If Troy Aikman Is a Hall of Famer, Then So Is McNabb

Written By Bob Cunningham On Thursday, February 18, 2010

Could McNabb actually be better than Troy Aikman?


Let's get this out of the way right off the bat: McNabb has not won three Super Bowls, nor has he even been to three Super Bowls. However, does anyone sincerely believe that McNabb has ever had half the talent that Aikman had?

Aikman spent his entire career throwing to Michael Irvin and handing off to Emmitt Smith, both of whom are in the Hall of Fame (Smith will be inducted in August). McNabb spent his career throwing to James Thrash and handing off to Brian Westbrook. Westbrook has always been a good player, but not nearly the running back Smith was.

Then there's Thrash. To even start comparing him to Michael Irvin would be an insult to Irvin's spectacular career. And yes, my skin is crawling with all the Cowboy-love I just handed out.

But anyway, let's compare these two quarterbacks by the numbers.


Troy Aikman

In 165 games started (1989-2000), Aikman threw for 32,942 yards, 165 touchdowns, 141 interceptions, completed 61.5 percent of his passes, had a quarterback rating of 81.6, and a win percentage of .569 (94-71).

Aikman was also a six-time Pro Bowler.

Aikman played on one of the best teams the league has ever seen. The Cowboys were the team of the 90's on their way to winning three Super Bowls, all with Aikman at the helm. He, along with Smith and Irvin, created one of the most talented offenses since the combination of Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, and Roger Craig in the 80's.

Aikman's best season came in 1992 when he threw for nearly 3,500 yards with 23 touchdowns to 14 interceptions, completed nearly 64 percent of his passes, and finished with a quarterback rating of 89.5.

He capped off the regular season with a 13-3 mark and ended the season with a dominating 52-17 Super Bowl victory over the Buffalo Bills. Aikman was named the MVP of that game after completing 22 of his 30 passes for 273 yards and four touchdowns.



Donovan McNabb

In 142 games started (1999-2009), McNabb has thrown for 32,873 yards, 216 touchdowns, 100 interceptions, completed 59 percent of his passes, has a quarterback rating of 86.5, and has a win percentage of .633 (90-46-1).

McNabb is a six-time Pro Bowler.

McNabb has led one of the most, let's say, interesting careers of any quarterback in recent memory. He has led his team to five NFC Championship games, one Super Bowl appearance, and four division titles. McNabb accomplished everything with only two notable weapons -- Brian Westbrook and Terrell Owens. Owens was an Eagle for only one and half seasons.

McNabb's best season came in 2004 when he became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 30 touchdowns and less than 10 interceptions (31 touchdowns to eight picks). Along the way, McNabb completed 64 percent of his passes and threw for 3,875 for a 104.7 quarterback rating.

He capped off the regular season with a 13-3 mark and ended up in the Super Bowl where he and the Eagles fell to the New England Patriots 24-21. This gave the Patriots their third Super Bowl in four years.

McNabb threw for 357 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions while being sacked four times. He was under duress all game long and Brian Westbrook gave the Eagles no running game to speak of with only 44 yards on the ground.


Comparison

McNabb bests Aikman in touchdowns thrown (216 compared to 165), interceptions thrown (100 compared to 141), quarterback rating (86.5 compared to 81.6), win percentage (.633 to .569), and even has the added facet of being able to run -- 3,249 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns to Aikman's 1,016 and nine touchdowns.

McNabb also has one season with a 100+ quarterback rating to Aikman's zero, has five seasons of over 20 touchdowns -- including one season of over 30 -- six seasons with less than 10 interceptions compared to Aikman's three, and, despite the talk of McNabb's injury problems, has played in four complete seasons while Aikman accomplished that feat only three times.

Aikman also threw more picks than touchdowns four times in his career. McNabb has never even come close, outside of his rookie season, to committing such a cardinal sin for quarterbacks.

Aikman bests McNabb in completion percentage (61.5 to 59), passing yards (69 more than McNabb), and obviously has the rings that McNabb so desires.

Let's also not forget, however, that Aikman played 12 years in this league, and McNabb is only entering his 12th with no sign of slowing down. In fact, over the past three seasons, McNabb has thrown for more than 20 touchdowns twice, has completed over 60 percent of his passes, and just last season has a quarterback rating of more than 90.

And I know what everyone is thinking: "That's all well and good, but Aikman has three rings compared to McNabb's big fat freakin' goose-egg."

However, as I said before, I think we can all agree that Aikman played on the superior teams with superior talent. It was McNabb who made James Thrash and Todd Pinkston look like viable starting options -- can Aikman really say he made Michael Irvin better?

And to anyone who thinks McNabb has thrown substantially more than Aikman, which would explain his more impressive passing numbers, McNabb has only thrown the ball 31 times more than Aikman (4,746 to 4,715).


Conclusion

Even with a better running game and a Hall of Fame receiver, Aikman didn't put up the kind of numbers that McNabb has with an extra season, 23 games, and only 31 passing attempts less than McNabb.

McNabb also has thrown for 51 more touchdowns and 41 fewer interceptions, which leads me to my conclusion that Donovan McNabb is a better quarterback than Hall of Fame Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman.

It's not being a homer, and it's without bias. It's simply looking at the numbers and the situations in which both men played. Aikman had, without a doubt, the better supporting cast while McNabb has largely made gold from garbage.

He doesn't have the rings, but again, that goes back to the supporting cast. It almost came together for McNabb in '04 by adding Owens, but without the running game to go with it, it just wasn't enough. Not to mention the fact that Owens was the only reliable target McNabb had and he made it through the playoffs without him.

The rings pushed Aikman into the status of sure-fire Hall of Famer, but I don't think the lack of a ring should preclude McNabb. Of course, he does have time to go after the ring, and if he gets it, putting him in the Hall should be a no-brainer.

It's my belief that were he to retire tomorrow that he should, one day, find himself in the Hall.

But with a ring, it shouldn't take him any more than 10 years after his retirement to have a bust next to the best quarterbacks the game has to offer.


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