The Quarterback Abstract:

Ranking the Quarterbacks in Modern Day History

Online Supplement

This book contains entries on 367 men and attempts to answer three questions about each quarterback: Who was he? What was his playing style? How good was he?. The bulk of the group is made up of 338 quarterbacks who have started at least 10 games in the NFL since 1950. Beginning with 1950, two-platoon football was made permanent allowing the T-formation quarterback to focus solely on offense without also having to play defensive back anymore. The advent of the two-platoon game also made it easier to track starting quarterbacks. In the book, I also included 27 pre-1950 signal callers, some of whom played at least part of their career as single-wing tailbacks. These men either were likely to have started at least 10 games at quarterback or were passers of such significance that they could not be ignored.

I used a cutoff point of 10 NFL starts in order to keep the book to a manageable length, but there are at least another 240 quarterbacks who started a game in the league. This online supplement contains capsule entries on each of those field generals, divided into seven web pages.

Quarterbacks with 1-9 Starts

A-C | D-G | H-K | L-M | N-Q | R-S | T-Z

Quarterbacks L-M



Tom Landry

NYY 1949

NYG 1950-55

0-1-0 emergency
Star defensive back and defensive coach Tom Landry was called upon by the Giants to start at quarterback, but with disastrous results. With both Charley Conerly and Fred Benners injured, Landry, who played quarterback at Texas, called signals in the second half of a 63-7 loss to Pittsburgh on November 30th. The next week, Tom went all the way in a loss to Washington. In his six quarters, Landry completed just 11 of 47 passes with one touchdown and seven interceptions. Conerly returned the following week.
Gary Lane
CLE 1966-67 NYG 1968
Gary Lane played under Dan Devine at Missouri and led the Tigers over Steve Spurrier and the Florida Gators in the 1966 Sugar Bowl. Lane was a running quarterback who was drafted as future pick in the ninth round of the 1965 NFL draft. His only NFL start came in the 1967 season finale in a 28-24 loss to the Eagles although Gary threw two fourth quarter touchdown passes. Lane spent one year in the CFL and later served as an NFL Official for 18 years from 1982-99, working two Super Bowls. He died from a heart attack in 2003.
Babe Laufenberg

NOS 1986

SDC 1988

DAL 1989-90

Babe played football for three different universities, five NFL teams and one squad in Europe. He was John Elway’s first roommate at Stanford, followed Dan Fouts in San Diego and backed up Troy Aikman in Dallas. Laufenberg had a weak arm, completed just 44% of his passes and threw five touchdowns to 11 interceptions. Even in Europe, he managed only two touchdowns to six interceptions. What Babe did have was a sense of humor and an amiable personality which he has since parlayed into a career as a Cowboys broadcaster.
Larry Lawrence
OAK 1974-75 TBB 1976
After going undrafted by the NFL out of Iowa, Lawrence spent two years as a running quarterback in the CFL, throwing eight touchdowns and 25 interceptions. Signing on as a backup in Oakland, Larry won both his starts as a Raider. As a rookie in 1974, he beat the Chiefs 7-6 when Daryle Lamonica came off the bench to throw a fourth quarter touchdown pass for the Raiders only points. A year later, Lawrence beat the Chargers 6-0 on two George Blanda field goals. He finished his career with nine completions in 31 attempts and with four interceptions.
Jim LeClair
DEN 1967-68
LeClair did not play football in high school, and was a walk on at C. W. Post. He was taken in the 16th round of the 1966 NFL draft by San Francisco. LeClair didn’t make the 49ers, but surfaced a year later on the desperate Broncos. In 1968, he was the second quarterback Denver tried before giving Marlin Briscoe a shot in the absence of titular starter Steve Tensi. LeClair completed just 46% of his passes and averaged a minuscule 4.3 yards per pass for two touchdowns and six interceptions. He also fumbled eight times in eight games.
Bruce Lemmerman
ATL 1968-69
An undrafted free agent out of Cal State-Northridge, Lemmerman is a pro football lifer. He only completed 36% of his passes in two years in Atlanta, but spent ten seasons in the CFL where he tossed 63 touchdowns and 83 interceptions and was Warren Moon’s backup in Edmonton for the last one. Since then he has coached and scouted for the CFL, USFL and NFL.
Cleo Lemon

