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Monday, February 21, 2005 

To Have And Have Not

While thinking about the four "modern" NFL dynasties (Pittsburgh 1970s, San Francisco 1980s, Dallas 1990s, and New England 2000s) recently, I was struck by the fact that the starting QB for each team was undefeated in the Super Bowl. On the flip side, you can find a HOF-caliber QB in each era who never won a Super Bowl, had equal or better statistics than his "perfect" peer, and who lost to that QB in either the Super Bowl or a Conference Championship game.

SB Name Career
4-0 Terry Bradshaw 1970-1983 Pittsburgh
0-3 Fran Tarkenton 1961-1978 Minn, NYG (67-71)

4-0 Joe Montana 1979-1994 SF, KC (93-94)
0-1 Dan Marino 1983-1999 Miami

3-0 Troy Aikman 1989-2000 Dallas
0-4 Jim Kelly 1986-1996 Buffalo

3-0 Tom Brady 2000- New England
0-0 Peyton Manning 1998- Indy

Obviously, Tom Brady's career is not over yet, but the combined Super Bowl record for these QBs is 14-0, including a 4-0 mark against the other QBs in this list (and 6-0 overall in the playoffs if you include Brady-Manning; their matchup is the only pairing of QBs from the same conference).

Over the next few weeks, I'll spend some time on each of these comparisons in more detail.

It is interesting to consider how each of these players would be viewed by history if they swapped places. What if Bradshaw had gone 2-2 in Super Bowls, or never won the Super Bowl MVP? What if Scott Norwood makes a field goal against the Giants and the Bills win Super Bowl XXV? Would Jim Kelly have won 2 or 3 more? A better defense might have led to more success for Marino and Manning. The possibilities are endless.

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