Age-corrected rankings of best in NFL, NBA

Using formulas** designed as comprehensive measures of overall performance, Yale professor Ray Fair’s calculations allowed for age-corrected* rankings of the top quarterbacks in the NFL and players in the NBA. Not surprisingly, Tom Brady (second among quarterbacks) and Larry Bird (third among forwards) finished high on the lists.


The top 10 quarterbacks, based on 55 players who started at least 10 games in at least eight seasons from 1960 to present.

1. Peyton Manning


2. Tom Brady

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3. Drew Brees

4. Ben Roethlisberger

5. Dan Marino

6. Brett Favre


7. Carson Palmer

8. Warren Moon

9. Eli Manning

10. John Elway


The top 10 players by position, based on players who played 50 or more games in eight or more seasons from the 1977-78 season to present.


198 players met sample requirements


1. Magic Johnson

2. Michael Jordan

3. John Stockton

4. Jason Kidd

5. Clyde Drexler

6. Fat Lever

7. Gary Payton

8. Andre Iguodala

9. Kobe Bryant

10. Steve Nash


216 players met sample requirements

1. Karl Malone

2. Charles Barkley

3. Larry Bird

4. Kevin Garnett

5. Tim Duncan

6. Dennis Rodman

7. LeBron James

8. Julius Erving

9. Buck Williams

10. Dirk Nowitzki


77 players met sample requirements

1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

2. Dwight Howard

3. David Robinson

4. Robert Parish

5. Artis Gilmore

6. Hakeem Olajuwon

7. Moses Malone

8. Dikembe Mutombo

9. Shaquille O’Neal

10. Dan Issel

NOTES: The list compares all players included in Yale professor Ray Fair’s calculations. The calculations can be used to rank top performers irrespective of how long their careers lasted.

*Age corrected: If player A retires at 32 and player B retires at 37, player A’s lifetime average will be better than that of player B, other things being equal, because player B has played more below-peak years. The age-corrected ranking adjusts for this.

**NFL formula: Quarterback performance rating = total yards - 3 x passing attempts - 30 x interceptions. Quarterback performance ratings were calculated for every season of every sample-eligible quarterback.

**NBA formula: NBA performance ratings/win scores for all positions = all points + all rebounds + steals +(blocks/2) + (assists/2) - turnovers - all field goal attempts - (free throw attempts/2) - (personal fouls/2). NBA performance ratings/win scores were calculated for every season of every sample-eligible NBA player.