SDC 2005

MIA 2006-07 JAX 2008

1-7-0 active
Lemon was originally signed as a free agent by Baltimore in 2002 and spent a year playing in Europe. Miami obtained Lemon in a trade with San Diego for A.J. Feeley in 2006 and a year later led the team to its only victory in 2007, upsetting the Ravens on a 64-yard touchdown pass to Greg Camarillo in overtime. Lemon was named NFL Player of the Week for that, but was cut in the off season.
Cliff Lewis
CLE 1946-51
Ohio-native Cliff Lewis started the very first game in Cleveland Browns history on September 6, 1946. The 44-0 win over the Miami Seahawks was also the first game of the brand new All America Football Conference. Lewis was actually Otto Graham’s backup and played mostly as a defensive back; he intercepted 30 passes in his six-year career and returned punts and kicks as well. Lewis threw the very first AAFC touchdown pass in that first game – a 19-yard strike to Mac Speedie in the first quarter.
Rusty Lisch
Cards 1980-83 CHI 1984
Lisch’s claim to fame is that Dan Devine started him ahead of Joe Montana at Notre Dame. Lisch was a good runner and was fine as a practice quarterback, but completed 47% of his passes for one touchdown and 11 interceptions in the NFL. The Bears gave him a start against the Packers in 1984, and Lisch lost to the awful Green Bay quarterback combination of Randy Wright and Rich Campbell.
Johnny Long
CHI 1944-45
Colgate’s Johnny Long spent several years playing for Chicago’s farm team, the Newark Bears, where he shared the quarterbacking with Bill Glenn. With Chicago’s roster thinned by the War, Long got to back up Sid Luckman in the NFL for two years. When Sid missed three games while he was in the Merchant Marines in 1944, Long and veteran Gene Ronzani split the quarterbacking. Although he appeared in a dozen games for the Bears, Long threw just 14 passes.
Clint Longley
DAL 1974-75 SDC 1976
Originally drafted by the Bengals and traded to Dallas for a fifth round pick, Clint “Bomber” Longley is famous for two things. On the field, he relieved an injured Roger Staubach on Thanksgiving 1974 and led the Cowboys back from a 16-3 second half deficit to beat the Redskins 24-23. The winning score came on a 50-yard bomb to Drew Pearson with 28 seconds to play and was memorialized by guard Blaine Nye’s comment that it was “the triumph of an uncluttered mind.” Off the field, Clint sucker-punched Staubach in the locker room during training camp in 1976 and was quickly traded to the Chargers for a first round draft pick. After one failed year in San Diego, Longley finished his career in Canada. Dallas was able to use that draft pick from San Diego in the deal to acquire the draft rights to Tony Dorsett in 1977.
Mike Loyd
Cards 1980
Loyd was an undrafted free agent out of Missouri Southern who completed just five of his 17 NFL passes. In his one start against the Redskins on December 21st, Mike went zero for nine passing and was benched at halftime in the 31-7 loss. He later played in the CFL and USFL.
Richie Lucas
BUF 1960-61
Riverboat Richie Lucas preceded Galen Hall as Penn State’s quarterback and was the top pick of both the Redskins and the brand new Bills in 1960. In an early boost for the AFL, Lucas signed with Buffalo, but the multitalented player was a better halfback and defensive back than quarterback and only lasted two seasons. He had an awkward shot put throwing motion and only completed 43% of his passes in the pros. He later returned to his alma mater and served as Assistant Athletic Director for many years.
Oliver Luck
Oilers 1983-86
A second round pick out of West Virginia in 1982, Oliver Luck quarterbacked the Oilers to their only two wins in the 1983 season, but Warren Moon‘s arrival in Houston the following year relegated Oliver to the bench for the rest of his career. After retiring, Luck became the Director of NFL Europe and more recently has served as the president of the Houston Dynamo soccer team.
Terry Luck
CLE 1977
An undrafted free agent out of Nebraska, Luck got his only start in the final game of 1977 after Coach Forest Gregg was fired. The Browns lost to the Seahawks 20-19 and Luck completed just one of eight passes in the second half, although he did catch a touchdown pass from runner Mike Pruitt. Knee problems and a TD pass to interception ratio of 1 to 7 ended his career after one season.
Ed Luther
SDC 1980-84
A fourth round pick out of San Jose State, Luther spent five seasons as Dan Fouts’ backup. With Fouts hurt in 1983, Luther got to start six games and threw 7 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. In a frightful Halloween game against the Redskins that year, Ed was picked off a team record six times. Jumping to the USFL in 1985, Luther threw 15 touchdowns and 21 interceptions for the Jacksonville Bulls. He failed to catch on with the Falcons in 1986 and was out of football.
Matt Lytle

