Is Eli The Best QB Ever To Only Play For One Team?

Photo: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week, one of the most accomplish quarterback to ever play the game called it a career.

 Eli Manning decided he would finish his Hall of Fame career with the same team he started it with, telling the world not only is he always a Giant, but he was only a Giant.

That got me thinking: Is Manning the greatest quarterback to only play for one team in NFL history? Through 16 total seasons played from 2004-19, as it stands right now, Manning's 117 wins are tied for 11th of all-time; his 57,023 passing yards are seventh and his 366 touchdowns are also (you guessed it) seventh all-time.

How do those numbers stack up against some of the other legendary quarterbacks who also only played for one team in their careers? 

Let's take a look.

Dan Marino

Dan Marino played for the Miami Dolphins for 17 seasons from 1983-99. Although Manning does have two Super Bowls to Marino's none, Marino beats Manning in wins (147), passing yards (61,361) and touchdowns (420). The individual accolades certainly go to Marino, but Manning does have his two world championships, which tend to matter towards a legacy.

John Elway

John Elway played for the Denver Broncos for 16 seasons from 1983-98. Elway can match Manning's two Super Bowls with two of his own. But, Manning has two Super Bowl MVPs to Elway’s' one. He was also a fan favorite with nine Pro Bowl appearances to Manning's four.

Elway, like Marino, has 30 more wins than Manning does (148 total). However, Manning has Elway beat in both passing yards (the latter tallied 51,475) and touchdowns (again 300) throughout his career.

Dan Fouts

For 15 season (1973-87), Dan Fouts was the quarterback for the then-San Diego Chargers. Fouts didn't play nearly as many games as Manning did and falls short of Manning's wins, passing yards and touchdowns. Fouts recorded 86 wins in 181 games played, 43,040 career yards and 254 total touchdowns. Fouts became the first passer in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards in three consecutive seasons and was a three-time first-team All-Pro. In his era, he was simply one of the best but that never led him to a chance to play for even one Super Bowl.

Bart Starr

From 1956-71, Bart Starr was the quarterback for one of the most historic franchises in football history: the Green Bay Packers. Starr is known for being the winning quarterback in Super Bowls I and II and winning MVP in both of those games — postseason stats that match Manning’s. Starr also had a regular-season MVP award and five NFL Championships.

The statistical numbers don't match that of Manning’s, but onsidering the era Starr played in and how successful he was when it came to championships, it's hard to argue anyone dominated more.

Philip Rivers

Now we get into some of the quarterbacks who are still playing today.

Philip Rivers is a tricky one. Since 2004, he has played his entire 16-year career with one team: the Chargers. However, it looks like the franchise could be moving on this offseason, and it doesn't appear Rivers is ready to hang it up.

As of right now, when it comes to individual stats, Rivers has Manning beat in every way. He has more wins (123), passing yards (59,271) and touchdowns (397). However, Rivers has never even made it to a Super Bowl.

These two will always be stacked up against each other after they were traded on Draft Day in 2004.

Ben Roethlisberger

Although Ben Roethlisberger isn't as intertwined as the connection between Rivers and Manning, he was drafted in that same 2004 class and has played for the Pittsburgh Steelers ever since. Roethlisberger bests Manning in wins (144) but is currently short in passing yards (56,545) and touchdowns (363). However, Roethlisberger can match Manning's two Super Bowl rings with two of his own.

Tom Brady

Where many of the players above can each have a debate for an against Manning's career being better or worse, this one isn't much of a debate. For the last 20 seasons, Tom Brady has not only played for just one team, the New England Patriots, but dominated the league. Brady is No. 1 all-time in wins (219), No. 2 all-time in passing yards (74,571) and No. 2 all-time in touchdowns (541). His six Super Bowl championships and four Super Bowl MVPs are more than any quarterback ever. Brady also has three league MVPs.

If Brady remains with the Patriots, he is the clear-cut choice as the greatest to ever play for one team and likely the greatest to ever play the position, regardless of criteria.

Written By:

Trevor Sikkema

Senior NFL Draft Analyst

Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Co-Host of the Locked On NFL Draft Podcast.

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