We get so accustomed to seeing QBs on the field throwing the ball, every week, the second a lefty QB steps on the field, it instinctively piques the fans interest. Not always thinking they will be amazing, but because of the potential disaster we wait for, as if waiting for the players to throw their hands up in frustration to happen. Nothing against lefty QBs, but the game changes around them, when they stand in the backfield.
Southpaws haven’t had an overwhelmingly dynamic amount of influence on the NFL. I mean, obviously only like 10% of people are lefties, so the odds are, the chances of one of the lefties to become a QB in the NFL are very slim. A lefty puts a much different spin on the ball – receivers have to adjust to that. And it isn’t always easy, when probably 95% of the balls that someone has caught come with a North spin, having one sail it with a South spin changes things. And things like that can make teams a bit more reluctant to have a lefty QB slinging the ball around.
But, of course, there are exceptions, and some guys were monumentally successful as the best southpaws to play the game.
5. Michael Vick
Vick was an astonishing athlete, with a beast of an arm – and was really magnificent as a runner. He carried Atlanta and Philadelphia to the playoffs, and he made 4 Pro Bowls in 2002, 2004, 2005, and with Philly in 2010. But, he also had his issues actually throwing the ball, in seasons with at least 100 pass attempts, he completed 60% of his attempts just once. Expectations were high for Vick after the 2002 season, when he became the QB for Atlanta and was responsible for 24 total TDs – but he just never brought his game to the next level as a QB. Michael Vick rushed for over 400 yards in 6 seasons, and he retired with 6109 rushing yards, which is 82nd all time, over some impressive RBs like Jamal Anderson, Fred Jackson, and Chuck Foreman. He was not a great passing QB – if we are being honest – but he was still just so dangerous when on the field. Although he had some issues, he was still far better and productive than many other leftys to have played the game.
4. Ken Stabler
Ken Stabler was surrounded by great talent, in WR Cliff Branch, HoFer’s Fred Biletnikoff, and Dave Casper, which made him even that much better. He really only had 3 good seasons, when playing in Oakland, and once he went to other teams – he quickly became quite obviously irrelevant. With 8 seasons of 17 ints or more he was the epitome of the gunslinger mentality, he was notoriously wild – which included ignoring game plans and going rogue at times. Which, in a weird way, sits perfectly for the Raiders organization as the “villians” of football. But not always what is wanted from the team’s leader. He was a great winner at 66% in his career – but he did lack some consistency and didnt have great longevity. With just 5 seasons of completing 60% or more of his passes – that doesn scream awesome. But, holds almost all of the Raiders major career passing records, including TDs, and yards. So with that, he has to make the list due to his team success and his style.
3. Mark Brunell
Mark Brunell played for 17 years with respect and class, and he played until the age of 41. Even at 36 he was still completing 62% of his passes, when most QBs are watching the games from home, relaxing, he was still slinging it, and getting the job done. In his heyday – Brunell was a legit dual threat QB, who was an efficient passer with 4 seasons with a 89+ QB rating and was also an underrated runner. Brunell passed for 3000+ yards six times in his career. And he had a 4.4+ YPC avg seven times, with 7 seasons of 200 or more yards rushing. His career as a mainstream “star QB” was for about 4 seasons – but he also spent the vast majority of his years in football playing for an expansion team, where he was the face and the brand for years. Becoming the leading career QB for the Jags, Brunell was a good QB for more than a few seasons.
2. Boomer Esiason
Boomer was an NFL MVP in 1988, and tallied 247 career TD passes, along with almost 38k career passing yards, he also made it to 4 Pro Bowl selections. At 6-5, Boomer Esiason was big, and he quietly ranked among the top rushing QBs several times, Boomer was good at moving out of trouble when it came looking for him. He had a rifle of an arm, and his play made him one of the best QBs in football in the late 80’s. With 5 seasons with 24 or more TD passes, and sitting in the top tier of QBs at the time with other QBs out there like Joe Montana and Dan Marino playing, was impressive. He made big plays happen, when watching him as a kid, I always felt #7 was a scramble and toss away from beating my team on any Sunday. Boomer led his team to the SuperBowl vs Montana and the Niners, but “Joe Cool” did his thing and beat the Bengals, 20-16. No shame, as it seemed everyone had to get beaten by Joe in that era.
1. Steve Young
Young, as expected, was without a shadow of a doubt, was the best lefty to throw a pass in the NFL. Young dumped “the monkey on his back” – when he won Super Bowl XXIX and walked away with MVP honors, after going 24-36, with 325 YDs, and 6 TD passes. I clearly remember watching that game, and just thinking “wow.” Young was a 7 time Pro Bowler and 3 time All-Pro. He was the greatest dual threat in the history of football. He was an incredible passer with a 96.8 career rating, and 8 seasons of 101 rating or better. And he tallied 300 yards rushing 6 times, with 43 career TDs on the ground. He was the standard of QB for many years, after he finally got his chance to take over as the starting QB in San Fran. He showed what leftys could do. Imagine what his career numbers would have looked like if he played 3-4 more seasons as a starter? Young spent years backing up Joe Montana, his expectations were high and he delivered. Because of his gutsy play – eventually injuries forced Young’s retirement in 1999. Steve Young was a player with heart and great fun to watch play in his prime.