If you're a fan of the NFL, then you know that a lot of quarterbacks have made the number 12 pretty famous. Some of the all-time greats wore #12 in the past, and a few of the current (and future) greats also wear it.
Quarterbacks aren't the only ones who have worn #12 proudly and accomplished great things. Roberto Alomar and Wade Boggs put together Hall of Fame caliber baseball careers with 12 on their back. John Stockton did the same in the NBA, and Dwight Howard continues to do so. If the NHL ever comes back, Jarome Iginla will continue his stellar career with #12 on his sweater, and Hall of Famer Dickie Moore wore it in the 50s and 60s. Even legendary NASCAR driver Bobby Allison rode in the #12 car.
But when you think of #12, you think of quarterbacks. So who are the best quarterbacks ever to don the number 12? Obviously it's up for debate, but here's one man's list:
12. Andrew Luck
Is it a little premature to put him on this list? Maybe, maybe not. But it's safe to say that barring some sort of catastrophe, this guy is going to shoot up this list in the next decade or so. He has already shown incredible skills in less than one full NFL season, and has made the Colts respectable again, only one year after going 1-15 and drafting Luck with the top overall pick.
John Brodie wore #12 for the 49ers from 1957 to 1973. He led the NFL in passing yards three times and twice led the league in passing TDs. He could move around a little bit too, and had 22 rushing TDs in his career, along with 5 yards per rushing attempt. Sure, he's not Young or Montana, but the 49ers weren't exactly a disaster when he was at the helm.
Most know him as the first African-American quarterback to start for a Super Bowl winner. But before he did that while wearing #17 for the Redskins, he wore #12 for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 5 seasons. He had a few solid years, but certainly nothing that will compare to winning the Super Bowl for the Redskins.
You might be surprised to see a Hall of Famer so low on the list, but the fact is that Namath probably doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame based on his performance alone. Also, there are quite a few other Hall of Famers (present and future) coming up later in this list. In reality, Namath's greatest achievement was accurately guaranteed that his New York Jets would beat the Colts in Super Bowl III. His most prolific statistic was his interceptions, which led the league four times. He went on to finish his career with 173 TD against 220 INT. But his brash mouth still got him a place in Canton.
Check out page 2 to see more great QBs who wore the number 12.
A member of the perfect 1972 Miami Dolphins, Griese is another Hall of Famer. He helped get the Dolphins to 3 consecutive Super Bowls, and they won two of them. That having been said, the offense was rather run-heavy, thanks to powerful running back and fellow Hall of Famer Larry Csonka. Griese was an 8-time Pro Bowler, and a 2-time first-team All-Pro quarterback.
Cunningham was Michael Vick before Michael Vick. He was a pretty decent passer, but the real threat was when he got out of the pocket and ran with the ball. His best season was 1990, when he passed for 30 TD and only 13, while also running for 942 yards and 5 more TD. Later, with the Vikings, he took advantage of the services of a young Randy Moss (and a not-so-young Cris Carter) and threw for 34 TD in 1998, on the way to his 4th Pro Bowl appearance.
"The Snake" won the 1974 NFL MVP, and also led the Raiders to victory in Super Bowl XI. He led the league in passing TDs twice, and his 103.4 passer rating led the league in 1976, back when only 2 QBs finished with a rating over 90. Stabler had some rough years late in his career, particularly after he left the Raiders, but there was a time when he was one of the best in the business, and as clutch as they come.
Stabuach is another Hall of Famer, and another multiple Super Bowl winner. He went to 6 Pro Bowls, won a Super Bowl MVP, and was one of the most efficient passers of his day. He didn't put up video game numbers like the players we see today, but he led the league in passer rating 4 times, including his final two seasons in the league.
Continue to page 3 to see the four greatest QBs ever to wear the number 12.
Before he was "that idiot on TV every Sunday," Terry Bradshaw was "that idiot who won a bunch of Super Bowls with the Steelers." His numbers weren't all that great, and some might even say he was a bit overrated, but Bradshaw was fortunate enough to be on some Steelers teams that were absolutely stacked, and that got him some serious hardware. He and Joe Montana are the only players ever to start at QB in 4 Super Bowls and win them all. He struggled with interceptions early in his career, but developed into a damn good QB and field leader, and went on to be one of the most successful quarterbacks of all time.
Yes, he's still young. Yes, he is only in his 5th full season as a starting QB in the NFL. But anyone who is paying attention can tell you that Rodgers' first four seasons are as good as any 4 seasons that any QB has ever had, and his 5th one is shaping up to be more of the same. Rodgers' career is still very young, but he already has a Super Bowl win (and a Super Bowl MVP) under his belt along with a regular season MVP, and it wouldn't be surprising at all if he picked up a few more along the way. He's the all-time leader in passer rating, and leads all active QBs in yards per pass attempt, completion percentage, passing TD percentage, and interception percentage. Since he took over the Packers in 2008, there has been no one better.
Many people know Jim Kelly as the hard-luck loser of 4 consecutive Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills. While that is certainly true, it's a bit unfair for a guy who was a remarkably good passer for a solid decade in the NFL. It might be a bit depressing that he lost 4 straight Super Bowls, but there are hundreds of other quarterbacks who would have loved the chance to play in a single Super Bowl, never mind 4 in a row. Kelly was a huge reason the Bills continued to dominate the AFC, and was an elite passer for a decade in the NFL. If anything, he's a bit underrated now, thanks to the ignominious honor of being the most prolific Super Bowl loser in NFL history.
He's certainly the greatest ever to wear the number 12, but it's moving beyond that at this point. Tom Brady is making a hell of a case as the greatest quarterback ever to play the game. In 2010, he was the first person to be unanimously voted the NFL MVP by the AP voters. In all fairness, it should have been his 2nd unanimous MVP, but one voter inexplicably voted for Brett Favre in 2007, when Brady turned in arguably the greatest season ever for a QB. Brady's career TD-INT ratio of 329-119 is incomparable among QBs with over 5 years experience, and he has developed from a 6th round pick into the greatest in the game. Without a doubt, Tom Brady is not only the greatest quarterback ever to wear the number 12, he's the greatest athlete ever to wear it.
In fact, 12-12-12 should hereafter be called "Tom Brady Day." Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise.
Feel free to pick apart my list in the comments section below, if you disagree with some of the rankings or think I omitted someone. All feedback is encouraged.