John Elway is NOT one of the Greatest Quarterbacks Ever
Debate Rounds (4)
1) Round 1 is introduction only. No arguments.
2) Other than round 1, there is no specific structure. You can put rebuttals in 2nd round, 3rd round, I don't care.
3) When I mean " NOT one of the greatest", I mean he isn't in top TEN best quarterbacks ever. Not 5, not 15, not 25, but top 10.
Since the Broncos are good now, there should be some fans out there to defend Elway. I wish my opponent good luck!
I'm a Panthers fan, but I love football and this is a very interesting debate topic. Good luck to us both!
When we look at Elway's career, his final total of 300 touchdowns and 51475 are among the best ever. But I will argue Elway is more of a compiler. For one thing, Elway absolutely fails the "black ink" test. This test basically shows how many times a player leads the league in a major category. The only time Elway lead the league in yards, touchdowns or completion percentage was yards in 1993. That's it. He also took a league high 551 attempts that season so it come out to an unremarkable 7.3 yards per attempt. Furthermore, that was the only season in which Elway surpassed 4000 yards. Fact was, Elway didn't have any great seasons. Instead, he had a bunch of average ones.
My argument is in three separate parts:
1) Elway's first half
2) Elway's second half
3) Elway's championships
Along the way, I will compare Elway to other various quarterbacks to determine exactly how impressive Elway really was.
1) Elway's career could be separated into two different parts. The first part was from 1983 to 1992. The second was from 1993 to 1998. In the beginning of his career, Elway was an average quarterback at best. Elway threw 158 touchdowns and 157 interceptions in 144 games. Only one more touchdown than interception? He had 30216 passing yards at 209.8 yards per game. His passer rating was only 73.8. Passer rating is a stat that combines touchdowns, interception, yards and completetion percentage. While it is true that Elway's league was harder on passing offense than today, Elway was still just an average passer. Rate+ is a stat developed by Pro football reference.com that measures a player's passer rating to the league's. 100 Rate+ is average. From 1983 to 1992, the highest Rate+ Elway got was 112 in 1987. Elway actually finished with a Rate+ of below 100 6 times as compared to above it 4 times. Let me repeat that, SIX times Elway was below an average passer. Between the five seasons of 1988 to 1992, Elway was a below average passer 4 times. That's incredible. In 1988, Elway had 17 TD, but 19 picks. In 1989, he had 18 TD and 18 picks. That doesn't sound like a Hall of Famer, that sounds like Mark Sanchez! (Okay, maybe a little too harsh) After rebounding with OK seasons in 1990 and 1991, Elway had a terrible year in 1992. Playing in 10 games, he had only 10 TD, but 17 interceptions. He passed for just 186.8 yards per game and had a pathetic 65.7 passer rating. Now THAT is WORSE than Sanchez. Fact is, Elway was an average quarterback in his first half.
Year, TD, INT, Passer Rating, Rate+
1988, 17, 19, 71.4, 96
1989, 18, 18, 73.7, 98
1990, 15, 14, 78.5, 103
1991, 13,12, 75.4, 99
1992, 10, 17, 65.7, 86
2) Now to Elway's credit, the rest of his career was quite good. His Rate+ never dropped below 110 and reached a high of 121 in 1993. But Elway wasn't a GREAT quarterback, he was a good one. For example, let's take a look at Tony Romo. Romo never had a Rate+ of below 100. His high was 123 in 2011.
Season# Romo (2006-2011) vs. Elway (1993-1998)
1, 119 to 121
2, 121 to 110
3, 110 to 112
4, 117 to 117
5, 112 to 113
6, 123 to 119
The fact is, even in Elway's best seasons, Tony Romo is comparable. So we come to two conclusions:
A) Romo is one hell of a quarterback
B) John Elway is not a top quarterback
I do think Romo is a darn good QB. But he sure isn't GREAT. And neither is Elway.
Let's compare Elway to a contemporary quarterback, Boomer Esiason on a per game basis.
