Editors' pick: Originally published Feb. 5.
Making it to the Super Bowl can make an NFL quarterback rich, but winning one or even a couple can earn them enough to never have to run from 300-pound pass rushers again.
At a glance, being a quarterback in the National Football League doesn't look like the greatest way to build a financial legacy. You can get knocked around a lot if you aren't blessed with a solid offensive line, decent running back, sure-handed receivers or wealthy owner willing to give you all of the above. Even if you have all of those things, you aren't valued enough to be placed among the Top 10 highest paid athletes in the world, and you're lucky if you're one of the two who's among the Top 30.
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning will make $27 million this year in salary and endorsements and will still make $2 million less than Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer -- who's never made a conference championship, never mind a Super Bowl. Meanwhile, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton -- an endorsement machine -- hasn't been in the league long enough to rank among its top earning QBs.
However, as Manning well knows, getting that first Super Bowl ring can help reel in the sponsors and provide some leverage during contract talks -- even if your neck is turned into jelly by injury and your arm would underthrow receivers with a Nerf ball. NFL quarterbacks can use all the leverage they can get, as only five QBs in the history of the game have amassed a net worth of $100 million or more. Compare that to the 14 NBA players, 11 soccer players, six baseball players and six boxers who've done the same, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
With that website's help, we took a look at the wealthiest NFL quarterbacks of all time, pared them down to those who'd played in the Super Bowl and came up with the 10 wealthiest Super Bowl quarterbacks ever. Though there are some very familiar and predictable faces on it, the list is notable not only for its surprise inclusions, but for some of those who didn't make the cut:
10. Drew Bledsoe
Net worth: $48 million
Yes, we;re listing Drew Bledsoe, who made it to exactly one Super Bowl during his career, but may be just as famous for the Super Bowl he didn't play in when he was injured in 2001. Not Dan Marino (net worth $35 million), Steve Young ($40 million) or Fran Tarkenton ($40 million), but Bledsoe.
Why the surprise? Bledsoe didn't have a good night against the Green Bay Packers during Super Bowl XXXI in 1997. Four interceptions, a Desmond Howard runback touchdown and a 35-21 loss didn't look all that great. However, in the second game of the 2001 season, just after he'd signed a ten-year, $103 million contract, he was hit by New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis hard enough to shear a blood vessel in his chest. His replacement was a kid fresh out of the University of Michigan named Tom Brady. Though Bledsoe ended up scoring the game-winning touchdown in the AFC Championship game against the Steelers that season, it was all Brady from there. Bledsoe wrapped up his career with stints in Buffalo and Dallas before calling it quits after 2006. We'll hear from that Brady kid a bit later.
9. Drew Brees
Net worth: $55 million
That 2010 Super Bowl win over Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts and breaking Dan Marino's record for the most yards thrown in a season in 2011 almost make you forget that this wasn't Brees's first stop.
Nope, that was San Diego back in 2001. When the Chargers decided they'd rather go with Philip “Why Did Tom Brady Eat My Prime?” Rivers in the 2006 NFL Draft, Breese pretty much shoved it down their throats by passing for more than 5,000 yards four times, routinely flirting with a completion percentage near .700, making eight Pro Bowls, being named the NFL's offensive player of the year three times and, oh yes, outgunning Manning as Super Bowl MVP. Solid, solid move, Chargers.
8. Ben Roethlisberger
Net worth: $70 million
Well, the Super Bowl can give, but your own stupidity can take it all right back.
That $70 million total is actually fairly low for a quarterback who took his team to three Super Bowls in five years and won two of them -- in 2006 and 2009. However, a motorcycle accident in 2006 and sexual assault allegations in both 2008 and 2010 kept sponsors away and got him in trouble with the Rooney family. The eight-year, $102 million contract he signed with the Steelers in 2008 is still the richest in team history, but there's a reason it accounts for $46.4 million of the $48.9 million he made last year.
7. Joe Montana
Net worth: $80 million
A four-time Super Bowl champion with the San Francisco 49ers, a three-time Super Bowl MVP and the record holder for Super Bowl pass completions (83) and pass attempts (122) without throwing an interception, Montana is the face of what Super Bowl dominance can do for a career.
The fact that he's still featured in Papa John's commercials with J.J. Watt and Peyton Manning and still being offered a Super Bowl spokesman position with Mexico is incredible, considering he's likely spent more time tending a vineyard in his retirement than he did playing in the NFL. Eight Pro Bowls are lovely and all, but they don't quite have the same allure as a handful of hardware.
6. Eli Manning
Net worth: $80 million
Yep, that's right, Eli.
He plays in an enormous market. He's gone to the Super Bowl twice (in 2008 and 2012), outplayed Tom Brady and the Patriots twice and has twice come home with rings for his trouble. No, his career completion percentage isn't stellar and, yes, his interceptions give fans in the New York metro area agita. But given the quarterback carousel that's turned in D.C. and Philly during his tenure and what Tony Romo hasn't done in Dallas since Eli arrived in New York, it would be tough to argue they're better off without him. Oh, and companies like Citizen, Reebok and Nabisco love him, even if it's only to have him speed-lick Oreos with his brother against the Williams sisters.
