Terry Bradshaw of the Pittsburgh Steelers (1970-83)
This lifelong Steeler was the first player chosen in the 1970 NFL Draft coming out of Louisiana Tech. Armed with one of the NFL's best throwing arms, Bradshaw led the Steelers to eight AFC Central titles and, most importantly, along with "The Steel Curtain" defense, led his team to four Super Bowl titles. Bradshaw was selected Super Bowl MVP in Super Bowls XIII and XIV. Other notable achievements by Bradshaw include his Super Bowl Records of nine touchdown passes and 932 yards. His career stats of 27,879 passing yards, 212 TD passes, 2,257 rushing yards, and 32 rushing TDs only cement his status as one of the game's great quarterbacks.
Now working as an NFL commentator for Fox Sports, Bradshaw was enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame in 1989.
PSA collectors of Bradshaw should look for his rookie card in the 1971 Topps set.
John Elway of the Denver Broncos (1983-98)
A man who could be very simply known as the king of comeback, ended his storied career in 1998 by going on top. His MVP performance in Super Bowl XXXIV capped back-to-back Super Bowls from the quarterback from Stanford and stamped his stature as one of the game's greats. Through a storied 15-year career, Elway is second in all-time total offense leaders in NFL history with 59,006 total yards, third in touchdowns with 417, and has a NFL record 40 come from behind victories in the fourth quarter for wins.
He led the Broncos to a 161-93-1 record during his career and his 234 games played as a Bronco is a team record.
Elway's rookie card can be found in the 1984 Topps set along with the rookie card of the man who is ahead of Elway in many of the above mentioned records, Miami Dolphin quarterback Dan Marino.
Bob Griese of the Miami Dolphins (1967-80)
An All-American in college for Purdue University, Griese joined the Dolphins in 1967 and, through his 13-year career, led the Fish to three AFC titles, Super Bowl VII and VII victories, and was named NFL Player of the Year in 1971. Griese was named an All-pro twice, All-AFC three times and his career stats include 25,092 yards, 192 touchdown passes, 77.1 passing rating, 994 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns.
Griese was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1990 and, like fellow NFL Counterparts, is a football commentator for ABC college games. His son Brian has continued the Griese tradition as the heir apparent to John Elway as the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos.
Topps contains Griese's rookie card in its 1968 set.
Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins (1983-1999)
After the Dolphins lost Griese in 1980, it took them only three years to find another Hall of Famer in the making. Marino was selected in the first round of the 1983 NFL draft out of Pittsburgh University. It didn't take long for Marino to make an impression, the only rookie quarterback to ever start the Pro Bowl, Marino has shattered the NFL record books in his 17-year NFL career.
Just a few of his memorable accomplishments include 420 touchdown passes, 61,361 passing yards, 4,967 pass completions, all good for first in the NFL record books. All in all, Marino has established 20 NFL records and appears to have no immediate competition ahead of him. A guaranteed Hall of Famer, the only thing eluding Marino is a Super Bowl ring, something he played for in 1985, but lost to another Hall of Fame quarterback by the name of Joe Montana.
Just like fellow quarterback great John Elway, Marino's rookie card is located in the 1984 Topps set.
Joe Montana of the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs (1979-1994)
A third-round selection by the San Francisco 49ers from Notre Dame University, Montana enjoyed a spectacular career filled with great comebacks and Super Bowl championships.
Throughout his career, Montana led his teams to 11 playoff appearances, nine divisional championships and victories in Super Bowls XVI, XIX, XXIII, and XXIV. His spectacular play in the Super Bowl games led to MVP trophies in three of the 49ers Super Bowl wins with the exception of Super Bowl XXIII. All-NFL three times, All-NFC five times, Montana was also selected to eight Pro Bowls and has career statistics of 40,551 yards, 273 touchdown passes, and 3,409 competitions with a 92.3 passing rating.
Enshrined in the Hall of Fame this year along with former 49er great Ronnie Lott, Montana will always be known as a winner and one of the NFL's greatest quarterbacks. 1981 Topps houses Montana's rookie card.
Joe Namath of the New York Jets and Los Angeles Rams (1965-1977)
"Broadway" Joe, as many would call him, came from Alabama University and will always be known for his Super Bowl "guarantee" victory in Super Bowl III. It was a guarantee that Namath backed up as he led his Jets to a stunning 16-7 upset of the Colts. Namath is also known as the first quarterback to pass for 4,000 yards in a season and, as an AFL player, threw three touchdown passes in the 1968 AFL Title Game and played in three AFL All-Star games.
Enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1985, Namath finished his career with 27,663 passing yards and 173 passing touchdowns.
Namath's oversized short printed rookie card can be found in the 1965 Topps set.
