My Mount Rushmore of NFL QB’s
ESPN, the number one sports network had it right all along. Entertainment and Sports Network.
Since we’re on the Entertainment side, allow me to unveil my Fab Four. The men who are old school, 24/7 ’cause they know nothing else. It’s in their DNA. These guys didn’t just bring it on Any Given Sunday. They lived it.
Forget Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Joe Montana, and Johnny Unitas. Those guys have nothing on my guys. Three of my four have won the Super Bowl and are in the Hall-of-Fame.
Here they are:
Lenny Dawson, QB Kansas City Chiefs
Years before Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs Kingdom had their first offensive chief, Lenny Dawson.
Here is Lenny in the Chief’s locker room during halftime at Super Bowl I. No Gatorade and IV for this guy. Instead, Lenny enjoys a smoke and a bottle of suds. The Breakfast of Champions. The pro’s pro midpoint snack.
Down the hall, Vince Lombardi and his legendary Green Bay Packers chomping at the bit to get their paws on Dawson. Does Lenny look like a QB, much less a sucker or a perp headed for the lion’s den?
For the record, Lenny and the Chiefs got bounced that day. Sacked by the Pack, 35–10. Along the way, Lenny won 3 AFL titles, one AFL MVP, and was voted to the AFL’s All-Time Team.
Three years later, Lenny and the Chiefs reached Super Bowl IV. After ‘matriculating’ Hank Stram’s playbook over the Minnesota Vikings, Lenny earned his ring. Eventually, the Hall-of-Fame as well.
Kenny Stabler, QB Oakland Raiders
Snake, as affectionately known used to read the gameplan at the light of a jukebox. Known for his wild side and a full schedule of wine, women, and song.
Gamedays were his cooling-down period. A time to decompress from those rigorous six days of a party animal. Make no mistake. Snake slung it. Big time.
“Kenny Stabler wasn’t the best QB in NFL history but is among them. If I had one game to win, and I had my choice of any QB in the history of the NFL, I’d pick Kenny to be my QB for that one must-win game.” — John Madden
Forget stats and analytics. This is about persona and lifestyle. Snake took Head Coach John Madden’s Raiders to victory in Super Bowl XI.
An all-time favorite of fans, sportswriters, and other NFL players.
Dan Pastorini, QB Houston Oilers
Grandpa Munster might have the Dragula, but Pastorini had his own rig from hell — the Quarterback Sneak:
Dante did more than drag. He raced other cars as well. After retiring from pro football, Dan went full throttle into racing. How many NFL QB’s have more than a football card?
Dan’s not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but his flak jacket is. Known to play banged to hell. We're talking old school. I saw it myself as a kid while visiting Canton, Ohio.
It was a space-age vest made of hard plastic to protect his rib cage and organs. Dan was known to play with broken ribs and bruised kidneys. The Oilers had no choice — Dan was suiting up and taking the field. Houston needed to find a way to keep Dan alive.
Last, but not least and batting cleanup. The anchor. The original:
Joe Namath, QB New York Jets
The first. The pioneer. Broadway Joe brought pizzazz to the QB position. The first celebrity QB. The first to ‘guarantee’ victory. And he did it in the biggest city — New York, and on the biggest stage — Super Bowl III.
These days, ‘the guarantee’ by athletes is cliche. In 1969, no athlete in any pro sport had ever said that. Namath backed it up by leading the Jets to victory. Slicing and dicing the Baltimore Colts as an 18-point underdog.
Make no mistake, like his teammates on this Mt. Rushmore, Namath had talent. A rocket arm with a quick release. In his prime, Vince Lombardi, Paul Brown, and Sid Gillman all said that Namath was the best pure passer each one had ever seen. Here are some of Joe’s greatest hits between Super Bowl III and the Hall-of-Fame:
No OTAs for Broadway Joe when Hollywood came calling. C.C. and Company, an Easy Rider ripoff made Joe its leading man. His love interest? Ann Margret. Who the heck has time for practice, training camp, and the weight room?
Years later, Joe still dons the fur, the bling, and the company.
There you have it, folks. Gone, but not forgotten.