NCAA FB

CFN: 100 Best - No. 43 John Elway

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Some were amazing players, some revolutionized their positions, some were legends, and some we just think were truly great. Yes, there was a bias towards players who played in the bigger conferences and against the biggest teams, but we also give a nod to the best who weren't in the spotlight as well. You can consider this the list of the college football careers as we give high marks to the legends.

How do you possibly pick an offensive lineman over a quarterback? It's tough, but our friends at the CollegeFootballNews.com we tried to make the call in regards to how good of a player they were without necessarily giving more credit to one position over another. Think of it this way, if you could take one running back, who would you take? You couldn't go wrong with Walker, Dorsett, Williams, Simpson, Dayne or about 20 other backs. Now if you had to pick one center, who would you go with? There are very few who stand out.

No. 43: John Elway, QB - Stanford 1979-1982

He never went to a bowl game and lost more college games than he won. He didn't win a Heisman Trophy and wasn't within 75 miles of a national championship. So on our list of players where we put the highest emphasis on winning, especially for quarterbacks, how did John Elway make the list over other amazing quarterbacks and how did he get up on the list so high? He was a superstar of the highest magnitude, even in college. As the son of a football coach, Elway combined the football smarts instilled by his father and otherworld athletic ability on the gridiron. On the baseball diamond he was also a high school legend and could've gone anywhere on a baseball scholarship alone. His father, Jack, was the head coach at San Jose State, but when it was time for John to choose a school, the high-school legend chose Stanford. The arm: At 6-3 and 212 pounds, Elway was the perfect size, had 4.7 speed and an arm like no one had ever seen before. As a star college baseball player, he could throw a 92 mile per hour fastball. He could throw a football 85 yards and with a flick of his wrist, he could put the ball wherever he wanted to on the move. He could throw the ball better on the run than most college football quarterbacks could standing still. He was known for his toughness, smarts and ability. In other words, he was the total package for a college football quarterback. If he had played for a Notre Dame or more prominent team that had the talent to compete for a national title, he would've been higher on our list. Unfair as it may be, on our list, total career achievements count. The baseball player: Forget about Drew Henson, Elway was the one George Steinbenner truly wanted to wear the Yankee pinstripes. After two years with the Cardinal baseball team, he spent his summers playing for the Yankees. Elway batted .321 at Stanford and with his arm, he could've played any position in the outfield. Following his college career, he had to make a tough decision between baseball and football and as good as he was as a pro football player, some still think he would've been as successful in baseball after seeing him go .361 with 9 home runs and 50 RBIs in 49 games as a sophomore. The big games: Against No. 1 ranked Washington in 1982, Elway pulled off the upset beating the Huskies for the first time in his career in the 43-31 win knocking UW out of the national title hunt. That would be the last win of Elway's college career as he closed out with three straight losses including a memorable one against Cal. While everyone remembers the 1982, 25-20 Cal win because of the amazing ending, people forget what led to the big play. Elway, who went 25 of 39 for 330 yards and two touchdowns, led the Cardinals down the field on a classic drive culminating in a Mark Harmon 35-yard field goal for a 20-19 lead and what looked like Elway's first trip to a bowl game. It never happened. The record holder: With great college quarterbacks like Jim Plunkett, Steve Dils and Steve Stenstrom in the Stanford record books, Elway still holds the school record for touchdown passes with 77. Before Stenstrom came along and took away some of his records, Elway held the lead in passing yards with 9,349. His NFL career: After being drafted No. 1 overall by the Baltimore Colts, Elway demanded a trade. After being dealt to Denver, Elway became, arguably, the greatest quarterback of all-time leading three totally average Bronco teams to Super Bowl losses. He finally won two Super Bowls in the twilight of his career and finished as the NFL's all-time winningest quarterback. Honors: College Football Hall of Fame - 2000, 2nd place in Heisman Trophy voting - 1982, Consensus All-American - 1982, All-Pac 10 - 1980 & 1982.

  • Tagged: Stanford, Washington, San Jose State, Notre Dame

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