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 T-Z


George Taliaferro

LAD 1949

NYY 1950-51

DTX 1952

Colts 1953-54 PHL 1955

0-3-0 emergency
George Taliaferro was a single-wing tailback and more. He ran the ball, caught the ball, passed it, punted it, returned it and played defense. Despite playing for teams that finished 23-58-3, Taliaferro went to three Pro Bowls as an all around star. He became the first Black player ever drafted by the NFL when George Halas selected him in the 13th round in 1949. Taliaferro signed with Los Angeles of the All America Football Conference instead and alternated at tailback that year with Glenn Dobbs. Although not a quarterback, George threw 284 passes in his career, completing just 32% for 10 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. Taliaferro became the second black quarterback in the NFL in 1953 and the first black starter when the banged up Colts put him behind center for three games late in their inaugural season of 1953.
George Terlep
BUF 1946-48
0-5-1 est.
The 5’10” Terlep played center for Notre Dame, but when he went into the service during World War II, he played quarterback under Paul Brown at the Great Lakes Naval Station. After the War, Terlep signed with Buffalo of the All America Football Conference and shared the quarterbacking there with Al Dekdebrun. The following year, Notre Dame’s George Ratterman signed with the Bills, and Terlep became a backup. One year later, Paul Brown acquired George to be Otto Graham’s backup in Cleveland, and Terlep had the satisfaction of watching the Browns crush the Bills 49-7 in the championship game. Terlep coached at both the college level and in the CFL after his playing days ended.
Travis Tidwell
NYG 1950-51
Auburn’s Travis Tidwell led the nation in total offense as a freshman in 1946 and spurred the Tigers to their first win over Alabama in 40 years in 1949. Although it should be noted that the two schools did not meet on the gridiron between 1908 and 1947. Travis was drafted in the first round by the Giants in 1950 despite being just 5’10” and ran the T formation for New York while Charlie Conerly ran Coach Steve Owen’s pet A formation. A fractured back ended Tidwell’s pro career in his second season, and Travis went on to coach in college and in the CFL.
Scott Tinsley (replacement)
PHL 1987
Tinsley played behind Paul McDonald and Sean Salisbury at USC, but when the Eagles needed a quarterback for the replacement players strike games in 1987, Scott’s former Trojan roommate Jeff Fisher remembered him. Fisher was Philadelphia’s defensive coach under Buddy Ryan at the time. Tinsley threw for 338 yards and three touchdowns in a loss to Dallas, but then threw four interceptions against the Packers and lost his starting job prematurely one week before the end of the strike.
Willie Totten (replacement)
BUF 1987
Totten was known as “Satellite” at Mississippi Valley State and threw 58 touchdown passes in 1984, including nine in one game. Jerry Rice was his primary target. Willie went undrafted by the NFL and flubbed his chance in the 1987 replacement player strike games for Buffalo. Totten completed just 39% of his passes and fumbled nine times in two games. He became the Head Coach at his alma mater in 2002.
Marques Tuiasosopo
OAK 2001-03, 2005-06, 2008
0-2-0 active
Marques is the son of former 49ers nose tackle Manu and the brother of Zach, a fullback on Tampa’s practice squad, and Matt, a third basemen for the Mariners. Marques was the MVP of the 2001 Rose Bowl when he led the Washington Huskies over Drew Brees’ Purdue Boilermakers. Tuiasosopo was picked after Brees in the draft by the Raiders and has managed to stick around for eight years as a backup despite throwing just two touchdowns to seven interceptions and averaging 6.2 yards per pass. In his second NFL start, Tuiasosopo was sacked six times, fumbled twice and threw two interceptions in a 26-10 loss to the Jets.
Tim Van Galder
Cards 1972
Iowa State’s Tim Van Galder was a future selection of the Cardinals in 1966 and then spent three years on the St. Louis practice squad and two years in the military before he finally got a chance to play in 1972. Van Galder started the first three games for the Cardinals that year, but led them to just 39 points and one victory before losing his job to Jim Hart and then Gary Cuozzo. Acquired by the Jets in 1973, Tim lived for a while with Joe Namath but never played for New York. Van Galder was a fun loving free spirit who has had a long career as a sportscaster in St. Louis.
Jeff Van Raaphorst (replacement)
ATL 1987
Van Raaphorst’s father Dick played linebacker and placekicked for the Chargers in the 1960s and his brother Mike backed up Carson Palmer at USC. Jeff was the MVP of the 1987 Rose Bowl in leading Arizona State over Michigan, but went undrafted. During the 1987 replacement player strike games, he shared the quarterbacking for the Falcons with Erik Kramer. Kramer reemerged in the NFL four years later, but Van Raaphorst had a bad shoulder and a weak arm and never played again.
Ron Vander Kelen
MIN 1963-67
At Wisconsin, Vander Kelen was underappreciated. One of his college coaches even said of Ron’s sidearm throwing style, “You might say he throws like a woman.” In the 1963 Rose Bowl, though, Ron led Wisconsin back from a 42-14 deficit with 203 yards passing and three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The Badgers ran out of time and still lost to USC 42-37, but the scrambling Vander Kelen made a name for himself. He signed with Minnesota as an undrafted free agent, but first led the College All Stars to a win over the champion Packers in August. As a pro, Vander Kelen backed up fellow scrambler Fran Tarkenton, but only managed to complete 42% of his passes.
Mark Vlasic

