In American football, there is no position more important than the quarterback. Ever since the inception of the NFL, it is evident that QB carries more influence than any other player on the pitch. That is why the majority of MVP awards have been received by quarterbacks. The job of an ideal quarterback is to find space for his teammates and pass the ball accurately. But it is not as simple as it looks when there is a cluster of 250-pounders running right at you with the sole intention of taking you down.
The performance of a franchise is directly dependent upon the quality of its quarterback. That is why the demand for young QBs is high at every draft combine. Over the years, players like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have made a name for themselves as one of the greatest players to ever grace the game because they were able to cope up with the pressure of the league and deliver match-winning performances at almost every crucial juncture.
However, almost all of the most celebrated field generals in history have been right-handers. Left-handed quarterbacks have always come few and far between. In fact, Tua Tagovailoa, the Miami Dolphins QB, is the only left-hander in the last five years of the league. Keeping that in mind, we take a look at some of the best left-handed quarterbacks in NFL history.
#10. Tim Tebow
As far as one-season wonders are concerned, Tim Tebow probably ranks on the top of that list. The 2010-11 season was where Tebow came into his own and torched every opposition he faced. In fact, #tebowtime had started trending every time he took to the field. The 2007 Heismann trophy winner was quick on his feet and had a rocket arm. Because of the fact that he threw with his left arm, the trajectory of the ball was different and it was hard for the defenders to adapt.
However, once the other teams figured him out, Tebow did little to change his game. He continued with the current style and eventually lost that shock factor. That is why the Denver Broncos decided to trade him after that season itself. He was traded to the New York Jets in 2012 where he started only two games. However, he did not feature as a quarterback in both those games.
After that Tim Tebow was not seen with any other franchise in the league. He was recently seen at one of the New York Mets’ tryouts. Maybe he wants to give his rocket arm one more go before hanging his boots for good.
#9. Scott Mitchell
The NFL fanatics of now might not remember the name of Scott Mitchell purely because the prime of his career was lost under Dan Marino’s shadow. He was used by the Dolphins as a backup quarterback and only featured on rare occasions. Many analysts speculate that he could have been considered one of the top QBs if he played for any other franchise.
Eventually, Mitchell left the Dolphins in search of greener pastures. In 1994, he was bought by the Detroit Lions and the graph of his career picked up from there. The brilliance of Scott Mitchell was finally coming to the fore. Full of evasive maneuvers and a perfect throwing arm, Mitchell started torching the league with his accurate throws and ideal temperament.
The 1995-96 season was the best Scott Mitchell had ever played in his life. In fact, it was later revealed that he was missed the MVP award by the skin of his teeth. During the course of that season, he threw for 4338 yards and recorded an astonishing 32 touchdown passes to his name. Mitchell might not be remembered by many, but there is no doubt about the fact that he played an instrumental role in shaping the Lions’ golden era.
#8. Bobby Douglass
Bobby Douglass is one of the oldest additions on our list. However, he is undoubtedly one of the players who changed the game with his arrival on the scene. Douglass was a player who could take defenses apart all on his own. In an era where the league was much more physical than it is now, he was a player who used to evade pass rushers and find his teammates with astonishing ease.
Apart from the obvious traits, Douglass also had a quality that is seldom seen on the professional level; the QB rush. When the opportunity of finding a teammate was lost, he took it upon himself to cover up yards and get his team into a favorable position for the next play. The 1972 season is where Bobby Douglass showed his adeptness and mastery of this rare skill. He rushed for 968 yards during the course of that season and was one of the hardest threats to stifle in the league.
In a 1973 game against the Green Bay Packers, Douglass recorded an even more fascinating stat. In that game, he rushed for four touchdowns. Yes, you heard that right. Four touchdowns from a quarterback. If that is not proof of just how menacing he was in his prime, then nothing will ever do so.
#7. Frankie Albert
Apart from NFL historians, there are probably only a handful of people who remember the playing days of Frankie Albert. However, that doesn’t take anything away from what he has achieved in the league during an era where quarterbacks were getting sacked at a much higher rate.
Having played for only six seasons, many analysts are of the opinion that Albert would have been able to receive a boatload of personal accolades had he played a bit longer. But what he achieved with the san Francisco 49ers during the course of those six seasons is also a lot by today’s standards. Frankie Albert was known as one of the original innovators of the game who introduced a new style of play.
1948 was Albert’s best season ever recorded. That year he was relentless and simply unstoppable. In that era, left-handed quarterbacks were a rare commodity and Albert used this to good effect. In fact, he led the AAFC twice in touchdown passes and was a menace for the Cleveland Browns, the most complete team of that time.
Statistics weren’t that big of a deal back then, that is why there isn’t much information about him in numbers. However, one fact that is known that Douglass had a passer rating of 102.9 in the 1948 season, which is the same as that of Joe Montana during the iconic 1984 season. Now that is legendary.
