Dead Ball Era career passer rating leaders

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Jul 01, 2008



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Our lists of all-time passer rating leaders are based upon a list compiled by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
 
The HOF list includes every quarterback with 1,500 passing attempts (the minimum needed to qualify for official NFL records). A total of 150 quarterbacks make the cut, from No. 1 Steve Young (96.81) to former NFL and AFL passer Frank Tripucka (51.18), at No. 150.
 
We took the Hall of Fame list and added the career years of every player on the list. (See our entire version of the list here.) This simple addition gives us an illuminating look into the history of pro football and the evolution of the passing game in particular. Simply note that, at the start of the 2008 season, 16 of the Top 20 passer-rating leaders were active in 2007. This statistical anomaly tells us that, thanks to a series of rules favoring offense, it's easier than ever to pass the ball in the NFL.
 
The bottom line is that it's unfair to compare passers from the Dead Ball Era against passers in today's Live Ball Era.
 
So we broke out from the full list of passer rating leaders, this list of Dead Ball Era passers, and this list here of passers whose careers spanned both the Dead Ball and Live Ball Eras. Separating out these lists allows us to better compare passers within the context of their eras.
 
Dead Ball Era (to 1977) passer rating leaders
 
Player
Career
Rating

 1

Sonny Jurgensen

   1957-74

82.62

2

Len Dawson

1957-75

82.56

3

Bart Starr

1956-71

80.47

4

Johnny Unitas

1956-73

78.2

5

Otto Graham

1946-55

78.17

6

Frank Ryan

1958-70

77.61

7

Norm Van Brocklin

1949-60

75.07

8

Sid Luckman

1939-50

75.01

9

Don Meredith

1960-68

74.84

10

Roman Gabriel

1962-77

74.29

11

Earl Morrall

1956-76

74.09

12

Y.A. Tittle

1946-64

73.65

13

Daryle Lamonica

1963-74

72.94

14

John Brodie

1957-73

72.27

15

Milt Plum

1957-69

72.22

16

Sammy Baugh

1937-52

72.21

17

Billy Wade

1954-68

72.19

18

Bill Nelsen

1963-72

70.25

19

Charley Johnson

1961-75

69.21

20

Charlie Conerly

1948-61

68.25

21

Tom Flores

1960-69

67.58

22

John Hadl

1962-77

67.41

23

Norm Snead

1961-76

65.54

24

Joe Namath

1965-77

65.46

25

Bobby Layne

1948-62

63.38

26

Ed Brown

1954-65

62.77

27

Bob Waterfield

1945-52

61.58

28

Eddie LeBaron

1952-63

61.43

29

George Blanda

1949-75

60.65

30

Babe Parilli

1952-69

59.59

31

Jack Kemp

1957-69

57.35

32

Tobin Rote

1950-66

56.79

33

Cotton Davidson

1954-69

54.88

34

Frank Tripucka

1949-63

52.18


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