Bart Starr of the Green Bay Packers (1956-1971)
A very precise passer that also was a product of Alabama University, Starr led his respective Packer team to six division, five NFL and two Super Bowl titles. The NFL Most Valuable Player in 1966 and MVP of Super Bowls I and II, Starr was also a three-time NFL passing champion and competed in four Pro Bowls. Starr, a 17th round draft pick (200th overall), was enshrined into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1977 and finished with career passing totals of 24,718 yards, 152 touchdowns, and a 57.4 completion percentage.
In may be a while back, but Starr's rookie card is located in the 1957 Topps set, a set that features another great Hall of Fame quarterback who will be talked about later.
Roger Staubach of the Dallas Cowboys (1969-1979)
A 1963 Heisman Trophy winner from Navy, Staubach served his four-year Navy service before entering the NFL. A quarterback known for his late-game heroics, Staubach led the Cowboys to four NFC titles, Super Bowl VI and XII wins, and was a four-time NFL passing leader. Staubach was also an All-NFC selection for four years and finished his career with 22,700 passing yards, 153 touchdown passes, 20 rushing touchdowns, and an astounding 83.4 pass rating, which was a record at the time of his retirement.
Along with Joe Namath, Staubach was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1985. His rookie card can be found in the 1972 Topps set and is a tough card to find in top condition.
Fran Tarkenton of the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants (1961-1978)
Selected by the Vikings in the third round of the 1961 NFL Draft, Tarkenton's rise to fame came in his first game as he threw four touchdown passes. Playing for the Vikings, Tarkenton was traded to the Giants and then traded back to the Vikings. It was in a Viking uniform in which the quarterback had his most success has he led the Vikings to three Super Bowls.
An exciting and elusive scrambling quarterback, Tarkenton was among the best the game has seen. When he retired, Tarkenton was near the top in almost every passing category. He finished his career with 47,003 passing yards, 342 touchdowns, and 3,686 competitions. On top of his passing numbers, Tarkenton also rushed for 3,674 yards in his career and 32 touchdowns.
In 1986 Tarkenton was enshrined into the Hall of Fame, his rookie card can be found in the tough 1962 Topps set.
Johnny Unitas of the Baltimore Colts and San Diego Chargers (1956-1973)
Picked up as a free agent by the Colts in 1956, Unitas is a legend in NFL circles. An exceptional leader, Unitas lead the Colts to 1958 and 1959 NFL crowns and was named All-NFL for five seasons including three Player of the Year awards.
Unitas also picked up three MVP trophies as well as 10 Pro Bowl selections. Other accomplishments by the quarterback from Louisville include 26 games of over 300 yards passing and a 47-game streak of at least one touchdown pass per game. Overall, Unitas finished his career with 40,239 passing yards, 290 touchdown passes, and 2,830 competitions.
Unitas was enshrined into the Hall of Fame in 1979. You could find a Unitas rookie in the 1957 Topps set right along with the rookie of Bart Starr.
Brett Favre of the Atlanta Falcons Green Bay Packers (1991-???)
A rugged gunslinger who was originally drafted by the Falcons, Favre may go down as one of the toughest quarterbacks the NFL has seen. The 10-year veteran, who often plays through injuries, has passed for 3,000 yards or more for eight consecutive seasons including three 4,000 yards passing seasons in 95, 98, and 99.
He also became the third-fastest player to reach the 30,000-yard plateau, doing it in his 126th pro game. Only Dan Marino (114) and Warren Moon (125) have done it faster. Favre won MVP trophies in 1996 and 1997 and has played in two Super Bowls. His 1997 Packer team defeated the New England Patriots for the crown. Despite the Packers fall from dominance, Favre expects to be a fixture in the NFL for a couple of more years and he could make a claim as one of the game's all-time best quarterbacks.
Unlike the above mentioned quarterbacks, Favre rookie cards can be found in several 1991 releases including Action Packed Rookie Update, Pacific, Pro Set, Score, and his most popular rookie is located in the 1991 Stadium Club set with a 1992 Stadium Club high number issue carrying a bigger price tag, but no rookie card designation.
Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts (1998-???)
Son of another great quarterback Archie Manning, the younger Manning made an instant impact in his 1998 rookie season as he set Colts and NFL rookie records in competions, attempts, yards, touchdowns, and consecutive games with a TD pass (13). He followed that season up with a 4,135 passing yard and 26 touchdown pass season in 1999 as he led the Colts to a 13-3 record and a playoff appearance.
While his Colts have struggled in 2000, the future looks bright. He's only 24 and Indianapolis has a wide arrange of offensive weapons including Edgerrin James and Marvin Harrison.
His 1998 SP Authentic rookie and Leaf Rookie and Stars cards are among his most widely collected and desired rookies with a slew of other releases ranging from his Topps Chrome and Upper Deck rookies filling out his other desired cards.