#6. Jim Zorn
Jim Zorn is touted as the player who ushered in a new era in terms of the Seattle Seahawks functioned as a franchise. Before him, the Seahawks were just a franchise that did not have enough quality to compete with the bigger outfits and were comfortable on the sidelines. However, his arrival changed the game. He brought with him a sense of urgency and determination that ultimately led the Seahawks to become a force to reckon with.
Everybody in the league knew about the kind of impact a strong quarterback can have. However, this was the first time that anybody saw that saying come to life. It was almost as if Jim Zorn breathed life into the functioning of the team and they suddenly became contenders for the title.
Although his stay at the franchise lasted for only eight years, Zorn had done his job. The Seattle Seahawks were now a team that could defeat any team on their day. That is the reason why the Hawks faithful remember him as one of the greatest legends of all time.
#5. Mark Brunell
When your career spans 17 years at the highest professional level, you know that you must have been head and shoulders above the rest. That is exactly who Mark Brunell was a player. The epitome of dedication and tenacity, Brunell was a player who could lead by example. His longest stint came with the Jacksonville Jaguars as he transformed them into one of the fiercely competitive teams in the league.
Apart from his influence on and off the field, Mark Brunell was a pretty special player as well. In fact, when some of his opponents were interviewed, they admitted to being wary of his threat as an excellent passer who was athletically gifted. Brunell could take opposition defenses apart with his accurate throws and brilliant change of pace.
Mark Brunell won his only Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints back in 2009, playing as the QB2 behind the legendary Drew Brees. Even then, he was quite impactful and provided match-winning performances at crucial junctures. He recorded a healthy stat of 184 passing touchdowns during his prolific career.
#4. Michael Vick
Easily one of the most entertaining players to ever grace the game, Michael Vick’s career has been full of ups and downs. When he first came to play for the Atlanta Falcons as a rookie, he rose quickly to become one of the most gifted quarterbacks in the entire league. The opposition defenses were terrified of his presence and tried every play in the book to stifle his threat.
Vick is touted by many as the player who took Bobby Douglass’ legacy forward as a more dynamic quarterback. In fact, he was the first player who broke the 1000-yard barrier as a quarterback. Over his storied career, Michael Vick recorded 6109 rushing yards and is considered as one of the most animated players on the field.
However, he was entangled in an illegal dog-fighting ring fiasco which changed the course of his career. The player who was showing promise of becoming one of the greatest QBs after the likes of Brady and Manning was suddenly pushed towards being a fringe player. That is when the Falcons decided to cut ties with him. After three long seasons without any professional action, Michael Vick was finally signed by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009. It is safe to say that since the return to NFL, his career graph has not been the same as before.
#3. Boomer Esiason
Esiason is one of the rare breed of players who started and finished their careers with the same franchise. A prolific passer ever since his college days, Boomer Esiason was a player who was strongly competitive and never backed down from a challenge. Arguably one of the greatest Bengals legend in history, he was one of the players who was invaluable at the time this franchise was beginning its golden era.
In fact, Boomer Esiason led the Cincinnati Bengals to their second Super Bowl appearance in 1989 where they face the iconic San Francisco 49ers. In that game, Jerry Rice and Joe Montana stitched together an incredible comeback in the final minutes of the game to snatch the victory from Esiason and the Bengals.
Nevertheless, Boomer Esiason will always be regarded as one of the greatest left-handed quarterbacks in the history of the league. His regular-season MVP win in 1988 will be yet another factor that should be considered while measuring his greatness and contribution to the game.
#2. Ken Stabler
While his numbers might not be as good as some of the quarterbacks on our list, but there is a reason Ken Stabler deserves the 2nd spot. That is the sheer impact he had on the Oakland Raiders and the league as a whole. The fact that “Snake” was on the field became a worrying sign for the opposition because of his leadership qualities and exceptional game awareness. Every time his team was in a spot of bother, Stabler produced a moment of magic to rescue his side.
Ken Stabler was part of some of the most iconic games of that era like the Immaculate Reception, Sea of Hands, and the Ghost to the Post. Apart from the positive impact he had on the team, Stabler was quite a prolific quarterback in his own right. In fact, he won the regular-season MVP award in 1974 and also led the Raiders to their maiden Super Bowl victory in 1977.
There is no denying the fact that Stabler is one of the legendary left-handed quarterbacks in the history of the NFL, and his induction into the pro football Hall of Fame should be indication enough.
#1. Steve Young
One of the biggest mistakes in the history of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise was to let go of a youthful Steve Young. However, that trade from the Bucs to the 49ers did not hinder him from becoming one of the greatest quarterbacks in the game. Steve Young is as iconic a character as you’ll ever see. Each and every one of his movements on the field oozed quality and class.
Steve Young was so brilliantly different as a quarterback, and the fact that he was a left-hander might have played a part in that. That Midas touch of his led the 49ers to a Super Bowl victory against the San Diego Chargers in 1994. Moreover, he also won a lot of personal accolades, not the least of which are the two MVP awards he received in 1992 and 1994.
The 49ers faithful remember Steve Young as the player who thrived under the tutelage of Joe Montana and ended up succeeding him. He will always be known as one of the epochal QBs in the game and certainly as the greatest left-handed quarterback of all time.
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