SDC 1987-88, 1990

KCC 1991

Iowa’s Vlasic was picked in the fourth round by the Chargers, but could not get past Dan Fouts, Mark Malone, Babe Laufenberg, Jim McMahon and Billy Joe Tolliver in San Diego. Acquired by the Chiefs in Plan B free agency, Mark backed up Steve DeBerg and got to play in the postseason against the Bills when Steve sprained his thumb in the second quarter with Kansas City down 14-0. Vlasic completed nine of 20 passes for 124 yards and four interceptions in the 37-14 loss. It was his final NFL appearance.
Tommy Wade
PIT 1964-65
In the 1963 showdown between top-ranked Texas and Texas A&M, backup quarterback Tommy Wade entered the game with five minutes left and the Longhorns trailing 13-9. Wade led Texas on a 78-yard drive to the A&M two when starter Duke Carlisle came back in the game to score the winning points on a quarterback sneak with 1:19 to play. As an undrafted free agent, Tommy tried out for the Steelers but ended up with the minor league Pittsburgh Ironmen in 1964. Late in 1965, Steelers’ Coach Mike Nixon said that Pittsburgh would finish the year with Wade, “even if we get beat by 100 points.” Wade played in three games after that and the Steelers lost all three by a combined 73 points. In a game against the Eagles, Wade and Bill Nelsen combined for nine interceptions, with Tommy contributing a team record seven. In five NFL appearances, Wade threw two touchdowns, 13 interceptions and fumbled six times.
Andrew Walter
OAK 2006-08
2-7-0 active
A third round pick out of Arizona State, the geeky 6’6” Walter started eight disastrous games for the Raiders as a rookie in 2006 and was sacked on 14.3% of pass plays. In 15 NFL games thus far, Walter has thrown three touchdown passes and 16 interceptions, while being sacked 51 times and fumbling 16 times.
Dave Walter (replacement)
CIN 1987
The Giants drafted Dave Walter out of Michigan Tech in the 11th round of the 1987 draft and cut him, but the Bengals brought him in for the replacement player strike games. In three NFL games, Walter fumbled six times and completed 47% of his passes. He played some minor league football afterwards and later failed a tryout with Green Bay.
Andre Ware
DET 1990-93
Ware won the Heisman Trophy at Houston playing in the Run and Shoot Offense, but could not transfer that success to the pros even though the Lions also ran a version of that offense. Andre lacked touch on his passes and had trouble learning a pro offense. He later played in Canada, also as a backup, and then tried NFL Europe for a year. Ware is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
Dewey Warren
CIN 1968
The Bengals selected the Swamp Rat out of Tennessee in the sixth round of their very first draft in 1968, and Warren ended up as Cincinnati’s first starting quarterback when John Stofa was hurt in the preseason. Dewey himself got hurt and was replaced by Stofa the next week. Warren started one game in each month of the season from September through December and lost them all. He played some semipro football and then went into college coaching. When LaVell Edwards was hired at BYU, he hired Warren to install the passing offense that the Cougars are still using today. After two years at BYU, Dewey went into broadcasting back in Tennessee.
Bob Waters
SFF 1960-63
Drafted as a defensive back out of Presbyterian in the seventh round in 1960, Waters became the second down quarterback in Red Hickey’s Shotgun Offense in 1961. When the Shotgun backfired, Waters was back on the bench. Bob got to start two games in 1963 after John Brodie broke his arm, but the 49ers picked up veteran Lamar McHan to start the last nine games of the year. Waters became a college coach and then contracted Lou Gehrig’s Disease, just as his teammates Matt Hazeltine and Gary Lewis did. Waters died at age 50 in 1988.
Norris Weese
DEN 1976-79
