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Remember when Joe Ferguson, Steve Grogan were top 50 all-time?

By Tim Graham

There are so many clich├ęd ways to illustrate how long it has been since X happened.

The price of gas. Who the president was. The No. 1 television show.

For the record: about $1.13, Bill Clinton and "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" the last time the Buffalo Bills went to the playoffs.

But those examples are yawners compared to this one.

When the Bills were a playoff team, Steve Grogan was considered one of the 50 greatest NFL quarterbacks of all-time. That's right. An above-average passer with a neck roll.

One of my favorite analysts, Scott Kacsmar, found a top 50 quarterbacks list produced by NFL Films before the 1998 season. The Bills' last playoff appearance was for the 1999 season.

Some eyebrow-raisers made the cut, including Grogan at No. 50.

Four Bills quarterbacks were there, but probably not the ones you'd expect.

Jim Kelly was 15th. Daryle Lamonica was 41st. Jack Kemp was 42nd. Joe Ferguson was 47th.

Eight percent of the list started for the Bills. How about that?

Drew Bledsoe, then with the New England Patriots, didn't appear. Neither did Randall Cunningham, Ken O'Brien, former MVPs Brian Sipe or Earl Morrall, Steve Bartkowski or Jim McMahon.

Lackawanna native Ron Jaworski was 48th.

Ferguson was popular in Buffalo and led the NFL with 25 touchdown passes in 1975. But he twice led the league in interceptions and finished his career with 196 TDs and 209 picks.

Ferguson's career record as a starter was 79-92. He won a single playoff game despite throwing four interceptions.

At the time of this list, Bledsoe was a three-time Pro Bowler who'd led the NFL in completions twice and yards once while taking the Patriots to the Super Bowl.

Kacsmar posted the list for a Bleacher Report column that put Joe Flacco into an all-time context after signing the richest contract in NFL history.

Kacsmar used the 1998 NFL Films list as his baseline, factored all quarterbacks since then, used analysis to reconfigure and added another 14 names.

Flacco checked in at No. 53 and Bledsoe at No. 60.

Kelly slid to No. 19, with Peyton Manning and Tom Brady slotted ahead of him. Lamonica went to 43rd. Jaworski dropped to 61st.

Ferguson and Kemp dropped off the list.

Rest assured, so did Grogan.


Daryle Lamonica | Drew Bledsoe | Jack Kemp | Jim Kelly | Pro Football Hall of Fame | Ron Jaworski
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |