Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Meaning of a Super Bowl Ring

Here's every NFL quarterback who has a Super Bowl ring:
4:  Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana
3:  Troy Aikman, Tom Brady
2:  John Elway, Bob Griese, Jim Plunkett, Ben Roethlisberger, Bart Starr, Roger Staubach
1:  Doug Williams, Len Dawson, Trent Dilfer, Jeff Hostetler, Brad Johnson, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Earl Morrall, Joe Namath, Brett Favre, Jim McMahon, Mark Rypien, Phil Simms, Ken Stabler, Joe Theismann, Kurt Warner, Steve Young

I bring this up because the Super Bowl ring is often offered as something that makes a quarterback's career -- or, in the case of Dan Marino, diminishes his career's achievements.

But looking at the list above, a Super Bowl ring has only made a difference for a handful of those signal-callers.

  • It made Joe Namath a legend and put him into the Hall of Fame.
  • It ended the racist myth that an African American could not play quarterback, thanks to Doug Williams.
  • It put Joe Montana into the conversation of greatest quarterbacks of all time.
  • It allowed a young Tom Brady to enter that same conversation.
  • It got the monkey off the back of John Elway.

That's it.

Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana are not equals.  Troy Aikman and Tom Brady are not equals.  Ben Roethlisberger and Roger Staubach are not equals.  Jeff Hostetler and Len Dawson are not equals.  Jim McMahon and Peyton Manning are not equals.

Fran Tarkenton and Jim Kelly never won a Super Bowl, despite multiple tries.  They're better than Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson.  Warren Moon never went to a Super Bowl and Mark Rypien has.

Here's what having a Super Bowl ring means:  You won the NFL Championship.  Period.

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