With future Hall of Fame passers Tom Brady and Peyton Manning renewing their epic rivalry Sunday for the AFC title, here are my top five quarterback rivalries in NFL history.
Not every great quarterback had an obviously notable nemesis. And while some quarterbacks might be known for more multiple rivalries (e.g. Terry Bradshaw against Roger Staubach or Ken Stabler), there can be only one archenemy.
The top five quarterback rivalries ... other than Tom Brady-Peyton Manning:
5. Troy Aikman vs. Steve Young
Aikman and Young dueled in the 1993, 1994 and 1995 NFC title games. Aikman took the first two; Young won the third. The victor went on to win the Super Bowl each time.
4. Bobby Layne vs. Otto Graham
The Browns won or played for the world championship in each of Graham's 10 seasons. Layne's Lions beat them in 1952 and 1953, but Graham threw for three TDs and ran for three TDs to deny Layne's threepeat in 1954.
3. Bart Starr vs. Johnny Unitas
Starr or Unitas won eight NFL championships over a 13-year stretch. Starr's Packers claimed Super Bowls I and II. Unitas' Colts lost Super Bowl III, but won Super Bowl V. Their 12 meetings were tight, with Starr holding a 7-5 edge.
2. Jim Kelly vs. Dan Marino
Twice a year, it was a mark-your-calendar matchup between two of the three best quarterbacks from the vaunted 1983 draft class. Marino smashed aerial records, while Kelly guided the Bills to four straight Super Bowls. They also met three times in the playoffs, Kelly winning them all.
1. Terry Bradshaw vs. Roger Staubach
Bradshaw and the Steelers went to four Super Bowls over six years. Staubach and the Cowboys went to four Super Bowls in eight years. They collided in Super Bowls X and XIII, with the Steelers beating America's Team each time by four points.