Elway vs. Bradshaw: By the Numbers

It’s August, it’s not yet fall, but summer is coming to a close and football season is just around the corner. What better way to celebrate by having a meaningless debate as to which hall of fame quarterback with multiple super bowls is better? Yes, it’s a tried and true pastime in sports culture to debate a subject that cannot be proven and nobody will convince an adversary otherwise. Who doesn’t love a good debate anyway?

Thus, I must lead with my conclusion and support it with stats and fats I have cherry-picked to support my hypothesis. That hypothesis? Terry Bradshaw is clearly the better QB between Elway and Bradshaw. Now, I know what you’re thinking, Elway is clearly better and at the very least they are at the same level. To that I have one word; NAY…and a bunch of other words and numbers to prove my case to follow.

Career Stats

Sure, the career numbers for Elway look better on the surface, but keep in mind Elway played two more seasons than Bradshaw. Bradshaw played 14 seasons compared to Elway’s 16. Bradshaw played in 168 games while Elway played in 234. Over their careers they both averaged alomst the exact same amount of touchdowns per game: Elway-1.28 Bradshaw-1.26. When Bradshaw began his career in 1970 the game was played differently and the passing game was not utilized the way it was in the 90’s and certainly not in the spread/RPO era of today. Bradshaw averaged 167 yards per game in the air while Elway averaged a certainly impressive 219 ypg.

At this point you’re surely rolling your eyes and likely closing the tab, wondering what poor life choices led you to read this useless drivel. To that I say, if you disregard Bradshaw and Elway’s first two seasons each Bradshaw actually had1.36 touchdowns per game while Elway had 1.32. Take that Mile High City! The 1970 Steelers also had a terrible defense.

Super Bowls

Sure, they both played in four SuperBowls, but Elway lost two and when the lights shined their brightest Terry Bradshaw delivered. Bradshaw was a perfect 4-0 in title games. As the leader of a team the QB must be cool under pressure. Bradshaw personified calm and coolness under pressure.

But What About Defense?

Both the Steel Curtain and the Orange Crush were vital elements of both Bradshaw and Elway’s teams. It would be unfair to say one was more dominant.

When looking back on these two legendary quarterbacks its impossible to deny their greatness. At the end of the day, people care most about titles. Bradshaw lead his team as perfectly as one could. I think history has shown that Bradshaw will be remembered for his pure talent and greatness. Elway could sling the pigskin, but if I had to choose one over the other I’d take Terry of Johnny boy any day.

Do you think I’m full of horse manure? Think I’m the next Bill James, creator of sabr metrics? Let me know what you think. Be honest, I’m tough, I’m a man and can handle criticism.

Like what you read? Want more?

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By: Dennis Burkett

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