SEA 2000

CAR 2001

Former Pitt Panther Matt Lytle was an undrafted free agent who passed through Seattle before landing with the Carolina Panthers in 2001. Lytle got to start the one game that rookie Chris Weinke missed in Carolina’s awful 1-15 season, and the team lost to the Rams 48-14. The lefthander also played in Europe.
Kyle Mackey (replacement)

MIA 1987

NYJ 1989

Kyle Mackey’s father Dee played tight end for the Colts under Weeb Ewbank, was cut by incoming coach Don Shula and moved on to the Jets under Ewbank in 1963. Kyle was drafted in the 11th round of the 1984 draft by the Cardinals and was given his chance by Shula in the 1987 replacement player strike games for the Dolphins. Two years later, Mackey surfaced briefly as a backup with the Jets before heading to the Arena League.
Bill Mackrides

PHL 1947-51 NYG 1953

PIT 1953

Bill Mackrides began his college career at the University of Nevada-Reno as a center and then shifted to end before becoming their quarterback. The Eagles drafted Bill in the second round, and he served as their backup quarterback for five years before being released late in 1951. In Bill’s only start in Philadelphia, he led the Eagles over the Bears for the first time in franchise history in 1948. Mackrides spent a year in Canada and then returned to the NFL in 1953 with the Giants. Released in midseason, he was signed by Pittsburgh to replace an injured Jim Finks towards the end of the season. For his career, he threw 15 touchdowns and 28 interceptions.
Gene Malinowski
BOS 1948
An all-around back from Detroit Mercy, Malinowski was a ninth round pick who started the last game of the 1948 season for the woeful Boston Yanks when they upset the eventual NFL champion Eagles. Malinowski completed just 28% of his passes in his only pro season and also intercepted a pass on defense.
Dan Manucci (replacement)
BUF 1979-80, 1987
Manucci was a fifth round pick out of Kansas State who completed five of six passes in his first two years in Buffalo before trying the CFL and USFL. During the 1987 NFL players’ strike, the Bills brought Manucci back and he proved himself to be slow to set up and an inaccurate passer, completing seven of 21 passes. He has been a sportscaster in his native Arizona since then.
Gary Marangi
BUF 1974-76
Marangi preceded Mike Kruczek at Boston College and was a third round pick of Buffalo in 1974. He was an elusive scrambler but a 36% passer who got his chance to start in 1976 when Joe Ferguson hurt his back. Gary lost all seven of his starts, completing his NFL career with the worst record in history among retired post-1950 quarterbacks. On Thanksgiving Day 1976, O.J. Simpson ran for 273 yards and two touchdowns against Detroit and yet the Bills still lost 27-14 because Marangi completed four of 21 passes for 29 yards and an interception.
Todd Marinovich
Raiders 1991-92
Son of former Raider linebacker and strength coach Marv Marinovich, Todd was bred to be an NFL quarterback by his father, but turned out to be more interested in skateboards, surfboards and drugs. The left-handed Marinovich was the Raiders’ number one pick in 1991 but washed out of the NFL, CFL and Arena League and has been arrested on drug-related charges several times.
Jamie Martin

