Football’s 10 Most Influential Quarterbacks: Pioneers of The American Football Culture

In no particular order, here is my take on the 10 most influential quarterbacks, who helped pave the way for the quarterbacks of today.  - Steve Clarkson 

Bart Starr, (Greenbay Packers) - Was the ultimate leader, and the one man that Vince Lombardi listened to.  Bart was also the favorite player of the late President Nixon and was the true quarterback of the community. 

 Bob Waterfield, (LA Rams)- He was the first real showman.  During his time in Los Angeles, he was the star of stars.  He had the arm of the well -known Jane Russel.  Simply……devine. 

Fran Tarkenton, (Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants) - In a land of giants, I have never seen someone so undersized dominate a position.  In a position that generally requires above average height, Fran brought the art of dance to the grid iron with his ability to scramble out of harms way.

 Johnny Unitas, (Baltimore Colts) - Most famous for his championship swagger.  Johnny had the amazing ability to come back from adversity.  I will always remember his incredible passion to compete and unwavering determination.  Johnny will always have Pittsburgh Steelers fans wondering, “What if?”  Of course, how can I not mention those black high-tops.

Joe Montana, (San Francisco 49ers) - Although Bill Walsh was the architect of the West Coast Offense, it was Joe’s ability to master this system and create his own interpretation of Bill’s principles that made him so spectacular.  Although Bill gets credit for the very successful coaching tree, you would have to say that Joe was the root and foundation of the 49er organization.

 John Elway, (Denver Broncos) - Football’s version of Kurt Flood. His skill set was so unique that it allowed him to leverage his baseball contract with the Yankees, which then lead him to play football in the city that he wanted to, Denver, CO.  He was a tall version of Fran Tarkinton with a Nolan Ryan arm.  He played as if he had eyes in the back of his head.  His ability to lead teams with mediocre talent was unparalleled.  He was the gold standard at the quarterback position.   

Joe Namath, (New York Jets) - He was drafted by both the NFL and the new rival upstart AFL, which helped him garner the richest contract in professional football history, (at that time), of $400,000.  Joe was every man and woman’s dream, as they all wanted to be like him or be with him.  Although on the field he is best known for guaranteeing victory over the powerful Balitmore Colts in Super Bowl III, he was much more.  In an era of black cleats, Joe rocked the famous white shoes.  Even while injured, Joe made headlines on the sideline wearing his custom made cords, sunglasses and mink coat…that was Joe, Joe did it with style.  Joe was football’s Marilyn Monroe.


Ken Stabler, (Oakland Raiders) - Played for the ultimate team, with the matching bad boy reputation.  He was THE closer, and continually snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.  Who could ever forget the “holy roller” against the Chargers?  Or the flip against the Dolphins in the 1970’s playoffs.  He was also responsible for inspiring the great Al Davis to coin one of the best sports catch phrases, “Just win baby.” 

 Sammy Baugh, (Washington Redskins) - Sammy was the “do everything” football player. He was the Jim Thorpe of his time.  He was the first to master the art of the forward pass.  The ultimate showman with the unforgettable number….#33

Terry Bradshaw, (Pittsburgh Steelers) - 4-time Super Bowl Champion with the Steelers.  Bradshaw changed the norm that you had to go to a big named college program to be successful in the pros.  Terry made that same path possible for fellow Louisiana Tech Karl Malone, who then went on to the NBA.