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Top 10 Quarterbacks Not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

TT is an online writer with over eight years of experience writing about sports and pop culture.

Pro Football Hall of Fame

Pro Football Hall of Fame

Great Quarterbacks Who Aren’t in the HOF

These guys put up nice numbers and were able to lead their teams to victory, but they have yet to be honored with a gold jacket. This article will rank the top 10 quarterbacks that are not enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Dave Krieg was one of the most underrated quarterbacks ever.

Dave Krieg was one of the most underrated quarterbacks ever.

10. Dave Krieg

  • NFL Draft: Went undrafted in the 1980 Draft
  • NFL Career: 1980-1998
  • Accolades: Three-time Pro Bowl selection

After going undrafted, Dave Krieg signed with Seattle in 1980. When starter Jim Zorn went down with an injury, Krieg stepped up to lead the team. His consistent play complemented the considerable talents of Steve Largent and Curt Warner, and he allowed the Seahawks to make the playoffs for the first time in the team's history.

When Curt Warner missed the 1984 season with an ACL injury, Krieg stepped up and threw for 3,671 yards and 32 touchdowns. He led his team to a 12-4 record and another wild card playoff appearance. Krieg spent his final seasons with five other teams before retiring in 1998. He was a three-time Pro Bowler and had one of the lengthiest careers with 19 seasons.

Why Is Dave Krieg Not in the Hall of Fame?

A few things keep Dave Krieg from hall of fame consideration. A major issue is that none of his teams ever won a championship. At the time of his retirement, he had the most lost fumbles in a career by a quarterback. He also doesn't stand out in the history of the Seahawks thanks to quarterbacks like Matt Hasselbeck and Russell Wilson.

"Dandy Don" was one of the first great players for the Dallas Cowboys.

"Dandy Don" was one of the first great players for the Dallas Cowboys.

9. Don Meredith

  • NFL Draft: 32nd pick in the 3rd round of the 1960 Draft
  • NFL Career: 1960-1968
  • Accolades: Second team All-Pro selection and three-time Pro Bowl selection

Don Meredith was one of the first players picked up by the expansion Cowboys. After spending time as a backup, he showed he deserved the starting job due to his grit and toughness. He was one of the most productive players for the team when their record was below .500.

Meredith led the Cowboys to two NFL championship games in 1966 and 1967, but they lost to Green Bay in both games; the Packers would go on to win the Super Bowl in those years. In the 1968 playoff loss to Cleveland, Meredith played with a broken rib, a punctured lung, and pneumonia. He retired after the 1968 season. He threw for over 17,000 yards and 135 touchdowns in his nine seasons in Dallas. He was a three-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro, and the 1966 NFL MVP.

Why Is Don Meredith Not in the Hall of Fame?

Meredith isn't in Canton because he played with Dallas before they were "America's Team." He only played on three winning teams with the Cowboys, and he was 0-2 in championship games. If he had played longer, he might have built up more of a resume.

Jim Hart is one of the most underappreciated quarterbacks ever to play.

Jim Hart is one of the most underappreciated quarterbacks ever to play.

8. Jim Hart

  • NFL Draft: Undrafted in 1966
  • NFL Career: 1966-1984
  • Accolades: Second team All-Pro selection and four-time Pro Bowl selection

When you think of the most prolific passers in NFL history, Jim Hart isn't exactly a name that comes to mind. However, while piloting the Cardinals through the late 60s and 70s, Hart was just that. When he retired in 1984, he was third on the all-time yardage list, trailing only Fran Tarkenton and Johnny Unitas. Hart also led the Cardinals to three straight 10-win seasons from 1974 to 1976, and he was the first quarterback to take the Cardinals to the postseason since 1948. In his 19 NFL seasons, he threw for over 34,000 yards and 209 touchdowns. Hart spent his final season in Washington before retiring in 1984. He was a four-time Pro Bowler, a 1974 All-Pro, and the 1974 NFC Offensive Player of the Year.

Why Is Jim Hart Not in the Hall of Fame?

