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In 1973, the 14 AFC teams housed 8 Hall of Fame quarterbacks. The AFC East had Joe Namath and Bob Griese with the Jets and Dolphins, the AFC Central had Pittsburgh’s Terry Bradshaw, and the AFC West had five HOF QBs: Len Dawson was with the Chiefs, while the Chargers had a first-year Dan Fouts and a last-year Johnny Unitas. The Raiders? They had Ken Stabler and George Blanda. And in the NFC, Sonny Jurgensen and Roger Staubach were the signal callers for Washington and Dallas, while Fran Tarkenton was the Vikings quarterback. That means the ’73 NFL (along with the ’70 and ’71 versions, which didn’t have Fouts but did have Bart Starr) housed 11 future Hall of Fame passers. And that excludes Ken Anderson, of course, who entered the league in ’71.

Meanwhile, in ’81 and ’82 — at a time, I’ll note, when Ken Anderson was doing pretty darn well — there were just four active HOF QBs. Stabler, who finally made it as a seniors’ nominee last year, Fouts, Bradshaw, and Joe Montana. On average, there have been about 7-8 active HOF quarterbacks at any one time.

Year	Act HOF QBs
1997	6
1996	7
1995	7
1994	8
1993	8
1992	8
1991	7
1990	7
1989	7
1988	6
1987	7
1986	7
1985	6
1984	6
1983	6
1982	4
1981	4
1980	5
1979	6
1978	6
1977	7
1976	7
1975	9
1974	10
1973	11
1972	10
1971	11
1970	11
1969	9
1968	8
1967	8
1966	7
1965	7
1964	7
1963	7
1962	8
1961	8
1960	8
1959	7
1958	8
1957	8
1956	6
1955	5
1954	5
1953	5
1952	7
1951	7
1950	8

Whether that number is high or low is up to you, and of course being “active” is different than being a starter, which is different from being a productive starter. But it does help to put some guidelines around things when discussing HOF quarterbacks, as we did two days ago.

  • Paul

    When Peyton manning, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers retire as surefire locks, I wonder how the rest of the borderline candidates will look, with Kurt Warner active in 2009, I wonder if that will be high point of the 2000s, or what the 2010s will be like.

    • sacramento gold miners

      Drew Brees and Big Ben are surefire locks, and Eli Manning is behind them, but will eventually get in. Phillip Rivers should get in after Manning, and that could be it for quite a while. I feel the committee will look at winning even more closely in the future, as the better QBs pile up numbers helped by the rules changes.

      • bigcheeese

        I will glafly eat crow if Rapistberger sniffs the HoF his first three years of eligibility

        • sacramento gold miners

          Mark my words, it’ll happen. Just like Bettis was elected, and Hines Ward will be eventually selected as well.

          We just can’t make allegations without facts, there’s been enough of that already. If someone wasn’t charged, it’s just speculation as to what really happened.

          • Richie

            I agree that Roethlisberger will get in. I am not sure if he SHOULD get in or not.

            However, bigcheese’s comment was that Roethlisberger won’t get in in his first 3 years. I think that is a plausible statement.

            (Of course, if Roethlisberger has an MVP-type season and/or wins another Super Bowl, his HOF probability will increase significantly.)

            • sacramento gold miners

              Who knows, some voters may use off field allegations as a reason to delay their vote. Ray Lewis was involved in much more serious matter, so maybe a few voters will be affected. Even Peyton Manning was accused of sexual harassment in college. I do think the presence of Manning and Tom Brady have overshadowed to a certain degree, the other HOF-caliber QBs of this era.

              Honestly, I think Ben, Brees, and Rodgers will all be first ballot.

          • Considering the appalling public record of college and professional sports figures getting away with sexual assault I don’t think speculation about Ben Rothlesberger’s history in that regard is irresponsible at all. Should that keep him out of the Hall of Fame? I don’t make that call. But I believe his accusers because the accusation is completely plausible. A powerful man took sexual favors from a woman because he felt entitled to her because of his fame or celebrity? That’s dog-bites-man commonplace.

            • sacramento gold miners

              The problem is, we don’t really know what happened in Georgia. Ditto for the Peyton Manning case at Tennessee, and I don’t think we should be convicting anyone without a full investigation. We’ve had enough of that already in non-sports incidents. Police decided not to press charges, and accusers aren’t always truthful, we all remember the Duke Lacrosse case several years ago.

