Quarterbacks — whether we like it or not — are judged by Super Bowl wins.
Dan Marino is known as the best quarterback to never win a Super Bowl. Dan Fouts, Jim Kelly and Warren Moon also wear a scarlet zero on their gold Hall of Fame jackets.
John Elway‘s career was not deemed complete until he he finally won the big one.
So why is former Raiders QB Jim Plunkett not celebrated as a two-time Super Bowl winner?
Al Davis certainly would like to know. The Raiders’ owner opened Hue Jackson‘s introductory press conference Tuesday by giving a plea for more recognition for Plunkett. Davis suggested that Plunkett did more than Elway (by virtue of Plunkett’s 1970 Heisman Trophy award while at Stanford) and pointed out that his guy won more titles than recently-retired QB Brett Favre.
And Davis did not even touch on his cultural impact as the only Hispanic quarterback to win a Super Bowl.
So that begs the question: Where is Plunkett’s recognition?
Critics will point out that Plunkett never threw for more than 3,000 yards in a season, although such numbers are skewed by the modern evolution of passing offenses and NFL seasons increasing from 14 to 16 games. Besides, that requirement certainly didn’t keep Dolphins QB Bob Griese from the Hall of Fame.
Too bad Plunkett hasn’t landed a sweet national broadcasting gig (although he does call Raiders preseason games locally).
Plunkett was not the game’s most illustrious quarterback. But he personified Davis’ mantra of “Just win, baby.”
Especially when it mattered the most — in the postseason.
Quarterback Playoff record Pct. Super Bowl titles
Bart Starr 9-1 .900 2
Ben Roethlisberger 9-2 .818 2
Jim Plunkett 8-2 .800 2
Tom Brady 14-4 .778 3
Terry Bradshaw 14-5 .737 4
Plunkett’s shining moment came in 1980.
The Raiders’ famed rough-and-tumble image was fostered by a vagabond cast that Davis was able to recycle from other teams and lead into greatness. None greater than Plunkett, who battled injuries in five seasons with the Patriots after being the top overall selection in 1971 and a forgettable two-year stint with the 49ers that followed.
Plunkett joined the Raiders in 1978 and toiled as a backup to Ken Stabler and, later, Dan Pastorini before taking over as the Raiders’ starter during the 1980 season. Plunkett won nine of 11 games and led the Raiders to the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Raiders knocked off the Oilers, Browns and Chargers before he engineered an upset of the Eagles in Super Bowl XV.
Plunkett threw for 261 yards and three touchdowns to win MVP honors. Not only were the Raiders the first wild-card team to win a Super Bowl, Plunkett joined Roger Staubach as the only player to win a Heisman Trophy and the Super Bowl MVP award (later joined by teammate Marcus Allen and the Packers’ Desmond Howard).
Plunkett, along with Allen, would lead the Raiders over the Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII, making Plunkett the only eligible quarterback to start and win multiple Super Bowls who is not enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Davis is right. When you look at the distinguished company he keeps, Plunkett does deserve more recognition for what he accomplished during his NFL career.