The first ever NFL Draft took place in 1936. That draft only consisted of 81 players. Four of those players would become Hall Of Famers. Since then the NFL has developed the draft into a giant event. Another one of the players selected in that draft, Paul “Bear” Bryant would later give up playing football to become a coach. He would become one of the greatest college football coaches ever while at the University of Alabama. There have been many great draft classes in the years since but they all pale in comparison to one in particular.
The 1983 NFL Draft took place on Arpil 26th and 27th of that year in New York City. It included twelves rounds and 335 players were selected. Over 30 of those players selected would go to the Pro Bowl. Eric Dickerson, Jim Kelly, John Elway, Dan Marino, Bruce Matthews, Darrell Green and Richard Dent who were all selected that day would later be inducted into the Hall Of Fame. Other than all of the things I have mentioned the draft is remembered for another reason, the Quarterbacks.
This was the best draft class of quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. It also holds the record for most quarterbacks selected in the first round with six. Three of those six would make it into the Hall Of Fame. The standout quarterbacks of the class were by far John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.
John Elway (Getty Images)
John Elway was taken with the first overall pick by the Baltimore Colts. He was eventually traded before the season to Denver due to his unwillingness to play for the Colts head coach Frank Kush. During his career he established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the league. When his career was over he won two Super Bowl Championships and was inducted to the Hall Of Fame in 2004.
Jim Kelly (Getty Images)
With the fourteenth overall pick the Buffalo Bills selected Jim Kelly. Kelly played the season prior in the United States Football League after leaving the University Of Miami. Of the quarterbacks drafted that day Kelly made more Super Bowl appearances than any one else. Kelly lead the Buffalo Bills to the Super Bowl from 1990 through 1993. Unfortunately the Bills never won any of those Super Bowls. Nonetheless Kelly proved himself to be a great quarterback and was Inducted to the Hall Of Fame in 2002.
Dan Marino (Getty Images)
The final legendary quarterback taken in this draft was Dan Marino. He was projected to go early in the first round but fell back on a lot of teams boards due to reports of him using marijuana in college. The Miami Dolphins were willing to take a chance on this young man with a powerful arm and selected him with the twenty seventh overall pick. Marino played 17 season but only made one trip to the Super Bowl, the Dolphins lost that game to the San Fransisco 49ers. Marino did however finish career holding almost every quarterback record that existed. He was inducted into the Hall Of Fame in 2005.
An interesting note about this draft is all of the first round quarterbacks went to AFC teams. Also the three half Of Fame quarterbacks all played for only one team during their NFL career.
The Draft is such an intriguing event. Full of Pro Bowlers, Busts and Hall Of Famers. There will probably never be a quarterback class this good again. Some might argue that the 2012 class will stand the test of time but until it does the 1983 Draft will remain the best ever.
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Many modern football fans have never even heard the name Otto Graham. Decades before Bernie Kosar was taking the Browns through many playoff runs. Otto Graham was the best quarterback not only in Cleveland but in the NFL. Years before Jim Brown dominated teams, Otto Graham was dominating the league. Graham will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. He was the 1st and possibly the biggest Cleveland sports star ever.
Otto Graham goes for a pass in Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium. (Getty Images)
Otto Graham started his professional career in Cleveland during the 1946 season. At the time the Browns played in the All American Football Conference (AAFC). In that season Graham lead the Browns to their 1st Championship and the team finished with a 12-2 record. The winning did not stop there. The Browns went on to win the 1947, 1948 and 1949 AAFC Championship prior to entering the NFL in 1950. During his first 4 seasons he played in 54 games and had 86 TD’s and 10,085 yards passing in total. Many people considered the AAFC to be the minor leagues so to speak. The Browns were not expected to be as dominant in the NFL.
The critics were completely wrong with their assumption. Graham had almost the same numbers in the NFL as he did in the AAFC. Graham would play in 72 games in the NFL and have 88 TD’s and 13,499 yards passing. Graham and the Browns made the Championship game from 1950 to 1955. In total Graham led the Browns to 10 straight championship games with them winning 7 of them. The only years during this period where they did not win a championship was 1951, 1952 and 1953. Their playoff record was 9-3 during those 10 seasons.
Otto Graham retired after the 1955 season. He retired with 174 TD’s and 23,584 yards passing. In his career Graham was a 5 time Pro Bowler and was a 7 time First Team All Pro. He was one of the first inductees into the Hall Of Fame in 1965.
Otto Graham’s Plaque (Getty Images)
Otto Graham was able to accomplish something that will never happen again by leading his team to 10 straight championship games. The only other player to come close was Jim Kelly with the Buffalo Bills. The Bills made it to the Super Bowl from 1990-1994 but never won any of those games.
There are many names that are discussed when talking about who was the greatest quarterback ever. Names like Dan Marino, John Elway, Johnny Unitas and Tom Brady but none of those players achieved the success that Graham was able to do. The only argument that any one might have against Graham would be that the playoffs were shorter with less games when he played. The fact of the matter is he still won those titles and in both leagues. The only reason that most people do not consider him the best is because they don’t know anything about him or what he did during his career.
As long as the stats and film are around no one can deny his greatness. For such a short career by today’s standards he really made an impact. Otto Graham passed away in 2003. He left a legacy that will never be forgotten, he will live forever in the Hall Of Fame.
Posted in NFL, Sports History
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