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Clayton's GOAT quarterback ranking: Tom Brady is No. 1

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The Tom Brady GOAT movie trailer (1:26)

If Tom Brady were to star in a movie about his quest to become the greatest NFL quarterback of all time, the trailer would look something like this. (1:26)

When Tom Brady and the New England Patriots came away with a last-second victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, I was ready to proclaim Brady the greatest quarterback of all time.

That win made him 4-2 in Super Bowls. Brady, Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw are the only quarterbacks to win four Super Bowl titles. Though Montana and Bradshaw both went undefeated in Super Bowls, I'm still giving Brady the No. 1 spot.

The fact that Brady is about to play in Super Bowl LI -- his seventh Super Bowl appearance -- is remarkable, especially after missing the first four games of the season because of his Deflategate suspension. On Sunday, Brady has a great chance to get his fifth Lombardi trophy and fourth Super Bowl MVP award. He's 183-52 as a starter in the regular season. His 24 playoff wins are the most ever.

And the amazing part is that no one can guess when he will stop. Brady, who will turn 40 before next season, would like to play four or five more years if his body can hold up. There is nothing in his game that shows a decline. He came out of the four-game suspension rested and focused. He threw 28 touchdowns passes and only two interceptions in 12 games. And he did it mostly without injured tight end Rob Gronkowski, who played only eight games and had just three touchdown catches.

Brady is 39, and his numbers are getting better, not worse. Over the past four years, his yards per attempt have increased from 6.9 in 2013 to 7.1 to 7.6 to 8.2 this season. His interceptions have dropped from 11 in 2013 to nine to seven to two. His passer rating has improved each year, and he's staying healthy.

So Brady is my pick for the GOAT. Here's the rest of my list of the top 15 quarterbacks in pro football history:

Note: An asterisk after a Super Bowl title denotes a Super Bowl MVP award, and I'm going by The Associated Press for the tally of regular-season MVPs.


2. Joe Montana

Regular-season record: 117-47 | Regular-season MVPs: 1989, 1990

Super Bowl titles: XVI*, XIX*, XXIII, XXIV*

San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh was ahead of his time. He helped turn a game fixed on running the football and playing stout defense into a sophisticated chess match in which receivers and pass-catching running backs ruled the day. Montana was the perfect quarterback to move the pieces. Montana won four Super Bowl rings -- and never threw an interception in those games -- and showed the NFL you can win championships through the air.

3. Peyton Manning

Regular-season record: 186-79 | Regular-season MVPs: 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2013

Super Bowl titles: XLI*, 50

Manning was the Johnny Unitas of his era. He mastered the fourth-quarter comeback, and the two-minute drive was his specialty. More than anything else, however, he came into the NFL in the late 1990s when quarterback play was down and turned the NFL into a quarterback-driven league. Though he didn't look great in his final year in 2015, Manning did enough in Super Bowl 50 to get his second Super Bowl ring in four trips and slip past Unitas into third place.

4. Johnny Unitas

Regular-season record: 118-63-4 | Regular-season MVPs: 1959, 1964, 1967

Super Bowl titles: V (also won NFL titles in 1958, 1959)

What Brady and Manning were doing in the 2000s, Unitas was doing in the 1950s and 1960s. Unitas mastered the fourth-quarter drive, marching his Baltimore Colts offenses up and down the field to mount comebacks and pick up great wins. With his crew cut and funny-looking shoes, Unitas was the ultimate field general.

5. Otto Graham

Regular-season record: 57-13-1 | Regular-season MVPs: 1951, 1953, 1955

NFL titles: 1950, 1954, 1955

A former running back in a wing-T offense, Graham was a great passer in the 1940s and 1950s when everyone else was running the ball. He guided the Cleveland Browns to four AAFC championships before they joined the NFL in 1950.

