There were some good ones in the 90s. Great ones even; Brett Favre & Steve Young should top anyone's all time list. Troy Aikman is another, as there were a handful. There were also a lot of "Game Managers' as they like to say; Billy Joes, and Tony Banks, and a smattering of Erik Kramers. The 2000's were not much better, despite giving us maybe the greatest; Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
Nope, it was the 1980s that was the Golden Age of Quarterbacks. Balls were flying due to new rules enacted in 1978 that gave the advantage to WR away from defensive backs with new pass interference penalties. And the Quarterbacks took advantage of them. The accurate winners of the 70s like Roger Staughback and Terry Bradshaw gave way to the greats of the decade of excesses. 1983 gave us half a dozen all in one draft; John Elway, Jim Kelly, Tony Eason, and Dan Marino all became stars during the decade. Add to that Jim McMahon, Joe Montana, Randall Cunningham, Danny White, Phil Simms, Joe Theismann, why I could go on forever. When you watched a football game in the 80s, Quarterbacks were the highlight of the show. In the 2000s, they 'managed the game', but a few decades before, they WERE the game.
Funny thing about twenty years, every time it comes around fads come back around too. Patterns like hair cuts, clothes styles, even music, they all work in cycles. Its starting to look like the age of the Quarterback is too.
Now its too early to anoint some of the young Quarterbacks as the next Jim Kellys or the next Dan Marinos, much less the next John Elway. But with the old adage that it takes years for QBs to develop being smashed by not one but two young guys last season, its starting to look like the Duran Duran years all over again. Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan are coming back to earth in their second seasons, but as those teams build players around their signal callers, they will continue to improve to an even higher level. Aaron Rodgers is well on his way to becoming an elite thrower for the Packers now that the community owned team is able to get over his replacing an icon.
The home of Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins are learning Chad Henne is loaded with talent as capable of leading the team when another 2000s 'manager' Chad Pennington went down with another injury.
This year, the stars developed first in New York where Mark Sanchez has wowed Jets fans even on days when he looks like a rookie. Same with us fans in Tampa Bay, watching Josh Freeman, who was held off until rookie Head Coach Raheem Morris felt he was absolutely ready. He shined against the Packers and drove the Bucs to a second 4th quarter comeback in as many weeks before succumbing to the callings of his 1st year status.
Then you have the Dan Fouts types, guys who spent the second part of their careers in the 80's, and you have guys like Drew Brees and Jay Cutler (give Cutler a few receivers in Chicago and he will be right back) who will be the feature players for many years to come into the Teens.
How much longer will Peyton Manning play? Kurt Warner? The guy who went Purple after being Green?
Will Vince Young be added to the list? Alex Smith? Matt Cassel?
What about Carson Palmer and Big Ben Roethlisberger?
Kevin Kolb was taken way after Jamarcus Russell and Brady Quinn were distant memories in the 2007 draft, but recent views of his work with the Philadelphia Eagles during Donavan McNabb's injury show he may be the real deal. Trent Edwards has shown promise with the Buffalo Bills, who will put together a new coaching staff and offensive coordinator next year to feature his talents.
In this post, Ive listed a lot of names. Some are reaches, while some are guys who will wear gold sport coats when they are done with their careers. But anyway you look at it, fans watching the NFL over the next decade will be treated to an NFL that is QB driven, and sure to raise a level of excitement unseen since the Decade of decadence.
Like Pat Benatar said; "Hit me with your best shot". That, and Hell is for game managers.