Rams 1996, 2001-05

JAX 1998, 2000 NOS 2006-07

Jamie Martin won the Walter Payton Award as the best 1-AA player in the country while at Weber State but went undrafted by the NFL. Still, he has managed to bounce around on seven teams for 16 years, usually as a third stringer. For his career, he has thrown 20 touchdowns and 21 interceptions, the same totals he recorded in 1995 with the Amsterdam Admirals in NFL Europe
Bruce Mathison

SDC 1983-84, 1986

BUF 1985

SEA 1987

Mathison backed up Turner Gill at Nebraska for four years, but was still drafted in the 10th round by the Chargers in 1983. Two years later, Mathison was in Buffalo backing up another Nebraska quarterback, Vince Ferragamo. After Ferragamo led the Bills to a 1-8 start, the 6’4” Mathison got his chance as a running quarterback in November. Bruce led the Bills to a win over Houston in his first start and then lost the last six games of the year. The two Cornhuskers combined to throw for 9 touchdowns and 31 interceptions with Mathison contributing four and 14 respectively. Jim Kelly arrived the next season in Buffalo.
Tom Matte
Colts 1961-72
1-0-0 emergency
In 1965, the Colts’ Johnny Unitas went down to an arm injury in the eleventh game and his backup, Gary Cuozzo went down two weeks later in a loss to Green Bay. Baltimore coach Don Shula was able to obtain veteran Ed Brown on waivers from Pittsburgh during the week, but he did not know the offense so halfback Tom Matte started the season finale against the Rams. Matte, who played quarterback at Ohio State, wore a wristband containing the plays and tried to direct a run-only attack, going 0 for 2 passing. Ed Brown was called on in the second half to complete 3 of 5 passes including a 68-yard bomb to John Mackey for the game winner that forced a playoff with Green Bay the following week. Brown was not eligible for the postseason so Matte was the man behind center. Matte completed just 5 of 12 passes for 40 yards, but the Colts’ defense scored a touchdown and stymied the Packers for most of the game. The Packers tied the game at 10 in the closing seconds on a disputed field goal and won on a second field goal in overtime to end Matte’s valiant quarterback career.
Steve Matthews

JAX 1997

TEN 1998

Matthews transferred to junior college and then Memphis State from the University of Tennessee because Heath Shuler was the Vols’ starter. Ultimately, the NFL career of this seventh round pick was no worse than that of top pick Shuler. Steve was a lefthander who could not beat out Pat Barnes in Kansas City but eventually surfaced with the Jaguars for whom he got his only start in 1997. In that win over the Giants, Matthews was 23 for 35 for 252 yards. He also played in Europe and later became an Arena League coach.
Matt Mauck
TEN 2005
Mauck played minor league baseball before returning to college to play football. Mauck quarterbacked LSU to the 2004 national championship and was a seventh round pick by the Broncos. He was a running quarterback who did not have the passing skills to play the pro game.
Dave Mays
CLE 1976-77 BUF 1978
Mays was a 27-year old free agent out of dental school when he joined the Browns as their first African American quarterback in 1976. Mays previously had played at Texas Southern and then for Shreveport in the WFL. He relieved Brian Sipe who had suffered a concussion and led the Browns to an 18-16 win over the Steelers in 1976. That was the game in which Turkey Joe Jones lifted up Terry Bradshaw and threw him down headfirst, knocking Terry out of the game.
Brian McClure (replacement)
BUF 1987
Buffalo drafted the 6’6” McClure out of Bowling Green in the 12th round of the 1986 draft. In his only NFL appearance, he started for the Bills in the final replacement player strike game in 1987. Completing 20 of 38 passes for a paltry 181 yards and three interceptions, McClure led the Bills to a stultifying 6-3 win over the Giants… in overtime.
Luke McCown

