In 1970, the professional football landscape changed forever. The American Football League, the darlings of the 1960's, had forced a merger with the mighty NFL and the two leagues combined to form the modern National Football League. The AFL brought with it a stable of proven and talented quarterbacks. The NFL suddenly was blessed with quarterbacking talent unheard of in pro football history. The AFL quarterbacks had fought viciously for recognition in the early days of that league's history. They had been hardened by the evolution of the league, negative media attention that was slanted in favor of the established older league and public opinion, which had often labeled them as less talented than their NFL counterparts. In short, these AFL newcomers had something to prove.


The merger went surprisingly smoothly and fans were amazed by the newly developing rivalries and the bevy of talent. It was the twilight years for quarterbacks like John Unitas, Len Dawson and John Hadl. New to the scene were young talent like Terry Bradshaw and Bob Griese. The old and the new came together to take fans of the early 1970's to new heights. Pro Quarterback magazine examined the starting quarterbacks of 1971 in a special issue published in their Super Bowl special of 1971. It has been recreated here. And what a difference a year made as many of the older greats began to age and a new breed began to arise. Click here to see the starting quarterbacks of 1972.


Professional football's quarterbacks face tremendous pressure. The nature of their position dictate that they are franchise players. Or, at least that should be the case. Some qb's live up to the expectation. Some are just footnotes in history. Some of the all-time greats have come out of nowhere, being low draft choices from unheralded schools who impacted the league in unexpected ways.


Enjoy a stroll back in time to the 1971 season and take a look at the starters for the years  1950 , 1980 , 2001, or 2014, as well. Also, view the starting quarterbacks from the inaugural seasons of the WFL and USFL.