The Arms Race
The NFL has seen its share of great passers, but who's the best? We crunch the numbers for the top 10 of all time
From the Print Edition:
Francis Ford Coppola, Sept/Oct 03
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#8 Warren Moon: 6.66
If you add Warren Moon's Canadian Football League (CFL) yards (21,228) to his NFL total (49,325), his combined professional yardage is 70,553—some 9,000 more than Dan Marino and 19,000 ahead of anyone else.
Moon left the CFL because winning was getting boring. He led the Edmonton Eskimos to five championships in six years. Moon then played with four NFL teams, none of which was terribly good. Thus, he was better known for individual feats than team accomplishments. He passed for 527 yards in one game in 1990. Seven times he passed for more than 400 yards.
In 17 NFL seasons (1984ñ2000) he played in only 10 playoff games. In four of those, he surpassed 300 yards passing, but lost all four. Against Buffalo in 1992, he completed 36 passes—a playoff record—but his Houston Oilers lost in overtime, 41-38.
His ranking here is bumped up because he threw for 7.3 yards per attempt with a 3.41 interception percentage.
#9 Bart Starr: 6.643
There's an impression that all Bart Starr had to do for the Packers was to hand the ball off to a back and watch him run the sweep. Not once did he have to throw 300 passes in a year. However, when he did throw, he averaged 7.85 yards per attempt, third behind Graham and Young on this list.
He started as a 17th-round draft choice in 1956 and was hardly playing three years later. But when Vince Lombardi took over as head coach in 1959, he decided to build the team around Starr. Over an eight-year period, from 1960 through 1967, Green Bay won 82, lost 24 and tied four. The Packers won five NFL championships in seven years and Starr was awarded the MVP in the first two Super Bowls.
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