Elway not Stanford’s greatest quarterback?
How good is Stanford’s quarterback legacy? John Elway, who some consider the greatest quarterback in NFL history, isn’t the best in Stanford history. In 1994, the San Francisco Chronicle produced a list of the 10 best Stanford QBs ever. Elway wasn’t No. 1. Or No. 2.
Wow. For more than a decade, I’ve considered Elway the greatest NFL quarterback ever, and I saw him play on a rainy Owen Field as a sophomore, and he was just as transcendent as a collegian as he was as a pro. All the talk about greatest college quarterback ever, from Sammy Baugh to Doug Flutie to Tommie Frazier to Tim Tebow debates, well, none of them that I saw ever played like Elway did that September day in Norman. Total domination of a football game, by one player. One relatively young, inexperienced football player.
Anyway, if Elway isn’t the best QB in Stanford history, Stanford’s got an unparalleled quarterback history. Which it does. The Chronicle’s 2004 list, which shouldn’t be outdated, since only Trent Edwards could be viewed as a contender to make the list, and he probably deserves only honorable mention:
1. Jim Plunkett (1968-70): Bay Area’s only Heisman Trophy winner.
2. Frankie Albert (1939-41): Pioneer of the T-formation revolution.
3. John Elway (1980-82): Strange but true; Stanford was 15-18 with Elway at QB.
4. John Brodie (1954-56): Long-time 49er quarterback was consensus all-American QB in ’56, when Notre Dame quarterback Paul Hornung won the Heisman.
5. Bobby Garrett (1951-53): Won the Voit Trophy as top player on the Pacific coast.
6. Don Bunce (1969-71): Plunkett’s successor led Rose Bowl upset of Michigan.
7. Mike Boryla (1971-73): Almost took Stanford to a third Rose Bowl in four years.
8. Steve Stenstrom (1991-94): Four-year starter.
9. Gary Kerkorian (1949-51): Led the only Stanford bowl team between Frankie Albert and Jim Plunkett.
10. Steve Dils (1977-78): Started only one year, but it was a doozy, under coach Bill Walsh.
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