Everyone has an agenda (except me), particularly when it comes to ratings and rankings. Your team's drunken quarterback with a permanent hangover and a penchant for legal trouble is my team's average guy who plays hard and lives fast. Me? I'm unbiased, myself. And rather than simply create a huge list of this or that and leave it there, I'm going off the board to tell you who history's most overrated quarterback is.
Think quick. Who's it going to be? I can look at all sorts of other rankings out there and quickly draw trends. If a guy was overrated 20 years ago, chances are he's still overrated today. And chances are it'll be derived strictly from some anecdote or reference to some mystical ability whose existence has never been proven to exist. But time and time again, the most overrated quarterback finds his way onto lists where he has no business being. And this one's a bit of a curveball, but that simply proves that I'm right.
Now, there are a few that are inherently overrated. I believe Troy Aikman to be hopelessly overrated; ditto Joe Namath. Jim Plunkett and Joe Theismann are laughably overrated. Daryle Lamonica and Tobin Rote are criminally underrated. But none touches the most overrated.
The most overrated quarterback in pro football history is Archie Manning. Yeah, I know it's supposed to be impossible for a guy who barely cracks a top-50 list to be "overrated", and yet he's the most glaring example. If you've read some of my other stuff on this site, you're familiar with my Points Generated system and the joy that it brings. You're also keeping close tabs on my top-100 list to see where your favorite will be unveiled. And if you're waiting for Archie Manning, this is the only write-up he gets.
See, Archie benefits from what's commonly termed a "halo effect". Usually if someone dies or has their career prematurely ended, they get a huge boost in the mind and in the media as a result. There's something else that I call "the Namath Effect", which goes more closely with media attention to individuals whose actual play doesn't warrant it. Archie doesn't benefit from the former, and I can't really say the latter is in existence since the idea of him as a top-50 passer predates Peyton ever wearing orange and white, let alone the blue horseshoe.
The reason that Archie is dramatically overrated is because his actual play on the field doesn't warrant a top-50 spot, and the reasons given are only used for him and no one else. If I ask one thing, it's for consistency and fair treatment. And there simply is no reason for him to get a benefit that others in similar (or worse) situations don't get. The usual reasoning is "Those New Orleans/Minnesota/Houston teams were so bad, and Archie Manning would have been a Hall of Famer in any other situation". For one thing, no he wouldn't. For another, let's try this on for anyone else.
-- "If Neil Lomax hadn't had an arthritic hip and played on some horrifying Cardinals teams, he'd be a Hall of Famer" (this one may actually be true) -- "If Bernie Kosar hadn't played under Bill Belichick in Cleveland and been unjustly cut, he'd be a Hall of Famer" (I'm a Browns fan and don't believe this one) -- "If Rich Gannon had played well before age 32, he'd be on the road to Canton" -- "If Vinny Testaverde hadn't sucked for his first 12 years, he'd be cast in bronze someday soon"
And so on.
Archie Manning scored a grand total of five career points for production using my PG system. That puts him into a tie for 66th place all-time with (among others) Charley Johnson, Don Majkowski, Frank Sinkwich, Harry Newman, Jim Hart, Jim Zorn, Johnny Lujack, Ken O'Brien, Spec Sanders, and Lynn Dickey. Archie scored ZERO points for efficiency, which puts him into a tie for 144th place. I should also point out that Manning's production points came in 1972 and 1978, both of which can generously be termed "transition years" for the passing game. In both years, the great ones still playing were at the end of their careers (and playing poorly) and the next generation was at the beginning of their careers (and playing poorly). 1972's best passers were Greg Landry, Manning, Norm Snead, Mike Phipps, and a few others. Steve Spurrier actually performed far above average, as did Bob Berry. That's almost enough to make me dismiss the entire year, but I won't.
Taking Manning's career points and running them through the grinder that is "my formula", Archie Manning comes out with a career rank of 133rd. That ties him with Adrian Burk, Majkowski, Sinkwich, Wade Wilson, and Eric Hipple. What are the excuses for them? You never hear "Poor Majkowski; he was always injured and only had the one good year, but he could have been great. Let's put him in the top 50.", or "Eric Hipple, he could have been a legend if he'd played a lot better for a lot longer and not been on those Lions teams."
Archie Manning gets a pass that no one else does. Jim Hart is usually ranked anywhere from #40-75 because that's what his play over his career warrants; he doesn't get a 10-30 spot boost because the Cardinals bit big time during his career. Boomer Esiason is usually in the 30s because that's where his play warrants; he doesn't get a pass because he ended up with the Jets and had to devote an incredible amount of time to a seriously ill child. Tommy Thompson doesn't get a boost, and the guy played his entire career with one freakin' eye!
Archie is rated about 80 spots above where he should be based on some magical theoretical. The madness really should stop right here.