CLE 2004

TBB 2007-08

1-6-0 active
McCown was Cleveland’s fourth round pick out of Terry Bradshaw’s alma mater of Louisiana Tech in 2004 and went 0-4 as a starter as a rookie. He has good size and speed as well as a strong arm, but is not very accurate or consistent. The Bucs have promised the scrambler a chance to win their starting job in 2009. Luke’s older brother Josh has been equally unimpressive in his four-team seven-year NFL career.
Dan McGwire
SEA 1991-94 MIA 1995
At 6’8”, Dan McGwire is the tallest quarterback in NFL history and is the brother of former major league star Mark McGwire, but neither his size nor his name could make him a player. McGwire was beaten out as starter at Iowa by Chuck Hartlieb and transferred to San Diego State. Seattle made him their top pick in 1991 when both he and Todd Marinovich were drafted ahead of Brett Favre. Dan had some injury problems, but was also slow, stiff and inaccurate. He fell behind Kelly Stouffer and Stan Gelbaugh and then Rick Mirer in Seattle before ending his career in Miami.
Kim McQuilken
ATL 1974-77 WSH 1979
Despite coming from the football powerhouse of Lehigh, McQuilken was drafted in the third round by Atlanta and also by the WFL in 1974. The amazing thing is that a quarterback who completed 39% of his passes and threw four touchdown passes to 29 interceptions lasted five years in the NFL. He even resurfaced in 1983 in the USFL, throwing the very first interception in that league’s history. He later was an executive for the Cartoon Network.
Guido Merkens (replacement)
Oilers 1978-80 NOS 1980-85 PHL 1987
0-2-0 emergency
Bum Phillips appointed wide receiver/defensive back/kick returner Guido Merkens starting quarterback over Archie Manning when Ken Stabler was hurt in 1982. Merkens led the Saints to defeat, but did get a second chance to start in 1987, another strike season, when he started and lost a replacement-player game for the Eagles. Eagles coach Buddy Ryan said of this jack of all trades, “He can’t throw. He’s not a master of anything.” Merkens completed just 27 of 66 passes as a quarterback, proving himself willing to serve, but not able.
Don Milan
GBP 1975
Milan was undrafted out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, but spent four years in the training camps of the Raiders and Rams before making the Packers in 1975. Don was given his only start in a week eight showdown between the 1-6 Packers and the 1-6 Bears, but completed just eight of 20 passes for 127 yards in the first half before being benched. He did complete passes for 42 and 56 yards that day.
Ron Miller
Rams 1962
In the same year that the Rams selected Roman Gabriel in the first round, they also took Miller out of Wisconsin in the third round. Ron was a scrambler like his successor for the Badgers, Ron Vander Kelen. Vander Kelen, though managed to complete 42% of his NFL passes, while Miller struggled to reach 39%. In week ten against the 49ers, Ron got the start but completed just two of 11 passes for 36 yards before being benched for Zeke Bratkowski in the 24-17 loss.
Ed Miodszewski
Colts 1953
0-1-0 emergency
Mioduszewski was a 5’10” halfback out of William and Mary who was called upon to start at quarterback in the season finale for the fledgling Colts in 1953. Predictably, Baltimore lost to San Francisco 45-14, but Ed did throw two touchdown passes after the 49ers went ahead 31-0.
George Mira