Elway- 234 games, 1.28 touchdowns/G, 220Yards/G, 0.97INT/G, 56.9 completion %, 79.9 passer rating
Esiason- 187 games, 1.32 touchdowns/G, 202.8Yards/G, 0.98Int/G, 57 completion %, 81.1 passer rating
Esiason is very comparable to Elway. Boomer is not in the Hall of Fame, and he was never seriously considered. That doesn't bode well for Elway. If he can't even beat Esiason, how is he better than Tom Brady, Joe Montana and Peyton Manning?
3) Elway won the Super Bowl twice and made it to the big game 5 times. That is incredible. Most people consider championships as THE most important stat. However, I disagree. Winning is a team effort. It take a whole team to win a chamipionship. Obviously, some players contribute to the team. But how can we determine how MUCH a player contributes? Easy, with stats. I have proven that Elway was barely an average passer. How did he manage to lead the Broncos to three Super Bowls in his first half? Mopre like it was the rest of the team. And plus, when Elway won the Super Bowl in 1998, Terrell Davis led the league with 2008 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns. Denver was a run first team. Elway carried his team? More like he was there just for the ride.
Before I begin rebutting my opponent, I will establish my own arguments:
John Elway was a winner
Over his impressive career, John Elway recorded a record of 148-82-1 (.643 win percentage). Out of his 16 seasons, Elway only had two losing seasons (1983 and 1990) and two .500 seasons (1994 and 1995). Elway's Broncos won seven division titles and made the playoffs ten times, winning five conference championships and two Super Bowl championships. Elway had a playoff record of 14-8 (.636), which when extrapolated is virtually identical to his regular season record.
In addition to his impressive career record, Elway ranks among the most clutch quarterbacks in history. His 35 fourth-quarter comebacks and 46 game-winning drives rank third in NFL history, behind only Dan Marino and Peyton Manning. Among Elway's most famous comebacks are "The Drive", when he led his team 98 yards down the field for a game-tying touchdown in the 1986 AFC Championship Game, and Super Bowl XXXII, where he led his team to a game-winning drive in the last few minutes of the game.
Contrary to my opponent's belief, Elway's stats are among the most impressive in league history. Elway ranks in the top ten in league history in completions, pass attempts, passing yards, passing touchdowns and total offense. Elway also ranks highly in other categories, ranking 12th all-time in rushing touchdowns by a quarterback and 6th in rushing yards by a quarterback. Although my opponent states Elway was a mediocre quarterback through most of his career, he finished in the top ten in completions ten times, the top ten in attempts eleven times, the top ten in passing yards eleven times, the top ten in passing touchdowns eight times and the top ten in total offense eleven times. Among categories my opponent notes as weaknesses, Elway finished in the top ten in passer rating five times, the top ten in passing yards per game nine times, the top ten in yards per attempt nine times, and the top ten in yards per completion eight times. In comparison, Elway only finished in the top ten in interceptions five times and the top ten in sacks five times.
Simply put, Elway was consistently excellent in comparison to his contemporaries, as evidenced by his nine Pro Bowls. Although he did have a few off seasons, they weren't actually that bad. Take the 10 touchdown, 17 INT season my opponent notes. His team was actually 8-4 in games he played as compared to just 0-4 without him.
Finally, since my opponent is using Pro Football Reference Rate+ as his stat for passer rating (an utterly worthless stat if you ask me), I will note that their Approximate Value stat - which is used to rank each player by their career value - John Elway is ranked tenth - the fourth-highest QB on the list. This metric is obviously much more relevant to this debate.
Now, on to rebuttals:
My opponent's main argument is that, for a decent period in his early career, Elway was not statistically amazing. There are several problems with this argument: for one, he's comparing quarterbacks playing in a less pass-happy era solely on statistics. To start, during this supposed 'bad part' of Elway's career (1983-1992), he made the Pro Bowl four times and won one MVP award and the Broncos made the playoffs six times, recorded five division titles, and won three conference championships. Hardly an average record, it's actually very impressive for a young quarterback on a historically bad team.