Hart isn't in Canton because he played for the Cardinals. That organization has almost always been a middle-of-the-pack team. In Hart's 18 seasons with the Cardinals, he only threw more touchdowns than interceptions in four of them.

Bernie Kosar made Cleveland relevant in the '80s.

Bernie Kosar made Cleveland relevant in the '80s.

7. Bernie Kosar

  • NFL Draft: Picked in the 1st round of the 1985 Supplemental Draft
  • NFL Career: 1985-1996
  • Accolades: Super Bowl champion and two-time Pro Bowl selection

Bernie Kosar was a first-round pick in the 1985 Supplemental Draft. With an unorthodox sidearm throwing style that wasn’t always pretty to watch, Kosar wasn’t your typical NFL quarterback. However, for what he lacked in style, he made up for in substance. He was a hard-nosed competitor and a great team leader. He perfectly personified the workhorse style of the Browns of the 1980s.

During most of Kosar's time in Cleveland, the Browns had a balanced offensive attack, so he wasn’t expected to carry the entire offensive load. However, he did post some outstanding statistical seasons. In just his second NFL season, he passed for 3,854 yards and 17 touchdowns to lead Cleveland to a 12-4 record and their first trip to a conference championship game in 17 years. He spent nine seasons with the Browns before finally earning a Super Bowl ring as the backup quarterback for the Cowboys in 1993.

Why Is Bernie Kosar Not in the Hall of Fame?

The big reason Kosar is not in Canton is due to his team's late game collapses. If "The Drive" or "The Fumble" never happened, we'd be looking at Kosar very differently. If he was able to win over Bill Belichick, he might have spent his whole career in Cleveland.

Roman Gabriel was one of the best quarterbacks in football during the late '60s and early '70s.

Roman Gabriel was one of the best quarterbacks in football during the late '60s and early '70s.

6. Roman Gabriel

  • NFL Draft: 2nd pick in the 1st round of the 1962 Draft
  • NFL Career: 1962-1977
  • Accolades: First team All-Pro selection, two-time second team All-Pro selection, and four-time Pro Bowl selection

Roman Gabriel was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the first round in 1962. When George Allen became head coach in 1966, Gabriel was named the full-time starter, and he led the Rams to their first winning season in almost a decade. His consistency and decision-making gave the Rams a valuable offense to go along with their fierce defense. He spent his final years in Philadelphia before retiring in 1977. During his 16-year career, he was a four-time Pro Bowler, a 1969 All-Pro, the 1973 Comeback Player of the Year, and the 1969 NFL MVP.

Why is Roman Gabriel Not in the Hall of Fame?

There are two factors likely damaging Gabriel’s chances at hall of fame immortality. There is the fact that his team was never able to win a championship. There is also the issue of the explosion of quarterback statistics since Gabriel retired. When you consider the era he played in, he was as good as any quarterback in that time.

John Hadl was one of the best quarterbacks in the AFL.

John Hadl was one of the best quarterbacks in the AFL.

5. John Hadl

  • NFL Draft: 10th pick in the 1st round of the 1962 Draft (Hadl would join the AFL)
  • NFL Career: 1962-1977 (First official NFL season would be in 1970)
  • Accolades: First team All-Pro selection and six-time Pro Bowl selection

John Hadl joined the Chargers in the AFL as a third-round pick in 1962. He brought the high-octane passing game to San Diego. He shared quarterbacking duties until 1966 when he became the starting quarterback. He averaged over 3,000 yards and 23 touchdowns per season for the next four years. In 1965 and 1968, Hadl led the AFL in passing.

The passing combination of Hadl to Lance Alworth is still one of the best in league history. He holds the NFL record for the most tied games by a starting quarterback, and he is the last quarterback to wear a jersey number higher than #19. He was traded to Los Angeles in 1973 for several players. Hadl spent his final seasons in Green Bay and Houston before retiring in 1977. He was a four-time AFL All-Star, two-time All-AFL selection, two-time Pro Bowler, 1973 All-Pro, and AFL champion.

