Tony Romo's retirement and the upcoming NFL Draft remind us that some of the best QBs to play the game didn't even get drafted. That includes two Hall of Famers.
So while this year's draft class is deep with quarterbacks, in 15 years we may be celebrating the career of some guy that no one believed in. And those stories are the best.
Bill StreicherBill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Tomczak signed with the Bears out of Ohio State and won a Super Bowl ring in his first season as a barely used backup. He made 31 starts in five more seasons in Chicago, winning his first 10 to set a record. He won the "Fog Bowl" game in the 1988 playoffs to lift the Bears into the NFC Championship Game.
Tomczak played seven seasons in Pittsburgh and saw his most action in 1996, starting 15 games and leading the Steelers to the playoffs and winning his first postseason start for them.
He didn't put up great numbers in his career, throwing for 88 TDs but 106 interceptions. However, he went 39-24 (including playoffs) as a starter in Chicago and Pittsburgh and played 15 seasons, even making five starts at age 37.
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Kramer was a surprise sensation in Detroit when Rodney Peete went down in 1991. He led the Lions to a 12-4 finish and their first playoff win since the 1950s.
The former NC State QB, who'd been a replacement player during the strike season and played in the CFL, made a total of just seven starts in the next two seasons before moving on to Chicago, where he battled for the starting job for most of five seasons.
In his best year, 1995, he passed for 3,838 yards and 29 TDs — both Bears records.
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Kitna's path to becoming the starting QB of his hometown Seahawks wasn't an easy one. Undrafted out of Central Washington, Kitna won a World Bowl in Europe before being signed by Seattle to back up Warren Moon.
He led the Seahawks to the playoffs in his first season as starter but lasted just one more year in Seattle before moving on to Cincinnati. Kitna started for the Bengals for three seasons, earning Comeback Player of the Year in 2003 while throwing for 3,591 yards and 26 TDs.
After stepping aside for Carson Palmer, Kitna moved on to Detroit, where he had his first two 4,000-yard seasons. Then he had one last hurrah in Dallas, replacing an injured Tony Romo for 10 games in 2010. The Cowboys were so impressed that they brought him out of retirement in 2013 to serve as a backup for the final game after Romo went down again.
Hart, undrafted out of Southern Illinois, signed with the Cardinals in 1966 and played 18 seasons for them. Hart had limited success in his first seven seasons as starter until Don Coryell was hired as coach. The Cardiac Cards won 10 or more games the next three seasons, with Hart leading 10 game-winning drives, and he made four straight Pro Bowls, however he failed to win in two trips to the playoffs. Hart played until he was 40 and ranks in the top 30 all-time in wins (87) and passing yards (34,665).
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Delhomme's journey began in his back yard at Southwestern Louisiana and took him to NFL Europe, where he backed up Kurt Warner before he got a shot with his hometown Saints.
Stuck behind Aaron Brooks and Jeff Blake, Delhomme signed with Carolina and replaced Rodney Peete at halftime of the 2003 season opener, then proceeded to rally the Panthers from down 17-0 to a win. Delhomme led a record eight game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or OT that season, as the upstart Panthers upset the Rams and Eagles in the playoffs to reach the Super Bowl, where they faced Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Delhomme threw for 323 yards and three TDs, but the Pats pulled it out on Adam Vinatieri's kick. Delhomme quarterbacked Carolina for six more seasons and led two more playoff runs but got no further than the NFC championship game. He was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2005.
In Romo, a three-time Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year at Eastern Illinois, the Cowboys found the franchise QB they'd been missing since Troy Aikman retired in 2000. Though Romo never won Super Bowls like Aikman, he won 78 games in 10 seasons as a starter and led four trips to the playoffs, earning Pro Bowl honors each time. Injuries robbed him of greater success, but Romo still retired with several passing records and the fourth-highest passer rating (97.1) in NFL history.
Tim HeitmanTim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Garcia replaced Steve Young as the 49ers' starting quarterback, and while that may have been a dream come true for the Northern California native, those were big shoes to fill for an undrafted QB out of San Jose State and the CFL.
Garcia had won a Grey Cup in Canada, but Young had won a Super Bowl — one of five Niners championships in 15 years — plus two MVP awards. Garcia didn't get the Niners back to the Big Game — in fact he won only one playoff game in five years — but he went to the Pro Bowl in three straight seasons throwing to Terrell Owens and became the first Niners QB with back-to-back seasons of 30 or more TD passes.
Garcia's career took a dive during a stretch in which he played for five teams in five years, but he took the Eagles to the playoffs in his first season in Philly and did the same the following year in Tampa, earning his fourth Pro Bowl nod. He finished his career in 2009 with a combined 41,979 yards and 272 TD passes.
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Krieg probably wasn't heavily scouted as Milton College, an NAIA school in Wisconsin that closed just two years after he left. But he scored a tryout with the Seahawks and ended up playing 12 seasons in Seattle, teaming with Steve Largent and Curt Warner to form the core of the 'Hawks offense in the 1980s.
Krieg won 70 games, was voted to three Pro Bowls and took the Seahawks to the playoffs four times. And when Seattle let him leave at age 34, he went to Kansas City and took the Chiefs to the playoffs, then helped Joe Montana do it again the following year. At age 36 he came off the bench to lead the Lions to the playoffs, and he played with three more teams until he was 40. Krieg finished among the all-time great QBs in wins (98), TD passes (261), passing yards (38,147) and completions (3,105).
Warner is arguably the greatest Cinderella story in NFL history. He went from stocking shelves at a grocery store to climbing the ladder of pro football, first in the Arena League and then Europe before finally making an NFL roster.
When he got a shot to start, he led the Rams to a stunning season and championship, earning MVP honors for both the 1999 regular season and the Super Bowl. He won another NFL MVP in 2001 and took "The Greatest Show on Turf" to another Super Bowl, then took the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl at the end of his career.
He retired with several records and among the all-time leading passers and was voted to the Hall of Fame this year.
AFP/Getty ImagesJOHN G. MABANGLO
Moon was the first undrafted quarterback voted into the Hall of Fame after a 23-year pro career that began in the CFL.
Moon, a rifle-armed QB from the University of Washington, won the Grey Cup five times in Canada and took home MVP honors twice.
He came to the NFL in 1984 and played 10 seasons in Houston, helping turn the Oilers into a winner and setting franchise records. He went to the Pro Bowl nine times, and with three teams, including at 41 years old.
His career numbers of 70,553 passing yards and 435 TD passes both have been eclipsed, but he still ranks in the top three all-time in both categories.