Secondly, my opponent targets individual seasons as poor. This logic is flawed - where 18 TDs and 18 INTs may not be impressive today, it was enough for Elway to make a Pro Bowl in 1989 and for the Broncos to win their division and conference. Over the five year period of 1988 to 1992 my opponent notes as the career low, Elway had a record of 43-31 (.581 win percentage). In fact, Elway only had one losing season over this period - the 5-11 1990 season, where the Broncos had one of the worst defenses in the league, as compared to four winning seasons, two playoff appearances and two Pro Bowls. Not too shabby for a supposed downpoint in a career.
My opponent also argues Elway's late stages of his career, undoubtedly his best, were actually not that great. He compares Tony Romo's stats to this period, which is flawed logic because Romo plays in a much more pass-happy era. More interestingly he compares Elway to Boomer Esiason, a contemporary of Elway who had similar stats. The problem with this is that Esiason had a career record of 80-93 (.462 win percentage), with only three winning seasons to his credit and just two playoff appearances - well below Elway's mark. As compared to contemporaries, Elway was able to deliver superior results.
Finally, my opponent argues Elway's championships aren't important due to stats. If my opponent wants to purely argue on stats, I've established Elway's career stats are in the top ten in most major categories but to argue championships simply aren't relevant on an individual basis is irrelevant. The Broncos made the playoffs ten times under Elway - that's as many times as they have made the playoffs in the entire rest of their history. They won 7 of their 13 division titles, 5 of their 7 conference championships and both of their Super Bowls under him. Coincidence? I think not.
Now my opponent listed the amounts of times Elway finished among the league leaders. I have never understood why or how it is impressive to lead your league in attempts. Matthew Stafford took a record 737 attempts in 2012. I don't see anyone saying that is a positive. In reality, TD, Yards, Passer rating, completion % and INT are the important ones. However, back in Elway's time there were only 28 teams. It follows that it is easier to finish among the top 10. Finishing in the top ten does not make you a Great quarterback; it is evidence that you merely a good one. Let's look at Ben Roethlisberger and once again Tony Romo is 2013.
Big Ben: 9th in yards, 7th in TD, 9th in passer rating, 7th in completion %, 9th in interceptions
Romo: 12th in yards, 5th in TD, 8th in passer rating, 9th in completion %
Both Romo and Roethlisberger's stats are ranked among the top ten, but except for Romo's touchdowns, not in the top 5. Both Romo and Roethlisberger are considered "good" quarterback, but not great ones. That makes sense, there can't be ten elite quarterbacks in a 32 team league. While a consistently good quarterback for a long period of time can certainly build a relatively strong case for the Hall of Fame, it does not mean that quarterback is one of the greatest of all time. To be that, the quarterback needs to be elite.
Comparing Elway to Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady (Amount of times finished in the top 5)
Stat, Elway, P.Manning, Brees, Brady
Yards: 5, 10, 7, 5
TD: 3, 15, 9, 7
Completion %: 2, 12, 6, 5
Passer Rating: 4, 11, 5, 4
INT: 2, 3, 3, 0
Fact is Elway doesn't even come close. Sure finishing so many times in the top 10 is impressive as my opponent notes, but remember these are the GREATEST ever we are talking about. Elway doesn't make the cut. Now, let's compare Elway to Philip Rivers. Rivers finished among the top 5 in yards three times, touchdowns 4 times, passer rating 4 times, % 2 times and interceptions only once. And Rivers has only played 8 seasons as a starter compared to 16 for Elway. Already his top 5 number are comparable to Elway's.
My opponent also consistently notes that my logic is flawed when I compare current day quarterbacks to Elway based solely on stats because Elway was better compared to his league. Unfortunately he is wrong. I made adjustments when using stats. Rate+ is a prime example of this. There is no excuse for Elway's Rate+ to be so low in his earlier seasons. So those Pro Bowls? Shouldn't have ever happened. And Pro Bowls are flawed. Example: LaDaninan Tonlinson in 2003 had 1645 yards rushing, 100 receptions and 735 receiving yards. He was not selected to the Pro Bowl. Not just that, Elway's 79.9 passer rating is not impressive. Dan Fouts retired ten years before Elway and finished with a rating of 80.2; Joe Monatan 92.3; and Steve Young 96.8. All played before or at the same time as Elway.