6. John Elway

Regular-season record: 148-82-1 | Regular-season MVPs: 1987

Super Bowl titles: XXXII, XXXIII*

Elway was perhaps the most talented of the great class of quarterbacks in the 1983 draft. He was so good that he would take above-average Denver Broncos teams to Super Bowls, even though it took him 15 years to get his first Super Bowl title. He closed his career in the best way -- back-to-back titles.

7. Brett Favre

Regular-season record: 186-112 | Regular-season MVPs: 1995, 1996, 1997

Super Bowl titles: XXXI

A Green Bay Packers team doctor failed Favre on a physical when the Packers traded for him, and then he became the iron man of the sport, starting an NFL-record 297 straight regular-season games. He was a gunslinger who was willing to take chances -- but they didn't always turn out well, as he's the NFL's career leader in interceptions (336).

8. Dan Marino

Regular-season record: 147-93 | Regular-season MVPs: 1984

Marino had one of the best arms in the history of the league. His release was so fast that defenses had trouble sacking him. Unfortunately, Marino didn't have enough of a running game behind him to get to more than one Super Bowl. For 17 years, though, he wowed the NFL.

9. Terry Bradshaw

Regular-season record: 107-51 | Regular-season MVPs: 1978

Super Bowl titles: IX, X, XIII*, XIV*

The Steelers had the Steel Curtain defense, but Bradshaw was the closer for their dynasty. He always came through in the playoffs, helping Pittsburgh win four titles in six years. As the Curtain started slowing down in its final years, Bradshaw got stronger and helped win games with the offense.

10. Aaron Rodgers

Regular-season record: 90-45 | Regular-season MVPs: 2011, 2014

Super Bowl titles: XLV*

Rodgers has a rifle for an arm. Over the past year, he hit on three Hail Mary throws. Incredible. His third-and-20 pass to Jared Cook in the fourth quarter of the 2016 NFC divisional-round game against Dallas was one of the greatest throws in playoff history. It's a shame he has only one Super Bowl ring, but he's only 33 years old.

11. Bart Starr

Regular-season record: 94-57-6 | Regular-season MVPs: 1966

Super Bowl titles: I*, II* (also won NFL titles in 1961, 1962, 1965)

Starr was the perfect leader and quarterback for Vince Lombardi's dynasty with the Packers. Lombardi was a no-nonsense coach who won with a running offense and great execution. Starr was the field general who made plays down the stretch in big games.

12. Steve Young

Regular-season record: 94-49 | Regular-season MVPs: 1992, 1994

Super Bowl titles: XXIII, XXIV, XXIX* (Young backed up Montana in the first two)

The 49ers made the move from Montana to Young and stayed at the dynasty level. Young was much different from Montana -- he was more of a running quarterback who evolved into one of the most efficient QBs in NFL history. His quarterback rating was well over 100 in six of his final nine seasons.

13. Jim Kelly

Regular-season record: 101-59

Former Penn State coach Joe Paterno wanted Kelly to play linebacker for the Nittany Lions. It's a good thing Kelly went to Miami (Florida) to play quarterback. Kelly, who never won a regular-season MVP, was one of the league's toughest signal-callers. His brain moved much faster than his legs. He ran the Bills' no-huddle K-Gun offense, which was several years ahead of the rest of the NFL, and went to four consecutive Super Bowls from 1990 to 1993.

14. Roger Staubach

Regular-season record: 85-29 | Super Bowl titles: VI*, XII

After Staubach took over the Cowboys' job in 1971, they were annual championship contenders. He led the league in passer rating four times. He makes this list over fellow Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman, whom I have just outside the top 15.

15. Fran Tarkenton

Regular-season record: 124-109-6 | Regular-season MVPs: 1975

Tarkenton was the ultimate running quarterback. He rushed for 3,674 yards in his 18-year career, and his scrambling ability made him one of the most exciting quarterbacks to ever play the game. He was only 6-0 and 190 pounds, but his escapability made him stand tall among the league's best signal-callers.