We love some and hate others. They are who we dreamt of being as young children (or ill-adjusted adults) or cussed on countless Sundays. We wear their jerseys and emulated them in the backyard. They are typically the highest paid, realize the greatest fame and always have an attractive woman on their arm. They contribute the most to wins and losses, and often execute a franchise’s most memorable plays. Not surprisingly then, they also spark historic debates and comprise the most compelling countdowns. They are … the quarterbacks.
Fair or not, it is what it is. You wouldn’t have clicked on the link to this piece, and you certainly wouldn’t be reading paragraph two if the title was “The Top 5 Guards In Washington Redskins History” — even if you knew that list would include Mark “Stink” Schlereth and Hall-of-Famer Russ Grimm. Today’s NFL is unquestionably dominated by quarterbacks; but the game’s always been about the men behind center. Ask any casual sports fan to name 10 famous NFL players, and 7.58 of the responses will be quarterbacks. Trust me on that metric; I’m a football scientist of the highest integrity. I would never just make something up to illustrate a point.
Anyway … so who are the best five signal-callers to grace the gridiron in Washington? There were over 80 years of franchise history, three distinct winning eras and five championships — two NFL and three Super Bowls — to comb through. That makes it sound more complicated and dramatic than it really was. The truth is, seven candidates quickly separated themselves, but picking and ranking the final five was challenging. I lost sleep; my head’s been pounding for days. I challenged the significant limits of Excel with statistical analysis. And too much beer has been consumed in search of clarity. Eventually, the list emerged, and it is now time to share it with the world (in case you missed it, that was verbiage drum roll).