5. Brett Favre
Net worth: $100 million
O.K., so maybe his career didn't end the way most fans would have pictured it.
That said, the unfortunate stint with the New York Jets aside and that playoff gaffe against the Saints in 2010 not withstanding, it was a one heck of a career. Going one for two in the Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers, going to the Pro Bowl 11 times, earning three NFL MVP nods and holding the NFL records for starts, wins and completions is a tremendous accomplishment -- especially for a player whose retirement was speculated about for a solid decade. All of the above earned him endorsements from Nike, Snapper, Remington, Sears, Prilosec, Sensodyne, MasterCard, Wrangler and Hyundai, as well as a cameo as Cameron Diaz's ex in There's Something About Mary. Favre got his final sendoff during a Lambeau Field ceremony last year, but nine figures are a nice thank you as well.
4. Tom Brady
Net worth: $120 million
And this is a guy who actually took a pay cut to stay with the Patriots.
Six Super Bowls, four titles, three Super Bowl MVPs, two NFL MVPs and endorsements from Uggs, Under Armour, Movado and Smartwater should make Brady able to name his price at this point. But all of that is exactly why he re-signed with the Pats for below market value in 2013 to a contract that paid him $7 million this year. By comparison, Peyton Manning made more than double that amount ($15 million) from the Broncos and considerably more ($12 million) from endorsements alone. However, when you have a fan base that hadn't seen much out of the Patriots before Brady arrived and faces a tough stretch when he and coach Bill Belichick leave, why not take stock of your mansions and marriage to a supermodel and spend a couple more years being adored in Boston at Filene's Basement prices?
3. John Elway
Net worth: $145 million
To think that there was a time when people were actually worried that John Elway would be the greatest NFL quarterback to never win a Super Bowl.
Elway's Denver Broncos were the best team in the AFC in 1986, 1987 and 1989 but ran into the New York Giants, Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers at exactly the wrong time in each Super Bowl that followed. Getting Terrell Davis behind him at running back helped change all that in the late '90s as Elway not only earned two Super Bowl rings in 1998 and 1999, but was named Super Bowl MVP during his last time in the big game.
However, that isn't how you amass a fortune that big as a quarterback from the '80s and '90s. Elway also owns two steakhouses in Colorado, several auto dealerships in California and Colorado (not including those he sold to AutoNation for $82 million in 1997) and serves as an executive in the Broncos' front office. Just as those Super Bowl wins in the '90s gave Elway's football career a second act, his business savvy has given his post-football career a Terrell Davis-like boost worthy of his former teammate's salute.
Of course, Elway's fortune could have been even larger. In 1998 he passed up the opportunity to purchase 10% of the Broncos franchise for $15 million and the opportunity to snag another 10% stake were he to forego his $21 million in deferred salary. Of course, that 20% stake is now worth $388 -- a 646% return. Womp, womp.
2. Peyton Manning
Net worth: $165 million
Peyton has gone to the Super Bowl three times before this year and only has one ring to show for it, but his endorsements have been a little easier to come by.
Despite being injured much of his time with the Broncos, Manning managed to make $243 million both on and off the field during the last decade -- more than any other NFL player. Those who've sought his services have included Reebok, Gatorade, Nabisco, Buick and DirecTV, but his latest deals with Nike, Papa John's and Nationwide helped him earn $12 million in endorsements alone in 2015. We don't know what his post-career earning potential will look like if he wins on Sunday, but his current nest egg can buy a whole lot of good-tasting chicken parm.
1. Roger Staubauch
Net worth: $600 million
O.K., so the Heisman Trophy winner, Navy veteran and iconic Cowboys gunslinger went to five Super Bowls in his career, won two and had none other than Tom Landry patrolling the sidelines as his coach. However, he hasn't played in a Super Bowl since 1978 and hasn't played football since 1979.
So how do you make $600 million during the '60s and '70s playing football without someone tapping you on the shoulder every time a company like Apple has a public offering? Well, being a football player at that time meant moonlighting in the offseason. Since Staubach was in his 20s and had a wife and three kids at home, he opted to start selling real estate during his down time.
However, he was selling real estate in Texas during the 1960s and '70s, so by the time he could focus all of his efforts on it after his retirement, his business exploded. As he told Forbes, by the time he began to consider selling his Staubach Company real estate firm in the early 2000s, it had become such a sprawling enterprise that Jones Lang Lasalle snatched it up in 2008 for $640 million dollars. Even better, he only owned a 12% stake at the time, so the rest of the windfall went to employees who'd purchased equity in the company. Of what he did get, he put half into a retirement fund for his kids.
Staubach didn't make enough during his career with the Cowboys to retire, but his highly paid modern contemporaries would have to spend a few more decades calling snaps to retire with as much as he was able to put away.