The NFL released their top 100 players of the year list, with Brady coming in first. Aaron Rodgers came in tenth despite missing time with an injury. It got me thinking about the parity of NFL quarterbacks, and other than the big three of the past 18 years, you can play quarterback roulette to predict a season.
The Big Three
The Big three quarterbacks of the past 18 years are Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Peyton Manning. They all had some down years or years they were injured, but you can always count on them to dominate the NFL. For MVP’s, Brady has won three, Manning has won five, and Rodgers has won two. If you are not good at math, that is ten out of 18 years, or 55% of the time since 2000, one of the big three has won an MVP. For Super Bowls, Brady has won five, Manning has two and Rodgers has one. That is eight out of 18 years, or 44% of the time since 2000, one of the big three has won a super bowl.
Other than the big three, there has been a lot of parity among NFL quarterbacks. Since 2000, there have been no two-time winners of MVP outside of the big three. A player gets hyped up after one outlier season and is never the same player after. The greatest show on turf only lasted for three years, and the Rams have not been back to the Super Bowl since. Rich Gannon won the MVP in 2002 and has not been heard from since.
Steve McNair won the award in 2003, and Shaun Alexander won it in 2005. McNair’s team, the Titans, have not been very relevant afterward. Alexander’s team, the Seahawks, were not relevant until 2013. Adrian Peterson won the award in 2013, and his career fell off after that. Cam Newton won it in 2015 and has been mediocre ever since. Matt Ryan won the award in 2016, but Steve Sarkisian did not do him any favors last year.
Other than the big three, the only repeat Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks since 2000 are Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. For Manning, he has not been good outside of those years. Roethlisberger has not been good enough to reach the promised land. Brad Johnson was the winning quarterback in super bowl 37, not to be heard from again. Drew Brees won Super Bowl 44 and has not been good enough to get back. Joe Flacco turned into Jesus for a year and won Super Bowl 47. Then, he got a huge contract and has been awful since then. Russell Wilson won Super Bowl 48, and the Seahawks have gradually fallen off every year since then.
There is a lot of parity in the NFL, and I really enjoy it. Not knowing who the elite quarterbacks are going to be for a given year is fun. You have no idea who is going to win awards, go deep into the playoffs and fall off or make a name for themselves. In the NBA, you know who is going deep in the playoffs and who will contend for awards which is quite boring.