By Joe Theismann
Special to ESPN.com
I think Joe Montana is the greatest quarterback to play during John Elway's era in the NFL because of his four Super Bowl championships. Like Elway, Montana won early and late in his career. He also won after returning from back and elbow surgeries.
I still gauge the success of a quarterback on the amount of championships you win, with maybe Dan Marino being the exception to the rule. In many ways, Elway has accomplished the same things as Montana, but the difference is Montana's four championship rings. Elway only has one.
The only reason the Broncos went to Super Bowls before Terrell Davis arrived was because of Elway. He was the single biggest factor; there's no question about that.
The quarterback position is the most dependent position in football. It depends on the system, the supporting cast of players, the coach, the defense and special teams. Just ask Jim Kelly, who went to four Super Bowls without winning, how much he depends on kickers. That's how important it is.
I'd have Montana at No. 1, then Elway and Marino. Montana had total and complete command of the game. He was so proficient and efficent at how he ran the 49ers offense.
It was sort of a shame to see Montana finish his career in Kansas City instead of San Francisco. But Joe Namath finished his career with the Rams. Johnny Unitas finished his career with the Chargers. Montana in Kansas City. But Namath will always be a Jet, Unitas will always be a Colt and Montana will always be a 49er.
Picking the best of all-time is one of the most arbitrary choices you can make. If you asked 10 people who they thought was the best quarterback, you might get five different answers. You might get Terry Bradshaw, Montana, Elway, Marino or Unitas. But I believe Montana is the best ever.