Tom Brady's long been a sore subject for Bay Area NFL fans. Say his name to the Black Hole dwellers rooting for the Oakland Raiders and you'll probably hear two special words and an hour's worth of conspiracy theories. Say his name to San Francisco 49ers fans, and you get two distinct reactions:
1. How the hell did the Niners let him slip all the way until the sixth round? Dude rooted for us as a kid, he loved Joe Montana and everything! Weren't they scouting him in 1995?
2. He ain't Joe.
In the NFL, the Super Bowl matters. A lot. So Tom Brady isn't Joe Montana, even though they share the same chin.
Brady may not be the best Super Bowl quarterback in NFL history, but he is the best quarterback ever to play high school football in the Bay Area.
Serra High, you win again.
While Northern California isn't Pennsylvania -- where almost half of the elite quarterbacks who ever existed hail from -- there have been more than a few good quarterbacks who went to prom around here.
Trent Dilfer won a Super Bowl and went to Aptos High. That's the Bay Area, right? I went to UC Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz is right next to Aptos), and I felt like I was in the Bay Area because I could listen to KNBR and go to Giants games on weeknights without missing class the next day. Alright, maybe I'd miss class the next day ... but it wasn't the Giants' fault. I had a terrible alarm clock that constantly changed the time I set from "AM" to "PM." Come to think of it, all my alarm clocks seem to have that problem.
Ken Dorsey went to Miramonte (a high school that's clearly in the Bay Area -- the Bay Area where everyone is safe and swims competitively) and won a Heisman. He also played for the 49ers, but let's focus on that Heisman instead. It's much prettier than any of the ducks he threw to Arnaz Battle.
Both Dorsey and Dilfer had better pro careers than 99.99% of the quarterbacks who played high school football in the North Bay, South Bay, East Bay, Peninsula or The City. But if we're talking Top 5, they don't quite make this list.
Top 5 Quarterbacks From Bay Area High Schools
1. Tom Brady: Junípero Serra
Because of Gisele, Ugg Boots For Men, and the strange way the world treats its sports superstars these days, Brady's career accomplishments are almost overlooked. Okay, overlooked isn't the correct word, but his stubborn perfectionism, at least based on appearance, makes it easier (more fun?) to focus on Brady's few failures since he made the jump from Michigan Wolverines platoon-QB to future NFL Hall-of-Famer.
3-time Super Bowl winner, 2-time MVP, 2-time Super Bowl MVP. 14th in career passing yards, 4th in career passer rating, 5th in career passing touchdowns. Brady may not be perfect in Super Bowls, but he's a Top-10 all-time NFL QB.
2. Dan Fouts: Marin Catholic, St. Ignatius
He led the NFL in yards per game six times, and he's already in the Hall of Fame. Fouts wasn't as precise as Brady is now, but who was in the 1970s and '80s? He also gets points for working as a sports anchor for years and years. Can you imagine Alex Smith replacing Mark Ibanez after his career ends? Didn't think so.
3. John Brodie: Oakland Tech
Very good, very battered quarterback who many probably would put fourth on this list, behind this guy...
4. Jim Plunkett: William C. Overfelt, James Lick
Yes, Plunkett won two Super Bowls, and that's generally considered the way to judge quarterbacks. Until you bring up Dilfer, Jeff Hostetler, Mark Rypien or Brad Johnson, and you'd be the only person to bring those guys up. Nice going, conversation-killer.
The reasons why Brodie ranks slightly ahead of this South Bay product are statistical in nature. Brodie had more yards and TDs, a higher QB rating, a better TD/INT ratio and close to the same record (Brodie was 74-77-8, Plunkett went 72-72). Brodie had over 3,000 yards and 30 TDs in separate seasons, something Plunkett never did.
Plunkett went 8-4 in the playoffs, much better than Brodie's 1-4. But Plunkett was never 1st-team All-NFL, like Brodie was in 1970.
Anyone who's seen both guys play and thinks I'm full of it, feel free to let me know in the comments. I'm mostly basing these opinions off Pro Football Reference research and my mom's story about owning a Brodie doll as a little girl, so this isn't exactly NFL Films.
5. Jeff Garcia: Gilroy
Better than Trent Dilfer? You betcha! This jump-passing ginger had a much higher completion percentage than Dilfer, passed for 5,000 more yards, 48 more touchdowns, 46 fewer interceptions AND ran for more over twice the yards (2,140 to 853) and five times the TDs (26 to 5). As much credit as a quarterback should get for heading a Super Bowl winner, he should get at least half taken away when his team lets him go the next year because they'd rather have Elvis Grbac.
With Dilfer's performance in his six years post-Ravens (23 mediocre starts, including 6 inexplicable starts with the 49ers in 2007 after he'd long proved his uselessness), it's clear: Dilfer was a decent quarterback who was in the right place at the right time in 2000. Garcia was a very good quarterback who didn't have the good fortune of looking the part.