SFF 1964-68 PHL 1969

MIA 1971

The Matador was the first Miami Hurricane quarterback to start an NFL game. Mira led the nation in total offense in college, and the scrambler was known for spectacular plays such as the touchdown pass he launched left-handed against Florida State in 1961. In the NFL, he managed to complete just 42% of his passes and averaged just 6.1 yards per pass – although he did average 7.6 yards running with the ball. As a rookie, George threw a pass to Billy Kilmer against Minnesota that Billy fumbled. Defensive end Jim Marshall scooped up the bouncing ball and raced to the wrong end zone for a safety. Mira later played in the CFL and WFL.
Keith Molesworth
CHI 1931-37
9-2-6 est.
Molesworth mostly played halfback for the Bears in the 1930s but also stepped in at quarterback at times, particularly in the championship season of 1932. At the same time, Keith was playing shortstop in the minor leagues; his double play partner at Syracuse in 1937 was Don Kellett who hired Molesworth as the Colts’ first coach in 1953. In the interim, Keith had coached football for many years at all levels: college, semipro and pro. Keith stayed in the Colts front office for a decade after being replaced by Weeb Ewbank as coach in 1954.
Tommy Mont
WSH 1947-49
0-2-0 est.
Mont learned the T under Clark Shaughnessy at Maryland and then went into the service. Drafted in the 12th round by the Giants in 1944, Mont was traded to Washington along with Paul Stenn for Frankie Filchock in 1945. Tommy backed up Sammy Baugh for three years and then went into college coaching. Mont was head coach at Maryland for three years and at DePauw for 18.
Matt Moore
CAR 2007
2-1-0 active
Moore transferred from UCLA to Oregon State in college and signed with Dallas as an undrafted free agent. With Jake Delhomme hurt, David Carr a disaster and Vinny Testaverde decrepit, Moore got his chance to start the last three games for the Panthers in 2007 and showed enough potential to stay on the roster for another year.
Moses Moreno

CHI 1998

SDC 1999-00

Moreno was a seventh round pick out of Colorado State who fit in perfectly as an ineffectual Bears’ quarterback. Moving to San Diego in 1999, he joined two other former Bears, Erik Kramer and Jim Harbaugh. The year that Moreno was cut by the Chargers, his brother Zeke was drafted by the team as a middle linebacker.
Mike Moroski

ATL 1979-84 Oilers 1985

SFF 1986

The 6’4” Moroski was a sixth round pick out of Cal-Davis by Atlanta in 1979 and backed up Steve Bartkowski there for six years. After a year in Houston, Mike caught on with the 49ers in 1986 and got to start two games when both Joe Montana and Jeff Kemp were hurt. For his career, he threw eight touchdowns and 18 interceptions and was cut shortly before the 49ers traded for Steve Young. Moroski has coached at his alma mater since 1988.
Dennis Morrison
SFF 1974
Morrison followed Lynn Dickey at Kansas State where he threw to tight end Henry Childs and was picked in the 14th round by the 49ers in 1973. A lefthander, Dennis did not quite measure up to San Francisco southpaws Frankie Albert and Steve Young by completing just 41% of his passes and recording a passer rating of 21.9. Due to injuries, he was one of four quarterbacks employed by the Niners in 1974, but never played again.
Perry Moss
GBP 1948
The 5’10” Moss began his college career in his hometown at Tulsa before going into the Air Force. After the War, Moss enrolled at Illinois and led the Illini to a victory over UCLA in the 1947 Rose Bowl. Both he and UCLA quarterback Ernie Case were drafted by the Packers, but only Perry signed with Green Bay. Moss only completed four of 17 passes in his one year NFL career, but spent the next 50 years coaching in the NFL, CFL, WFL, USFL, Arena League and Europe. At one point he returned to Green Bay to serve as the quarterbacks’ coach under Bart Starr. Perry’s brother Les was a major league catcher and manager who spent 50 years in professional baseball.
Bill Musgrave

SFF 1991, 1993-94

DEN 1995-96

Musgrave was drafted in the fourth round out of Oregon by the Cowboys in 1991 but ended up in San Francisco, mastering the West Coast Offense in which he would back up Joe Montana, Steve Young and John Elway. His only start came in the last game of his career, Denver’s 1996 season finale 41-6 loss to the Packers. The next year, Bill was coaching in Oakland and the year after that he took over as the Eagles’ offensive coordinator in midseason. He still coaches in the NFL.
Steve Myer
SEA 1977-79
A fourth round pick out of New Mexico by the expansion Seahawks in 1976, Myers got to start four games in 1977 when Jim Zorn was hurt. Against Tampa, Myer recorded the first four-touchdown pass game in Seattle history, but for his career, Steve threw six touchdowns and 14 interceptions. A back injury suffered in the 1980 training camp ended his career.




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Updated 8/20/09