 10.
4,967 completions; 8,358 attempts; 420 touchdown passes; 252 interceptions; 61,361 yards; 86.4 quarterback rating
Fran Tarkenton, Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants
Many NFL fans correlate Tarkenton with the three Minnesota Vikings Super Bowl losses in 1974 to the Miami Dolphins, 1975 to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and 1977 to the Oakland Raiders. The Vikings drafted Tarkenton in 1961, but traded him to the New York Giants in 1967. He returned to the Vikings in 1972 and played until 1978. Tarkenton is identified as the “Mad Scrambler”, as he was able to use his feet to gain yards as opposed to taking a sack. He paved the way for future scramblers such as Randall Cunningham, Steve Young, Donovan McNabb, and Michael Vick. Tarkenton won six post-season games and lost five. When he retired following the 1978 season, he was the record holder for pass attempts, completions, yards thrown, touchdown passes, wins by a quarterback, and rushing yards by a quarterback.
3,686 completions; 6,467 attempts; 342 touchdown passes; 266 interceptions; 47,003 yards; 80.4 quarterback rating
Dan Fouts, San Diego Chargers
Fouts played for the San Diego Chargers for the duration of his career that lasted from 1973 to 1987. Fouts’ career included some magnificent single-seasons such as the 1979, 1980, and 1981 season in which he threw for over 4,000 yards. He led the NFL in yards for four consecutive seasons from 1979 to 1982. He earned six Pro-Bowl appearances; however, he never appeared in a Super Bowl. He led the Chargers to the two AFC Champion game appearances. The knock on the Chargers throughout the Fouts era was the lackluster defense and running game. Fouts led the Chargers to three post-season victories, and four losses.
3,297 completions; 5,604 attempts; 254 touchdown passes; 242 interceptions; 43,040 yards; 80.2 quarterback rating
Honorable mentions include Jim Kelly (Buffalo Bills), Warren Moon (Houston Oilers)