Hmmm... never having seen him on TV, let me consider Ken Anderson's case.
A 16-year career, all for the same team, 13 of which were as the primary starter at QB, in an era when the defense could take cheap shot after cheap shot almost without penalty. Plus one MVP, 2 all-pros, 4 pro bowls, 198 games played, 160 AV (120 weighted). 4 playoff appearances, one of which (his MVP year) was a run to the Super Bowl. Yeah, there are probably worse QB careers that have been elected to the Hall of Fame.
Of the 29 QBs in the HOF, Anderson's 32848 passing yards would rank 14th, his 206 TDs would rank 17th, and among the 17 HOF QBs who played entirely 1960+ and thus have full AV numbers, Anderson's 120 weighted AV would rank 10th, ahead of Warren Moon, Jim Kelly, Troy Aikman, Kurt Warner, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Namath, Bob Griese, and Roger Staubach. 15 of the 29 have fewer than his 13 years as a starter, his 4 Pro Bowls exceeds Terry Bradshaw's 3 and equals 3 others', and 13 have either 0 or 1 years as 1st-team All-Pro (Anderson has that 1 year) - even Elway, Moon, Staubach and Aikman each had zero*.
On the career AV leaderboard
, the highest AVs of eligible people who are not yet in the HOF are:
28. DE Jim "wrong way" Marshall**, 168
46. QB Ken Anderson**, 160 (finalist 1996, 1998, semifinalist 2023)
54. C Jeff Saturday, 156 (4x nominated 2020-2023)
59. WR Reggie Wayne
, 153 (finalist 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023)
77. QB John Hadl**, 146
80. G Jahri Evans, 145 (semifinalist 2023, in 1st year eligible)
83. DT Ron McDole**, 144
83. OT Jim Tyrer**
, 144 (finalist 1981)
86. OT Lomas Brown**, 143
94. QB Carson Palmer, 141
94. QB Vinny Testaverde, 141 (1x nominated 2016)
100. QB Drew Bledsoe, 139 (6x nominated 2012-2021)
100. OT Mike Kenn**, 139 (semifinalist 2015, 2016, 2017)
= PFR HOF Monitor score is above that of average HOFers at their position.
... and among the other MVP winners:
116. QB Boomer Esiason, 137. 1x AP1, 4x PB, 12x Starter, 3-2 in Playoffs (2 yrs)
150. QB Roman Gabriel, 130. 1x AP1, 4x PB, 11x Starter, 0-2 in Playoffs (2 yrs)
155. QB John Brodie, 129. 1x AP1 (3x MVP candidate), 2x PB, 11x Starter, 2-3 in Playoffs (3 yrs)
181. QB Steve McNair, 125. 0x AP1, 3x PB, 10x Starter, 5-5 in Playoffs (5 yrs) - 9x nominated 2013-2023
236. QB Rich Gannon, 118. 2x AP1, 4x PB, 8x Starter, 4-3 in Playoffs (6 yrs) - 2x nominated 2015 + 2018
(and N.B.: 11
. Philip Rivers, 218 AV. I think he's getting in, eventually.)
Anderson is the highest-AV eligible QB who isn't in the HOF, and I think the above makes the case that he'd be a pretty solid choice and probably deserves it. That he ran into the 49ers' buzzsaw in the pre-salary-cap era is not really a black mark on him. He is of course **senior committee eligible, and was twice a modern-era finalist (1996 and 1998), so if the senior committee is going to nominate and then elect the likes of Ken Stabler, I think it's only a matter of time before Anderson follows him.
The only other MVP winner on that list who should probably be in the conversation for election imo is Earl Morrall**, who won 3 rings with 2 different teams (at ages 36, 38 and 39; twice getting playoff games incl the 1970 Super Bowl in relief of Unitas and starting both AFC playoff games for the undefeated 1972 Dolphins), in a 21-year career that spanned many eras. I can't even make a squinting case for any of the others. There's a long list of probably-deserving candidates who don't even make the semifinalist list (Steve Wisniewski
, anyone?), so hard to see how any of the other MVP winners ever really get seriously considered.
Final note: Avg PFR HOFm score for QB HOFers
is 108, only exceeded (by not-yet-HOFers) by Brady, Rodgers and Brees. However, just
under that mark is indeed Matt Ryan at 106, followed by Roethlisberger at 100 and Rivers at 98. Leaving aside Mahomes, Wilson and Stafford (active), the next-up retired QB is Eli Manning at 85, but Ken Anderson follows with an 83. Boomer (68) and Theismann (66) are a lot farther from the standard. The only HOF QBs with a lower monitor number than that are Aikman (64) and Kelly (59). Point is, the stats say Matt Ryan had the 4th-most-HOF-worthy career of any QB not currently in the hall of fame, behind only Brady, Rodgers and Brees. That might come to mean something, as the years roll on and the narratives (and that one game
) cease holding as much sway in our minds.
* ...that's right, John Elway was MVP in 1987 but was 2nd-team all-pro, go figure. So was McNair in 2003.
** senior-committee eligible, i.e. 25+ years since playing career ended. Also note that we have lists of semifinalists only 2004-present, and the full nominated list only 2012-present; prior to 2004 we only know finalists.