Why Is John Hadl Not in the Hall of Fame?

The problem with Hadl is that he only had six seasons where he had more touchdowns than interceptions. And his win-loss record as a starter is almost even. If he didn't have Lance Alworth as a wide receiver, he might not have been a successful quarterback at all.

If Phil Simms had played with any other franchise, he would have been more appreciated than he was.

If Phil Simms had played with any other franchise, he would have been more appreciated than he was.

4. Phil Simms

  • NFL Draft: 7th pick in the 1st round of the 1979 Draft
  • NFL Career: 1979-1993
  • Accolades: Two-time Super Bowl champion, Super Bowl MVP, and two-time Pro Bowl selection

Phil Simms gained a lot of early criticism despite playing with inferior talent on the New York Giants. By 1985, Simms grew into a Pro Bowl talent, and in the next season, he led the Giants to their first Super Bowl victory. In Super Bowl XXI, he set a game record for the highest completion percentage by going 22 of 25 for 268 yards and 3 touchdowns. Two of his three incompletions were dropped passes.

Simms became famous for being the first to use the phrase, "I'm going to Disney World!" following a championship victory. He retired after the 1993 season as a two-time Pro Bowler, one-time All-Pro, and two-time Super Bowl champion.

Why Is Phil Simms Not in the Hall of Fame?

As more people remember the Giants' defense and running game, many people don't see Simms as a hall of fame player. His touchdown to interception ratio wasn't the best for his era. He also had the misfortune of playing in the same conference as some of the greatest dynasties in history, such as the 49ers and Redskins.

Boomer Esiason was the first quarterback to execute the no-huddle offense throughout a game.

Boomer Esiason was the first quarterback to execute the no-huddle offense throughout a game.

3. Boomer Esiason

  • NFL Draft: 38th pick in the 2nd round of the 1984 Draft
  • NFL Career: 1984-1997
  • Accolades: MVP award, first team All-Pro selection, and four-time Pro Bowl selection

Boomer Esiason was brought in to be Ken Anderson's successor in Cincinnati. In his first start, he led the Bengals to a 13–3 win over Houston, and he scored the game's only touchdown on a three-yard run. At 6'5" and 224 pounds, far larger than his predecessor and with a much more powerful arm, Esiason was the signal-caller on one of the most potent offenses of the 80s.

In 1988, he was named the NFL MVP after throwing for over 3,500 yards and 28 touchdowns. He helped the Bengals make their second Super Bowl appearance. After spending time with the Jets and Cardinals, Esiason came back to Cincinnati for one final season in 1997. He was surprisingly effective after replacing Jeff Blake midway through the 1997 season. He threw for 13 touchdowns and only had 2 interceptions. He gained a passer rating of over 106 for the season. The final play of his 14-year career was a 77-yard touchdown pass. Esiason was a four-time Pro Bowler, a 1988 All-Pro, the 1988 NFL MVP, and he holds many team passing records as well as passing records by a left-handed quarterback.

Why Is Boomer Esiason Not in the Hall of Fame?

The big thing keeping Esiason out of the Pro Football Hall of Fame is his loss to San Francisco in Super Bowl XXIII. After that, his career was very forgettable as he left Cincinnati after 1992. He went on to play mediocre football for the Jets and Cardinals.

Randall Cunningham was one of the most electric running quarterbacks in league history.

Randall Cunningham was one of the most electric running quarterbacks in league history.

2. Randall Cunningham

  • NFL Draft: 37th pick in the 2nd round of the 1985 Draft
  • NFL Career: 1985-1995, 1997-2001
  • Accolades: First team All-Pro selection, two-time second team All-Pro selection, and four-time Pro Bowl selection

Randall Cunningham made a big splash in Philadelphia with his uncanny scrambling ability. When Buddy Ryan became the team's head coach, he put Cunningham in as the starter because he believed his scrambling would put the defense on its heels. His best season as a quarterback in Philadelphia came in 1988 when he threw for over 3,800 yards and 24 touchdowns. He became the first black quarterback to start in a Pro Bowl.