To begin his rebuttals, my opponent has made some confusing statements: he rejects the idea that career stats are relevant, but is using season stats to advance his arguments. This makes no sense - how is one season more representative of Elway's body of work than his entire career? He also rejects the idea that team record is important, which is bizarre because stats do not a quarterback make. We need to judge all of Elway's career - including his record and success as a starter. The fact of the matter is, what placed Elway above and beyond the quarterbacks of his age was the fact that he was a consistent winner and was clutch when he needed, as evidenced by his 35 fourth-quarter comebacks, 47 game-winning drives, and over .600 winning percentage (even in the playoffs). My opponent also argues Elway's pass attempts are not important - I disagree. They demonstrate his team trusted him with the ball, and his career stats indicate this trust was warranted because he won so many games and had so many comebacks.
More confusingly, my opponent argues John Elway was never 'elite'. Why does he argue this? Because his stats "aren't as good as" Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees. This argument makes no sense whatsoever - the definition of 'elite' today is not even close to the one 20 or 30 years ago. Quarterbacks weren't routinely throwing for 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in the 80s and 90s, because the game was different. He also confusingly argues Elway shouldn't have gone to the Pro Bowl in years where his 'passer rating' is 'low', but I've already established passer rating isn't important: apparently the players, coaches, and fans agree, because they voted Elway to the Pro Bowl nine times. My opponent continually uses his 'Rate+' stat shows Elway wasn't that good, I've already established that the same source ranks Elway as the fourth-best quarterback of all time. Remember, this debate is on whether Elway is one the ten best quarterbacks ever - that my opponent's only source ranks Elway in the top-five all-time demonstrates my arguments are factual and that my opponent's debate resolution has been debunked.
Also, large numbers of pass attempts are not important. Because of his large pass attempts, Elway finshed with poor TD% and pass yards per attempt. Elway never finshed with over 8 yards per attempt. His career touchdown percentage is just 4.1% and his yards per attempt is only 7.1
I have no idea where my opponent "already established passer rating isn't important". Quite the contrary, I believe passer rating is the most important stat. It effectively combines touchdowns, yards, interceptions and pass attempts. Thus, a quarterback cannot have a high rating unless he is efficient. My opponent has also claimed that Rate+ is totally "useless". Once again this baffles me. Rate+ is a very useful stat that compares a player's passer rating to the league's passer rating. Thus it accounts for today's pass happy league. Like I said before, there is NO EXCUSE for Elway's poor Rate+ in his earlier seasons.
My opponent has been Approximate Value Stat to show how well Elway has played in his career. However, i doubt the validity of such a stat. For example, they give Philip Rivers a score of 16 in 2013. This is amazing as that score is below his score in 2008, 2009, 2010, his turnover filled 2011 season and even his first season as a starter, 2006. Never mind that River's 2013 Rate+ is 20 points above his 2011 Rate+ , 10 points above his 2006 Rate+ and 5 points above his 2010 Rate+.
Year #, TD, Yards, Completion %, Int, Passer rating, Rate+ , "Value"
2006, 22, 3388, 61.7%, 9, 92.0, 115, 18
2011, 27, 4624, 62.9%, 20, 88.7, 105, 17
2013, 32, 4478, 69.5%, 11, 105.5, 125,16
As you can see, Rivers was much better in 2013 than in 2006 or 2011. His passer rating was higher by 13.5 points and 16.8 points respectively. That just leads me to wonder. How in the world is his value lower in 2013? Another example is Drew Brees in 2008 and 2009.
