Editor’s note: As part of NFL’s Greatest Quarterback, fans will decide the best quarterback in team, division, conference and league history.
Johnny Unitas: Unitas was to the 1960s in the NFL what Otto Graham was to the league in the decade before him. Unitas’ Baltimore Colts were dominant in his time with the squad, winning four championships. Unitas was a three-time MVP during his nineteen-year career and a 10-time Pro Bowl selection.
He was named to the 1960s All-Decade Team and the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team. Unitas passed for 40,239 yards during his career, with 290 touchdowns and 253 interceptions. Unitas was the first quarterback to throw for more than 40,000 career yards and he was the first to pass the 30-touchdown plateau in a single season.
Earl Morrall: Morrall played 21 years in the NFL and was named to Pro Bowls eleven years apart. He won the 1968 NFL MVP after replacing an injured Unitas during the preseason.
Morrall started 26 games for the Colts and lead them to an unbelievable 22-3-1 record during the regular season, while adding a 2-1 record in the playoffs. When Morrall retired in 1976 at the age of 42, he was the oldest quarterback to start and win an NFL game. After his retirement, he became the quarterbacks coach at the University of Miami, where he coached Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar and Vinny Testaverde.
Bert Jones: Jones led the Colts for nine seasons after being drafted No. 2 overall in 1973 as the replacement for Unitas. The Colts made three playoff appearances under Jones, but lost in the first round in all three seasons — 1975, 1976 and 1977.
Jones had an almost unheard of for the time 102.5 quarterback rating in 1976 — the same season he was named the NFL’s MVP. Bill Belichick said that Jones was the best pure passer he ever saw. Belichick served as a special assistant for the Colts in 1975.
Peyton Manning: Manning may play in Denver now, but he’s one of the best players to ever suit up for the Colts organization. Not only did Manning lead the Colts to their first championship since 1970, but he also holds most of the Colts’ passing records and an impressive list of NFL records, as well.
Manning may not have the rings that Tom Brady accumulated in the 2000s, but he was statistically the best quarterback of the decade. Manning has a league-record four MVPs, appeared in 11 Pro Bowls and has been voted to eight All-Pro teams.
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