Johnny B Good, Drew B Better

Crunching the numbers on Johnny Unitas.

Derick E. Hingle / US Presswire | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Yesterday, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees broke one of the seemingly “untouchable” records in NFL history: Johnny Unitas’ mark of 47 consecutive games with a touchdown pass. It was the gridiron equivalent of Joe DiMaggio’s 56 consecutive game hitting streak, and it was also the last major record held by Unitas — once universally hailed as the greatest QB of all time. When Unitas retired in 1973, he was the standard against which all other quarterbacks were measured, a title he arguably held until Joe Montana hit the scene in the eighties. But it’s over the last fifteen years or so that Unitas’ legacy has been assaulted by a new generation of gun-slingers like Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. Just look at Unitas’ best numbers, both single season and career, when compared with the current record holders:

Malcolm Emmons / US Presswire | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Career Passer Rating

Johnny Unitas: 78.2

Aaron Rodgers: 104.1

Single Season Passer Rating

Johnny Unitas: 97.4 (1965)

Aaron Rodgers: 122.5 (2011)

Career Completion Percentage (min. 2,500 attempts):

Johnny Unitas: 54.6

Drew Brees: 65.94

Single Season Completion Percentage

Johnny Unitas: 54.6 (1967)

Drew Brees: 71.23 (2011)

Career Passing Yards

Johnny Unitas: 40,239

Brett Favre: 71,838

Single Season Passing Yards

Johnny Unitas: 3,481 (1963)

Drew Brees: 5,476 (2011)

Career Touchdowns

Johnny Unitas: 290

Brett Favre: 508

Single Season Touchdowns

Johnny Unitas: 32 (1959)

Tom Brady: 50 (2007)

Now, this isn’t exactly fair. Unitas played in a different era, with a 12-game regular season vs. the current 16-game slate. He was also clutch, durable, a role model and a winner. And just two years ago, NFL named him the sixth greatest football player of all-time, and the second best best quarterback, after Montana. But with this current crop of QBs laying waster to the record books, and making Johnny U’s numbers look downright pedestrian, will his greatness be forgotten?

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