If the feedback I’ve received on every other NFL list I’ve posted is any indication my selections for the top five best NFL quarterbacks of the 2000s is certain to spark some healthy debate. In my opinion, the main bone of contention won’t be the names on the list – I believe these five gentlemen undeniably separated themselves from their peers from 2000-2009 – but rather the order in which they appear. After much internal debate I’ve carved my list in stone. Read on to see which NFL gunslingers made the cut of the best of the past decade:
5 – Brett Favre
The term “ageless wonder” certainly applies to this man. In this incredibly physical sport Brett Favre continues to defy the odds, and at 40 years of age looks every bit as good as quarterbacks 15 years his junior. After leaving the Green Bay Packers at the end of the 2007 season it looked like the sun was setting on Favre’s remarkable career. Favre showed his doubters he still had some game left, leading his new team – the New York Jets – to an 8-3 record to start the 2008 season. However, injuries to his throwing arm would cause Favre’s game to unravel late in the year.
The 2009 season would be his best of the decade, and Favre put up a jaw-dropping 107.2 QB rating, and led the Vikings to the NFC championship where they lost in overtime in a classic matchup against the New Orleans Saints.
Over the course of the decade Favre threw more than 250 touchdowns and over 38,000 yards, and made the Pro Bowl six times.
4 – Drew Brees
This Austin Texas native split the decade between the San Diego Chargers and the New Orleans Saints. During that span he hurled more than 200 touchdowns, and put up an impressive regular season QB rating of 91.9, including a whopping 109.6 rating in the 2009 season. He has been even better in the playoffs, with a 103.7 post-season rating in six games. He was a machine during the Saints’ 2009 playoff run, delivering time and again and earning MVP honors as he brought the city of New Orleans the Super Bowl championship they had craved for so long.
3 – Ben Roethlisberger
Though his image has certainly suffered from his off-field activities, no one can deny how great “Big Ben” has been on the field over the past decade. An active NFL player only since 2004, Roethlisberger has a smaller body of work than others on this list, but he has certainly done an incredible amount in his relatively short time in the league.
Most notably, of course, is the two Super Bowl rings Roethlisberger has earned as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Built like a linebacker, with a gun for an arm, Roethlisberger might not be a prototypical QB, but he has certainly been an effective one. As a starter he has won more than twice as many games as he has lost, compiling an impressive 60-26 regular season record. Yes, he has benefitted greatly from the stellar defense that plays in front of him, but his clutch performances make him a no-brainer for a high spot on the list of the best quarterbacks of the 2000s.
2 – Tom Brady
This was an agonizing decision, and so close that I briefly considered calling a tie for first. However, as every Highlander fan knows, there can only be one, so I was forced to make a tough decision. I’m sure I’ll earn some grief for the choice I made, but so be it.
Tom Brady’s career – all of it spent as a member of the New England Patriots – has been nothing short of amazing. Since entering the league to start the 2000 season Brady has earned three Super Bowl rings, led his team to an undefeated regular season, won 97 of 127 regular season starts and has twice been named Super Bowl MVP. In 2007, the same season the Patriots went undefeated, Brady threw for an NFL record 50 touchdowns during the regular season, just one of a bevy of NFL records he earned that year.
In short, Brady is a winner. He has consistently delivered in the biggest games, and thought his career is far from over, he’s already done enough to cement his place as one of the greatest of all time.
1 – Peyton Manning
Once the number two spot was decided there was absolutely no mystery which player would nab the crown as my pick for the best NFL quarterback of the 2000s. Peyton Manning is a master of picking apart opposing defenses, and on many nights his pinpoint passing ability makes this incredible athlete all but unstoppable.
Over the past decade Manning has thrown more touchdowns (314) than any other QB. In that span, only twice did he have a QB rating lower than 94.7, and in 2004 he set the NFL record for the highest complete single season QB rating with 121.1. Nine times over the decade he went to the Pro Bowl, and four times was named NFL MVP. These impressive numbers just barely scratch the surface of Manning’s amazing accomplishments from 2000-2009.
In spite of all these accomplishments, Manning would most certainly have been relegated to the number two spot on the list if not for his Super Bowl ring. Long accused of being a choker in big games, Manning finally silenced his critics in 2007, earning Super Bowl MVP honors, and shedding King Kong from his back as he led his team to championship glory.