Weese followed Archie Manning at Ole Miss and led the Rebels to a 21-12 mark in three years, just a game-and-a-half under Manning’s performance. Norris was drafted in the fourth round by the Rams but signed with the WFL instead. When that league collapsed, Weese joined the Broncos as a punter and stayed four years as backup quarterback. Norris was a running quarterback with a suspect arm, but led the Broncos to their only points in Super Bowl XII after the meltdown of starter Craig Morton. Weese died of spinal cancer in 1995 at the age of 43.
Erik Wilhelm
CIN 1989-91, 1993-94, 1996
Cincinnati selected this lefthander from Oregon State in the third round, and he stuck around for eight years, mostly as a third quarterback behind fellow lefty Boomer Esiason for much of the time. In Wilhelm’s only start in 1991, the Bengals lost to the Oilers 35-3, and Erik completed 12 of 14 passes for 106 yards and two interceptions. He also played Arena Football.
Bob Williams
CHI 1951-52, 1955
Bob Williams led Notre Dame to the national championship in 1949 and then was the second overall pick in the 1951 NFL draft. On the Bears, Bob joined fellow Fighting Irish quarterback Johnny Lujack, but he never approached Lujack’s level of play in the pros. Williams returned to his native Baltimore in a 1953 trade for Dick Barwegan, but never played for the Colts. Williams returned for a second unsuccessful stint with the Bears in 1955 and was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988.
Peter Tom Willis
CHI 1990-93
A third round draft pick out of Florida State, Willis excited Bears fans in his first two seasons when he completed 20 of 31 passes for 277 yards in limited play. Given a more extensive look in 1992 and 1993, P.T. fell on his face. In his final NFL start, Willis threw three interceptions and fumbled in a 13-3 loss to Denver. P.T. tried Arena Football before returning to FSU as a broadcaster. In the past year, his alma mater fired him for being too critical of the coaching staff.
Eddie Wilson
KCC 1962-64 NEP 1965
Wilson was drafted out of Arizona by the NFL Lions (second round), the AFL Texans (third round) and the CFL Alouettes. He signed with Dallas and then the team picked up Len Dawson, which limited Eddie to a punter/backup quarterback. After Pete Beathard took over as the Chiefs’ backup, Kansas City traded Wilson to the Patriots for a second round pick. The Patriots let Eddie go to the Dolphins in the 1966 expansion draft, but he hurt his knee playing softball and retired. Eddie later served as the quarterbacks coach in Kansas City and as a college assistant coach. He is the only quarterback with two ties and no wins or losses as a starter.
George Wilson Jr.
MIA 1966
Wilson was drafted out of Xavier in the 20th round by the Lions in 1965 shortly before the team fired his father as coach. He tried out for Buffalo and the next year caught on with the expansion Dolphins coached by his father. The injury problems and incompetence of quarterbacks Dick Wood and Rick Norton gave George, the team punter, a shot to start in October and Wilson led Miami to its first ever win over Denver on October 16, 1966. He only completed 41% of his passes and threw just five touchdowns to 10 interceptions, though, and the Dolphins traded him to Denver with Cookie Gilchrist during training camp in 1967. One week later, the Broncos cut Wilson. He later played briefly in the CFL.
John Witkowski
DET 1984, 1988
The Columbia Lions went 3-25-1 during Witkowski’s time in college, but the prolific passer was still named the Ivy League Player of the Year as a junior. In fact, his last start for the team began the Lions’ 44-game losing streak in the 1980s. John was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the sixth round and got to start one game as a rookie in 1984. He wouldn’t appear in another NFL game for four years, but bounced around the practice squad. He also played in the Arena League and in Europe.
Gary Wood

