It's the time of year where NFL lists are rampant. The most recent being NFL.com's Elliot Harrison's ranking of teams based on their three best quarterbacks in franchise history. Upon seeing the headline, I instantly began thinking of a few that would be top five, with the Raiders following close behind. But in his list, the Raiders fall out of the top ten. Let's examine that.
Harrison puts the Raiders at the 12 spot, which is respectable, but when you see the teams around that range, that ranking, in my opinion, would appear to be a bit low.
He cites, in this order, the Raiders three best quarterbacks in franchise history:
Ken Stabler, Daryle Lamonica, Jim Plunkett
Here is what he says about his choices and the Raiders rank:
One of the toughest omissions from this entire exercise was Rich Gannon, who earned NFL MVP honors as a Raider in 2002. Tenure, unfortunately, did him in, as all of the above served the Silver and Black longer. Stabler won an NFL MVP, as well, and led the team to a win in Super Bowl XI. Lamonica threw more touchdown passes than anyone from 1967 to 1971. Plunkett, who led the team to two Super Bowl wins, narrowly edged out Gannon.
As Harrison points out, he realizes it was a tough choice leaving Gannon off the list. That alone should offer an indication of how strong the Raiders quarterbacks have been historically speaking.
Even still, ranked ahead of the Raiders are these trios:
11. Giants: Eli Manning, Phil Simms, Y.A. Tittle
10. Browns: Otto Graham, Bernie Kosar, Frank Ryan
9. Dolphins: Dan Marino, Bob Griese, Ryan Tannehill
8. Chargers: Dan Fouts, Philip Rivers, John Hadl
7. Steelers: Terry Bradshaw, Ben Roethlisberger, Neil O'Donnell
6. Rams: Norm Van Brocklin, Kurt Warner, Bob Waterfield
The next up is Washington with Sammy Baugh, Sonny Jurgensen, and Joe Theisman. I don't see the Raiders trio in that class and I have no disagreement with any of his selections in the top five (more on that later). But I do see them landing not far behind them. So, let's examine.
Eli Manning has been a disaster in recent seasons following his two Super Bowl wins. He will be a bit of a tough sell as a Hall of Famer because of it. Very much like Jim Plunkett who is the third best quarterback on the Raiders trio. Phil Simms won a Super Bowl. So did Ken Stabler. But Stabler was far better in his era than Simms was in his. Tittle spent four seasons in the NFL. Nothing like the sustained long term success of "The Mad Bomber" Lamonica who took the Raiders to Super Bowl II.
As for the Browns? Otto Graham is a legend and Hall of Famer. No doubting his credentials. After that it gets less certain. Bernie Kosar and his one Pro Bowl appearance? Come on. Moving on.
The Dolphins have a case for their position. Dan Marino is one of the greatest to every play the game, and Bob Griese is a Hall of Famer in his own rite who led the Dolphins to the only undefeated season in NFL history. Having to pick Ryan Tannehill tells you after Marino and Griese, that's pretty much it. Harrison even had to evoke the name of Jay Fiedler.
Next is the Chargers with Dan Fouts as a no brainer lock as one of the best to every sling it. Philip Rivers has been a very good franchise quarterback for the Chargers and is in the class of at least two of the Raiders' best. John Hadl was a 6-time AFL All Star who never had a losing record and helped lead the Chargers to three AFL Championship game appearances in the early 60s, though he was not the starter when they won it in 1963. I probably wouldn't put the Chargers quite this high in the ranking, but not far off.
The Steelers have six Super Bowl trophies and one AFC Championship trophy and the trio of quarterbacks here were all part of the reason why. Bradshaw had a lot of help from the Steelers defenses in the 70s, but then again, the same could be said for Plunkett and Stabler. Ben Roethisberger has won two Super Bowls of his own and Neil O'Donnell led them to a Super Bowl as well.
Norm Van Brocklin and Kurt Warner heading up the Rams will also not be surpassed by the Raiders quarterbacks.
I would say the Raiders trio deserves to be at the ninth spot, moving ahead of the Giants, Browns, and Chargers. Even with the fact that they actually had four great quarterbacks when the Dolphins couldn't even fill out three, it's tough to put them ahead of two Hall of Famers from the same franchise.
By the way, here are the top four:
1. Packers: Bart Starr, Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre
2. Colts: Johnny Unitas, Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck
3. Cowboys: Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, Tony Romo
4. 49ers: Joe Montana, Steve Young, John Brodie
To see his entire team rankings, click here.