By John Turney
And three quarterbacks that are oft-mentioned are Ken Stabler, Dan Fouts, Bob Griese, and Joe Namath. We are not saying we agree, but we'd be lying if we didn't say we don't know what those arguments are about.
We've highlighted the careers of some of the HOF hopefuls and Stabler, Fouts, and Namath. Light blue means we've estimated that is an "excellent season". Light red means "good". Purple and orange are less than excellent or good.
We will fully admit we just eyeballed these seasons so if you have a beef with our classifications we will agree with you. But this is simply something to illustrate how many excellent and good seasons these quarterbacks had.
As a jumping off a point for discussion, we chose Ken Anderson, Roman Gabriel, John Brodie, Joe Theismann, and Phil Simms. All won MVP awards and Theismann won a ring and Simms won two rings.
heated three-year process.
Raiders executive Al LoCasalle told us in the 1990s, concerning Stabler and the Hall of Fame, "Kenny had some great years but he also had some bad years". And that is true. We count only six excellent/good seasons. He was the consensus MVP in 1976 and won the Maxwell Club MVP in 1976 and won a ring that year.
We've seen Fouts get some grief from critics because he never won it all. He was the consensus MVP in 1982 and set all sorts of passing records. He didn't have a high passer rating and we think that sets off some of the statniks about his career while Ken Anderson won four passing titles which is based on the passer rating.
Air Coryell, the Chargers offensive nickname threw more downfield and is riskier than the West Coast Offense Anderson was in took more chances and threw more risky balls and therefore, more interceptions. And due to those factors, Fouts usually had a lower passer rating than Anderson.
However, it's not like Fouts didn't have a good rating (89.6 from 1980-83), he did. Just not quite like a peak Anderson or Joe Montana had.
We've added in Bob Griese who did have 2 titles and a 1971 NEA MVP but sometimes gets some shade for so-so statistics. We have 1972 as incomplete because he was hurt most of the season but he did come back in time to QB a win in the Super Bowl.
Our take is sans the ring his career compares favorably with Ken Stabler and if Stabler is in, then why not Anderson? Well, that's the question we see on chat boards, Twitter and other players we surf. Is that a valid reason? Well, according to Bill James, yes.
We have no stake in the debate so we don't care if Anderson gets in or not. Like for all HOFers, it's a tough process and if they get in they are, in effect, worthy.
However, in all honesty, we cannot see how Anderson is any better or more qualified that other quarterbacks that get mentioned, like Gabriel Brokie, Theismann, and Simms.
read about that here. His 1967 season was MVP-worthy and in 1969 he won the MVP. But we find only four total excellent seasons and four others that were good and that is being pretty generous (as we have been with all the quarterbacks here, i.e. 1970-72 is especially generous.
Also, he actually did some impressive work in his first four years, going 11-11-1 in wins/losses when other Rams QBs of that span were 4-27-2. Playing .500 ball on that team is noteworthy, if maybe not HOF material.
Frankly, we never saw Gabriel as a Hall of Fame quarterback. There seems to be some resurgent interest in his career but we know his game well, have seen him play a lot and there are some fantastic things on film—his arm, his short-yardage running, his avoidance of interceptions. He also, in the 1960s, had a super-strong arm. He could deliver a strike on the 'out' from the far hash, something only a few quarterbacks could do—he, Namath, maybe Bukich in that era.
However, it never struck us as in the same category as the HOFers from his era like Jurgensen, Starr, Namath, and others. To us, he's a solid Hall of Very Good.
Theismann had six excellent/good seasons and has his ring and an MVP (1983). Perhaps if hey had won it all in 1983 it would make a difference. But if the ring makes the difference then he gets a leg up on some of these others but if not, he's behind Gabriel and Brodie. And we don't see them as HOF, we see both as Hall of Very Good.
All told it seems to us that while we get the "he had as good a career as Stabler" debate that either all the quarterbacks are HOF-worthy or none of them are. The committee will, of course, make the decision but gun to our head, all would be Hall of Very Good.