Year#, TD, Yards, Completion %, Int, Passer Rating, Rate+,, "Value"
2008, 34, 5069, 65,0%, 17, 96.2, 116, 17
2009, 34, 4388, 70.6%, 11, 109.6, 132, 16
Brees had more yards in 2008... and that's it. Sure it was 681 extra yards, but Brees completed a higher percentage of his passes, had six less interceptions, his passer rating was 13.4 points higher and his Rate+ was 16 points better. And in 2009, Brees led the "Aints" all the way to a Super Bowl victory. My opponent states that becasue Rate+ and Value comes from the same site, thus they must have the same validity. Unfortunately, he is wrong. This is because Rate+ is a skip away from an actual stat, passer rating. Rate+ is found simply dividing the player's passer rating over the league's passer rating and then multiplying by 100 to make it easier to see. Thus, it takes into account higher league passer rating. Meanwhile, the way Value is found is absloutely mystifying. They might some kind of crazy forumla that demands serious review.
My opponent also notes Elway's large amounts of game winning drives and comebacks. But comebacks aren't neccessary impressive. For example, remember Aaron Rodgers back in 2011? Those Packer scored 560 points and went 15-1. Yes, they were knocked out in the divisonal round. But it was by the eventual Super Bowl champions, the Giants. And how many game winning drives did Rodgers have? How many 4th quarter comebacks? 0 game winning drives. One 4th quarter comeback. That's not just a fluke either, in 2010 when the Packers won the Super Bowl, Rodgers had 0 game winning drives and 1 4th quarter comeback. Rodgers and the Packers were simply so good, they almost never found themselves LOSING in the 4th quarter. The fact is that comebacks are nice, but I rather have a quarterback that doesn't NEED to comeback. Let's take a look at a very recent example, Andrew Luck against the Chiefs during the divisional round.
Luck- 29/45, 443 yards, 4 passing touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery touchdown
The Colts had fallen behind 38-10 with 13:39 left in the 3rd quarter. Then Luck had a historic comeback. But however, can it argued that Luck had a fantastic game? Yes he threw for the second highest yards in franchise history for a playoff game. But the thing is though, he threw 3 picks and finished with a passer rating of "only" 98.7. Luck did save the game for the Colts. However, he nearly BLEW the game for the Colts. If it was Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, they would never be in a hole in the first place. Of course, some comebacks are from quarterbacks who didn't make mistakes. Let's say Luck didn't throw any picks, it wasn't his fault that the Colts were falling behind. In that case, then yes Luck was very impressive. But Luck did throw those picks, and thus he should be blamed as much as he should be praised. Considering that Elway threw 226 career interceptions, we come to the conclusion that he dug a hole for himself. Like my opponent stated, "how is one season more representative of Elway than a whole career?". Thus I do not look at what Elway do in the 4th quarter, but instead the entire game.
My opponent states that "the definition of 'elite' today is not even close to the one 20 or 30 years ago. Quarterbacks weren't routinely throwing for 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in the 80s and 90s, because the game was different." Yes, quarterbacks didn't have amazing stats before like they did today. HOWEVER, the definition has not changed and will never change. 'Elite' means the best. When I look at Elway's stats, he was never a great quarterback. He only led his league in yards in 1993. That's it. He finished in the top 5 in major stats less times than Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and even Philip Rivers. That's unacceptable. Meanwhile, my opponent is still hiding behind the fact that it was harder to pass before. I have made adjustments to stats. Rate+ is a big example. It compares the player's passer rating to the league passer rating. Thus, it eliminates any advantage. The fact that Philip Rivers and Tony Romo have better Rate clearly shows why Elway is overrated. Also, when I use the amount of times a player has finished in the top 5, that accounts for the pass happy league. Rivers finished in top 5 for yards 3 times, touchdowns 4 times, passer rating 4 times, % twice, and interception only once. And he has played half the seasons Elway has played. The fact is Rivers is better compared to his league than Elway is to his league. The belief that Elway is an amazing quarterback is completely unjustifiable.
