Get in line: 5 QBs who deserve Hall of Fame as much as Tony Romo

The questions isn't whether Tony Romo belongs in Canton. It's why aren't these equally-accomplished, more-successful quarterbacks already there?

Get ready for five years of this … and that’s only if Tony Romo doesn’t jump at a quarterbackopeningand bolts the broadcast booth hejoined this week.

"This"is the debate over whether Romo should, and will, get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Some compelling argumentshave been made for him, and a few against him.

It's time, though, for a case to be made for quarterbacks who have been buried in the immediacy of the Romo news. In the rush to decide Romo's candidacy, which eligible quarterbacks are getting overlooked … and (to expand the theme of his instant leap into CBS’s No. 1 analyst gig) should they have to wait in line behind him to get into Canton?

Judge for yourselves. Just two years after a tragically long wait for Ken Stabler ended, these five quarterbacks deserve to be in the conversation as much as Romo — or more.

MORE: Romo's career deserves praise

Steve McNair

Pretty much everything Romo is praised for doing in his career, McNair did in his prime with the Oilers and Titans, and did it better.

He could throw (31,000-plus yards, comparable to Romo in a less-forgiving era for passers). He could run (fifth-most ever by a quarterback, with 3,590). He took a vicious beating and played through injuries most others wouldn't fathom. He dragged his often-flawed teams to the playoffs … and won playoff games, and got to a Super Bowl, and came painfully close to winning it. He was co-MVP in 2003.

If you’re arguing Romo, you'd better be arguing McNair, too.


Donovan McNabb

Not dissimilar to the McNair argument — particularly in that McNabb has been labeled as a loser, or at least a postseason underachiever, far more often than Romo. And McNabb famously played in five NFC title games and a Super Bowl.

As far as dangerous combinations of runners (3,459 yards, sixth-best for quarterbacks), passers (more than 3,000 yards ahead of Romo for his career) and overall playmakers, the real question should be whetherRomo belongs in the same conversation as McNabb, not the other way around.

McNabb is 0 for 1 in Hall of Fame votes; if Romo beats him to Canton ...

Jim Plunkett

No matter how much one points to his pedestrian overall numbers, particularly after going first overall to the then-lowly Patriots in 1971, onecannot take away the two Super Bowl wins with the Raiders in the ‘80s. He was the MVP of the 1981 game against the Eagles.

Plunkett is at the epicenter of the debate over exactly how much winning should be weighed. Romo, in a sense, represented the other side of that debate. When Eli Manning’s time comes, he’ll be plunged right into the middle of it, too.

Ken Anderson

He wasn’t even fully appreciated in his heyday in the 1970s and ‘80s, although he was respected league-wide. He mastered the Bill Walsh-built West Coast offense before Walsh actually took it to the West Coast and ran it with Joe Montana.

He took the 1981 Bengals to the Super Bowl against those 49ersand lost,but he was the league MVP, the first-team All-Pro quarterbackandoffensive player of the year. He finished his 16-year career with the sixth-most passing yards in NFL history. And outside of Cincinnati, he's almost forgotten.

Phil Simms

Seriously, this is not an ironic pick, afterhaving lost his broadcast job to Romo. Simms has always been a difficult borderline Hall argument.

His Super Bowl performance for the Giants against the Broncos after the 1986 season is still one of the greatest ever (22 for 25 passing, 268 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions). He was league MVP that season. His toughness also couldn’t be questioned — again, in an era less-protective for quarterbacks.

His career paralleled Montana, Marino and Kelly, which eclipsed a lot of very good quarterbacks. But it’s hard to say his career didn’t compare favorably to that of Romo.


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