Only one quarterback has won more Super Bowls in history than Pittsburgh Steelers signal caller Terry Bradshaw. But 16 quarterbacks were ranked ahead of Bradshaw on the latest Super Bowl quarterback rankings from NFL.com.
In the 2023 version of the list, NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal placed Bradshaw at No. 17 on a list of the all-time best Super Bowl quarterbacks.
“Bradshaw wasn’t great in the seasons preceding his first two Super Bowl triumphs (1975-76),” Rosenthal wrote. “But he wound up being a league MVP (in 1978) and finishing in the top five in yards per attempt five times.”
At No. 17, Bradshaw was ranked just behind Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman and one spot ahead of New York Jets signal caller Joe Namath. Interestingly, Ben Roethlisberger came in at No. 15, two spots ahead of Bradshaw.
It may go without saying, but social media, particularly members of Steelers Nation, took major exception with Bradshaw failing to not only make the Top 10 but also the Top 15 on a list of the all-time best Super Bowl quarterbacks.
Social Media Reacts to Bradshaw Finishing No. 17 Among Greatest Super Bowl QBs
This December will be the 40th anniversary of Bradshaw’s final NFL game. Yet, he remains one of only three quarterbacks who have won at least four Super Bowls.
The other two signal callers who have four at least four Super Bowls, Tom Brady and Joe Montana, occupy two of the top three spots on Rosenthal’s list. Unsurprisingly, Brady was No. 1.
But not only did Bradshaw win four Super Bowls, like Montana, he did it with a perfect 4-0 record.
Obviously, Bradshaw played for a great team, and winning championships should be considered a team achievement. In our current evaluation of quarterbacks, though, a lot of weight is put into Super Bowl wins, and that stat should hold even more importance when ranking Super Bowl quarterbacks.
Bradshaw threw for 932 yards, 9 touchdowns and 4 interceptions in his four Super Bowl starts. He won Super Bowl MVP twice following the 1978 and 1979 seasons. Brady and Montana are the only players with more Super Bowl MVP awards.
Bradshaw’s two MVP awards were a major sticking point for Steelers fans on Twitter critical of Rosenthal’s Super Bowl quarterbacks list.
Members of the media were also critical of Bradshaw’s exclusion from the top of Rosenthal’s list.
The Confusion With NFL.com’s Super Bowl QB Rankings
There’s some ambiguity, maybe purposefully, with Rosenthal’s list. While quarterbacks must have played in a Super Bowl to be eligible for the list, Rosenthal considered all achievements, not just ones from Super Bowl contests.
“I ranked all quarterbacks based on career achievements, with regular-season excellence, All-Pro/Pro Bowl appearances and seasons as top-five and top-10 players at the position carrying more weight than just Super Bowl success,” Rosenthal wrote. “(Spoiler: Jim Plunkett, winner of two Super Bowls, did not have a better career than Marino, who won none.)”
With that in mind, it’s a little more understandable that Bradshaw finished outside the Top 10. Bradshaw was better in the big games than he was in his career overall, and every single quarterback ranked ahead of him on Rosenthal’s list had tremendous careers.
Still, the way Rosenthal constructed his list was odd to some.
Bradshaw may have fallen down a bit on the all-time quarterbacks list in recent years, but clearly, he still holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Steelers fans.