Pro Bowls are overrated. What can I say? I show an example in LaDainian Tomlinson in2003. He led the league in yards from scrimmage and was not elected to the Pro Bowl. Every single year, snubs are made. Also, only fans vote for the Pro Bowl. They are allowed to vote as many times they want, thus making the Pro Bowl more about popularity than skill. Coaches and the media vote for All-Pro, the very best of the best. Elway was never voted to the first team All-Pro.
What about playoffs? Elway playoffs numbers are not very impressive.
54.5% completion, 4,964 yards, 27 touchdowns, 21 interceptions, a 79.7 quarterback rating in 22 games. His numbers are almost identical to his regular season stats, which are not impressive. How about the Super Bowl?
50% completion, 1,128 yards, three touchdowns, eight interceptions, a 59.3 quarterback rating. They are horrific. The fact is, Elway was never a great quarterback. Even in the Super Bowls he won, he did terrible.
-Elway's stats are based off of longevity, not greatness, he only led the league in a major category once. His career passer rating is just 79.9, bad even for his time. Remember, Boomer Esiason had a career 81.1 passer rating
-Comebacks are overrated. I want a quarterback that doesn't fall into a hole.
-Elway's playoffs stats aren't impressive
-Elway's Super Bowl stats are TERRIBLE
-Elway's team won lots of games in the regular season. But since Elway has only average stats, then how can we conclude that it Elway that carried the team? Especially in the 1997 Super Bowl where Terrell Davis had 157 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns whereas Elway finished witha passer rating of 51.9
And that's the story of John Elway, a man with a great arm, but never did much with it. I wish my opponent good luck and VOTE PRO.
As we enter the final round, I will sum up my own arguments as well as rebutting the remaining arguments from my opponent. To recount the debate win condition, I needed to establish Elway was a top-ten quarterback in league history, while my opponent needed to establish the opposite.
In round 2, I argued John Elway is a top ten quarterback for multiple reasons: the first was his impressive winning record, including having 12 winning seasons as opposed to only two losing seasons and two .500 seasons, seven division championships, five conference championships, and two Super Bowl championships, in addition to his impressive record of come-from behind victories and clutch wins. Second, I argued his career statistics are among the most impressive in league history, with him ranking in the top ten in virtually every career passing and rushing (QB) categories, in addition to consistently ranking in the top ten on a season-by-season basis in these same important categories (including the ones my opponent claimed Elway was lacking in) and rarely ranking in the top ten in turnovers. Even in down seasons my opponent mentioned, Elway almost always finished with impressive records and playoff berths. Although my opponent asserted Elway was a mediocre passer according to PFR's Rate+ stat, I established Elway ranks in the top ten of all players in that website's Approximate Value Stat, an all-encompassing stat that ranks the best players in the league history. I also rebutted my opponent's key arguments: that Elway did not, in fact, start his career poorly, and in fact led his team to strong performances even in the parts of his career my opponent asserts as slumps. I also established that part of Elway's legacy is his ability to lead his teams to victory, something that contemporaries with 'similar' stats like Boomer Esiason could simply not do. I also questioned my opponent's claim that team success has no impact on a player's career ranking, something I found bizarre.
In round 3, I questioned my opponent's claims that season stats outweigh career stats by noting the entire work of Elway's career is more important than any solitary moment. Additionally, I established Elway's success was what placed him above and beyond his contemporaries: his win percentage and clutch performance prove this. Given his team gave him a large number of pass attempts, it is safe to say Elway's share in the success of his team was much: if he were an average quarterback, why would the team trust him to throw the ball more than most other quarterbacks? I also noted my opponent was basing his definition of 'elite' on modern quarterbacks, not contemporaries to Elway; it simply doesn't make any sense to make a judgement on who 'elite' in Elway's era when the game was so different then. I noted Elway's performances were regarded highly by his peers, leading to nine Pro Bowl appearances, as well as reiterated that, based on my opponent's primary source (PFR), Elway ranks among the top-ten best players in league history - and in the top five among quarterbacks.
