At least 15 or 20 quarterbacks reasonably could qualify for inclusion on the top 10 list. Panelists struggled to differentiate between quarterbacks of divergent eras.
"You can put up a list like that, and no one can dispute it with any authority," Haley said. "Certain guys stick out in my mind, and I'm sure certain ones stick out for Kenny Meyer or other guys who have coached or scouted or looked at guys for as long as we have."
The game continues to evolve, significantly affecting the value of specific skills. Years ago, quarterbacks worked hard to perfect the reverse pivot moves needed to execute wide tosses from split backfields. They called their own plays and threw to receivers who faced bump-and-run coverage all over the field. The money wasn't always great, forcing players to hold down jobs during the offseason, but they still got together for informal workouts.
Modern-day quarterbacks face complex defenses, putting more emphasis on study habits and quick thinking. Free agency has kept quarterbacks and receivers from staying together as long, at the expense of teamwork.
For as much as the game has changed, the essence of the position has remained the same from Y.A. Tittle and George Blanda to Len Dawson, Warren Moon and the rest.
A great quarterback must be an accurate passer. He must make the right decisions under pressure. He must work at his craft. And he needs that extra something.
"It's not the techniques you have, it's not the ability to scramble or something like that," Meyer said. "Basically, it's an ability to be a winning-type person in that position."
Mike Sando covers the NFL for ESPN.com