NYG 1964-66, 1968-69

NOS 1967

Drafted as a defensive back out of Cornell where he was a teammate of Pete Gogolak, Gary Wood was a slight, weak armed scrambler who won his first start in 1964 despite not completing a pass all day. An injured Y.A. Tittle drove the Giants to three scores in the second half that day. The winning score came with 39 seconds left when Tittle was knocked out of the game on third and goal from the one. Wood returned and ran the ball in on a rollout on fourth down. He was an Ivy League knockoff of Fran Tarkenton and lost his next eight starts over a three-year period. When the Giants let Wood go to the Saints in the 1967 expansion draft, they obtained the real Fran Tarkenton. Wood returned to New York as a backup in 1968 and 1969 and finished his career in the CFL. He died of a heart attack in 1994.
Sam Wyche

CIN 1968-70

WSH 1971-72 DET 1974

Cards 1976

Wyche was a smart but untalented quarterback who was clever enough to extend his NFL career over nine years. After learning under Paul Brown and Bill Walsh, Wyche embarked on his own 12-year coaching career, highlighted by driving the Bengals to the Super Bowl in 1988 when they lost to Walsh’s 49ers. Although he was no Walsh, Wyche did start the No Huddle Offense in 1984 with Cincinnati and was not afraid to be different. In 1989, he scolded Bengal fans who threw things on the field by telling them, “You don’t live in Cleveland; you live in Cincinnati.”
Spergon Wynn

CLE 2000

MIN 2001

Wynn transferred from the University of Minnesota to Southwest Texas State and selected in the sixth round by Cleveland, 16 picks ahead of Tom Brady. Wynn was mobile with a strong but inaccurate arm and was not ready for the NFL coming from his small school background. After throwing seven interceptions and fumbling five times in 10 appearances over two years, Spergon headed for Canada where he played as a backup for four years.
Tom Yewcic
NEP 1961-66
Yewcic led Michigan State to a victory in the 1953 Rose Bowl and, as a catcher, led the Spartans to the 1954 College World Series where he was the MVP of the tournament. After two years in the military, Tom signed with the Tigers and appeared in one game for three innings in the majors before spending four years in the minors. At 29, Yewcic signed with the Patriots as a passing punter and backed up Babe Parili for six years. He is the only player to play major league baseball and professional football at Fenway Park.
Jim Youel

WSH 1946-48

BOS 1948

During his college years, the well-travelled Youel played for Iowa and then the Great Lakes Naval Station during World War II. The Rams signed him in 1945, but traded him to Washington for guard Al Fiorentino later that year. He spent three years as Sammy Baugh’s backup, but when the Redskins drafted Harry Gilmer in 1948, they cut Youel and he signed with the Boston Yanks. Jim lost his only start with Boston early in October and was waived a couple weeks later to Detroit. Told to report to the Lions, Youel misunderstood and reported to the Eagles instead, missing the October 24th game. Youel then took a train to Detroit where he was informed that he had been sold to Los Angeles. Once again, Youel never played for the Rams and was back in Washington by year’s end. In the Redskins December 5th loss to the Rams, Youel was sacked on consecutive plays for 41 yards total. He completed just 34% of his passes.
Scott Zolak

NEP 1992-98

MIA 1999

The 6’5” Zolak was a fourth round pick out of Maryland by the Patriots and went 2-2 as a starter in New England’s abysmal 2-14 1992 season. Scott spent six years backing up Drew Bledsoe in New England before he ended his career playing behind Dan Marino in Miami. Zolak got to start one playoff game when Bledsoe was hurt in 1998 and lost to the Jaguars, completing 21 of 44 passes for 190 yards. In retirement, he has remained in the Boston area as a sports talk personality.




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Updated 8/20/09