With these summaries out of the way, I will now rebut my opponent's final arguments:
To start, my opponent claims he was not hung up on individual seasons but was simply 'showing the importance of them'. I find this claim rather odd, as my opponent focuses entirely on individual seasons despite the fact I established that Elway was consistently ranking among the best passers in the league. He asserts that Elway never led the league in passer rating, touchdowns, or completion percentage. I say to that, "so what"? He was ranking near the top of league his whole career. The fact he never finished first in cherry-picked categories is not that important. My opponent then claims his 'average stats' are not worthy of a top ten quarterback (even though these stats were good enough to rank him in the top ten in pretty much every major statistical category). Next, my opponent claims pass attempts aren't important and are the reason he ranks relatively weakly in yards per attempt and touchdowns per attempt, never mind that Elway ranked in the top ten in league nine times out of 16 seasons in the former stat or he's never explained why these are important stats.
Additionally, my opponent claims passer rating and Rate + are great stats and are important. He also argues there is 'no excuse' for Elway's 'poor' passer rating in some seasons. I counter that any stat that ranks Michael Vick - a quarterback notorious for poor accuracy - ahead of Dan Fouts or Fran Tarkenton as a passer is a worthless stat. Oddly, my opponent doesn't seem to trust the reliability of his own source, as he tries to disprove the Approximate Value stat by linking to more stats from that site. For example, he argues Rivers was statistically better one year but had a lower ranking than another. Why is this? Because Approximate Value looks beyond the stats to the surrounding pieces, factoring in the ability of the line and receiving corps. Simply put, Rivers may have been 'statistically better' in 2013, but his surrounding pieces were better and his overall contribution to the team was weaker than in other years. This is far superior because it factors in the conditions a quarterback has to work with. If my opponent wants to discount the Approximate Value stat entirely he needs to discount Rate+ as both come from the exact same source.
Confusingly, my opponent argues comebacks aren't important because good teams are often in situations where they don't need to comeback. Simply put, this logic is absurd: a team can finish 15-1, but if their quarterback can't get it done in the clutch it shows a deficiency in that quarterback. He further argues comebacks can come after a player has played poorly in some parts. So what? A quarterback can have fantastic stats and still lose a game by a couple touchdowns. If they can't get it done when they need to, that needs to be considered and factored in. My opponent attempts to trump Elway as having thrown a lot of interceptions: 226, in fact. This is extremely deceptive, however, because Elway rarely finished in the top ten in interceptions (only five times in his career) and doesn't rank in the top ten all-t in that stat. Further, he threw less interceptions than Dan Marino (considered by many to be the greatest quarterback of all time) and has only thrown seven more than Peyton Manning, a current player my opponent has repeatedly asserted is better.
After this, my opponent again insists Elway was not 'elite' - although he agrees the game is in fact different and quarterbacks didn't have amazing stats, this time by saying he finished in the top ten in league stats less times than some modern quarterbacks. This argument makes no sense: why is he not comparing Elway to contemporaries? I don't understand this. On one hand, my opponent agrees quarterbacks in Elway's era didn't consistently throw for 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. On the other, he is judging Elway in comparison to modern quarterbacks.
From there, my opponent argues Pro Bowls are overrated. One reason he gives for this is that 'only fans vote for the Pro Bowl'. Simply put, my opponent's football knowledge seems to be lacking: fan voting only counts for 33% of the Pro Bowl vote, the other 67% belonging to coaches and players. Finally, my opponent argues Elway's playoff stats are nearly identical to that of his career performance. He never cites this, but I've already established Elway had a nearly identical record in the playoffs as the regular season, so that makes sense: it shows he played basically the same in the playoffs, where you win or go home, as in significantly less important regular season games.
To conclude: according to my opponent's primary source, Elway ranks as the fourth-best quarterback ever. Elway was a consistent winner, responsible for almost all the success in the Broncos team history, and consistently ranked among the league statistical leaders. He also ranks top-ten all time in most passing stats, in all quarterback running stats, and does not rank in the top ten in negative stats. Vote con!
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