I was thinking about this during the Super Bowl on Sunday evening, watching one of the Quarterbacks from the class of 2004 help drive his team to another championship. The most notable and popular Quarterback draft class talked about for what seems like forever is the 1983 class. A group that was headlined by Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, and John Elway is certainly worthy of that recognition. All 3 are Hall of Famers and each has left their mark in NFL history.
However after the Super Bowl XLVI win by Eli Manning and the Giants, I would argue that the class of 2004 is coming on strong and in someways already surpassed them. Perhaps when Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, and Philip Rivers are finished with their NFL careers, it may be the best QB class ever.
Perhaps we’re jumping the gun a bit now considering these QB’s currently playing still have many years left but that’s a big reason why I say it. All 3 just finished up their 8th years in the league and have a combined 5 Super Bowl appearances and 4 rings. It would be somewhat difficult to any of them will break Dan Marino’s passing record though, but in terms of championship wins, 2004 is already at the top. My gut tells me they probably won’t break that passing record, but you never know.
Marino played 17 seasons in the NFL, amassing 61,361 passing yds in his career. For the record, Brett Favre holds the overall lead with 71,838 but since we’re talking QB classes here we’ll go with Marino. Between the big 3 from 1983, and the big 3 from 2004,their Super Bowl records and career passing yardage are as follows:Dan Marino: 1 appearance, lost to the 49ers in XIX. 61,361 passing yds. John Elway: 5 appearances, 2 wins. XXI, XXII, XXIV, XXXII, and XXXIII. 51,475 passing yds. Jim Kelly: 4 Super Bowl appearances, 0 wins. XXV, XXVI, XXVII, and XXVIII. 35, 467 passing yds. Ben Roethlisberger: 3 appearnces, 2 wins. XL & XLIII. 26,579 passing yds. Eli Manning: 2 appearances, 2 wins. XLII & XLVI. 27.579 passing yds. Philip Rivers: 0 appearances: 24,285 passing yds.
So that’s 10 Super Bowl appearances and 2 wins with a combined 148,303 yds. for the 2003 group. For the 2004 class it’s 5 Championship games, 4 wins, with a combined 78,443 passing yds. Marino, Elway, and Kelly played a combined 44 years in the NFL. Compare that to Roethlisberger, Manning, and Rivers who have played a combined 24 years in the league so far. Nobody can predict the future but given the teams that these current Quarterbacks play for you have to think there will be a at least a few more championships added to the record books before it’s all said and done. Today’s NFL is measured in championships, it’s just how it is. Pro Bowls are good, passing records are fine, but when you leave the game people remember most how many Super Bowls you were in.
In the end, the class of 1983 will always be one of the best and in the eyes of many, the best. The modern era class of 2004 is coming on strong and the sky is the limit.