One of his most famous plays came in a 1990 game against the Bills, where Cunningham threw from his end zone and was about to be sacked by Bruce Smith from his blindside. He ducked and threw a 60-yard pass to wide receiver Fred Barnett for a 95-yard touchdown. In that same year, Cunningham finished with 942 rushing yards.

Cunningham spent his final years in Minnesota, Dallas, and Baltimore before retiring in 2001. He was a four-time Pro Bowler, a three-time All-Pro, and the 1992 Comeback Player of the Year.

Why Is Randall Cunningham Not in the Hall of Fame?

The main thing that has kept Cunningham out of Canton is Buddy Ryan's coaching. If Cunningham played in Philadelphia like he did in Minnesota, the Eagles would have won a couple of Super Bowls. But Ryan decided to run the ball, so Cunningham's production as a passer is often overlooked.

Ken Anderson is generally considered to be the best QB that is not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Ken Anderson is generally considered to be the best QB that is not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

1. Ken Anderson

  • NFL Draft: 67th pick in the 3rd round of the 1971 Draft
  • NFL Career: 1971-1986
  • Accolades: MVP award, first team All-Pro selection, second team All-Pro selection, four-time Pro Bowl selection

After being drafted in 1971 by the Cincinnati Bengals, Ken Anderson was named the starting quarterback in his second year.

He became the first quarterback to implement Bill Walsh's west coast offense and have success with it. He was praised for being one of the most consistent quarterbacks to come out of the 70s and 80s. Anderson set the bar for completion percentage in the decades he played, as well as being underrated for his play. He finished his career with four Pro Bowl selections. He had two seasons leading the league in passing and was awarded the MVP award in 1981.

Why Is Ken Anderson Not in the Hall of Fame?

The big glare on his career was the Super Bowl loss to San Francisco in the 1981 season. Although he played well, he never did enough to get past the other teams in the division, like Pittsburgh and Houston.

Anderson's stats make him worthy to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His touchdown to interception ratio alone is better than a lot of quarterbacks that are already in Canton.

Questions & Answers

Question: Did you forget to put Jim Plunkett on your list of top 10 quarterbacks?

Answer: No. Jim Plunkett’s story is something out of a movie and he has his place in history, but he’s not a Hall of Fame quarterback. Never made a Pro Bowl or All-Pro team, and everything pre -raiders tenure is very bad. He had some great moments in the Silver and Black, but that won’t be enough to put him in the Hall.

Question: Why not include Mark Brunell on this list of the greatest quarterbacks not in the pro-football hall of fame?

Answer: Of his 19 seasons, he was a starter for just 8 of them. He had some great years in Jacksonville, but he’s hurt because of the market he played in and that the Jaguars came up short in those AFC Championship Games.

Question: Why is John Brodie not on this list of top quarterbacks not in the Hall of Fame?

Answer: Brodie is hurt because it took him 8 years to have a good season. He only made two Pro Bowls in a 17-year career and has more interceptions than touchdowns

Question: Why did you place Dave Krieg over Ken “The Snake” Stabler in your top 10 quarterbacks who aren't in the hall of fame?

Answer: Ken Stabler was recently inducted into that Hall of Fame. I removed Stabler from the list once he was inducted and added Krieg

Comments

ughg on July 07, 2020:

Ken Anderson got straight up dissed by the HOF! Great list!

Troy Taylor (author) from Anywhere on July 06, 2020:

Conerly made just two pro bowls and one all-pro team in a 14 year career. Those Giants teams were built for defense and Frank Gifford is the one who stands out on those offenses.

James Taylor on July 05, 2020:

It’s a travesty that Charley Conerly isn’t in the Hall of Fame. How he isn’t on this is just comical!!!!

Kevin Goodwin on August 14, 2015:

Ken Stabler belongs in the Hall of fame without a doubt.

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on May 14, 2015:

A lot of great QBs here. You know that if you just look at stats, Dave Krieg is of note.