              • The Duke LaCross case is a black swan event. I weigh it against the overwhelming evidence that the shoe is almost always on the other foot. And this isn’t a court of law. No one here has the power to throw Big Ben in jail or force him into retirement. In fact, considering the current occupant of the Oval Office I even question whether accusations of sexual assault have any sway at all on the public perception of powerful men.

                What I DO know because women in my life have told me, is that every time fans rush to defend athletes in such legalistic fashion they reinforce the perception that there is no use in coming forward in the first place. Ben Rothlesberger or Jameis Winston will get their millions and all their accusers/victims will get is public shaming.

                • sacramento gold miners

                  Couldn’t agree more about the seriousness of sexual assault, and authentic cases should result in the most severe penalty allowed under the law. But we do know about erroneous allegations, and every case should be fully investigated to uncover the truth. Some people do target pro athletes and the famous, realizing those folks would prefer a settlement over a long, drawn out court case.

                  The Jameis Winston situation is much different than Big Ben’s. The local police department, with some FSU connection, bungled the case so completely the state attorney of the second judicial court had to step in to investigate the case from scratch. Also, the accuser has gone public for some time, and Winston has been in trouble with the law before.

                  This topic is about active HOF QBs, and I just don’t think we can deny someone who deserves entry based on unproven allegations when the local PD did their job and found evidence insufficient to press charges. I’ve seen no proof in Ben’s situation of mismanagement in the investigation.

  • Richie

    It doesn’t quite seem appropriate for 1/4 of the league’s QB’s to be future HOFers. (In 1994 there were 8 HOF QB’s out of 28 teams, 29%.) Dan Marino, John Elway, Joe Montana, Warren Moon, Steve Young, Jim Kelly, Troy Aikman and Brett Favre. But they were all legitimate starters that year. Six of them were in the top 10 for passing yards. Kelly was 13th and Aikman was 16th. And I don’t have much heartache about any of them being in the HOF. I would say Marino, Elway, Montana, Moon, Kelly and probably Aikman were considered likely HOFers at the time. Young was at best a “maybe” and Favre probably wasn’t on anybody’s list yet.

    Recent history says there were probably 6-8 active QB’s in 2016 who will make the HOF: Brady, Rodgers and Brees should be no-doubters. If we assume Roethlisberger and Eli Manning get in, that leaves 1-3 others who will probably get in. Another MVP season and/or Super Bowl run could be enough for Matt Ryan. I think Rivers needs to have another playoff run to get more respect. Russell Wilson is on a pretty good path toward the HOF. Then there are the guys like Luck, Newton, Winston, Carr, Wentz, Prescott or Mariota could be the “Brett Favre” of the group.

    So despite 25% HOFers not “feeling” right – based on history it obviously is right.

    • I think the reason it doesn’t “feel” right is because, as Chase mentions, not all the active Hall of Famers are playing like Hall of Famers. I’d say at any given time it feels like about 3 or 4 quarterbacks are Hall of Famers, because that’s how many there are who have already established Hall credential *and* are still playing at an elite level.

      In other words, there are 3 or 4 known Hall of Famers still in their primes (or close to it) at any given time. The rest of the active Hall of Famers are over-the-hill guys, who don’t feel like Hall of Famers because they aren’t that good anymore, and unknown young guys who don’t feel like Hall of Famers because we don’t know which ones among them will make it.

      • sacramento gold miners

        I think we could be headed for a downward number of HOF QBs. Don’t know if Ryan or Newton will ever return to the SB, and the young guys are just getting started. Matt Stafford may never reach a SB, and Russell Wilson is pushing 30 already. 10-20 years from now, we may be reminiscing about the golden era of 2000-present, in terms of HOF QBs.

    • Adam

      It’s obviously right based on the current standards, but I think the bar is too low. I don’t think Kelly or Aikman should be in Canton, nor should Roethlisberger, Rivers, Ryan, or Eli (especially not Eli). The HOF distinction loses meaning when we allow the very good to contaminate its waters.

    • mszabo

      It’s not 25%, there are 108 QB’s in the league this year so that’s 5-7% HOFers, assuming this 6-8 stat holds true for 2016.

    • Wilson and Luck are the most interesting to me. One has championship credentials and great efficiency stats, and the other has the Elway-esque high draft pick, once in a generation prospect who carries a bad team despite ugly stats label. Who knows how their fortunes will change as their teams change around them, but they seem like the guys to watch.

      I agree that 25% of starters (which is very obviously what you meant) seems too high, despite what history has shown us.

    • Justin Smith

      I think Winston will be the guy that wills himself to be a hall of fame QB. He’s going to have some opportunities to take the young Bucs places in the coming seasons.