9 backup QBs have won a Super Bowl — could Brock Purdy be next?

9 backup QBs have won a Super Bowl — could Brock Purdy be next?

Mr. Irrelevant could be the 10th if the rookie signal-caller can lead the San Francisco 49ers to a title

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Sixty-eight quarterbacks started at least one game in 2022. That’s a list that includes signal-callers like Mike “F’n” White, David Blough, Trace McSorley, Skylar Thompson, Desmond Ridder, Jarett Stidham... and “Mr. Irrelevant” Brock Purdy.

The San Francisco 49ers lost Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo to season-ending injuries, and turned to the rookie QB they took with the final pick of this year’s draft. The Niners went 5-0 in Purdy’s five starts to close out the season, finished with a 13-4 record, and the No. 2 seed in the NFC.

This is a team with Super Bowl aspirations and the talent to capture a title. If that happens, the 23-year-old Purdy would be the 10th backup to do so since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.

The nine include some Hall of Famers — and some serviceable signal-callers.

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Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams (1999)

Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams (1999)

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Kurt Warner went undrafted, worked at a grocery store, and starred in the Arena League before putting together a Hall of Fame NFL career.

In 1999, he replaced Trent Green, who suffered a nasty knee injury during the preseason. As the signal-caller for “The Greatest Show on Turf,” Warner guided the Rams to a 13-3 record, and the franchise’s first title. He was both the regular season and Super Bowl MVP.

In one of the most memorable championship games of all time — with Kevin Dyson getting tackled on the 1-yard-line on the game’s final play — Warner threw for 414 yards and two touchdowns, as St. Louis defeated the Tennessee Titans, 23-16.

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Roger Staubach, Dallas Cowboys (Super Bowl VI)

Roger Staubach, Dallas Cowboys (Super Bowl VI)

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The Dallas Cowboys had a quarterback controversy in 1971. Head coach Tom Landry was giving playing time to both Craig Morton, who led the team to Super Bowl V the year prior, and Roger Staubach, a former Heisman Trophy winner at Navy.

The legendary Landry even had them alternate plays in a Week 7 loss to the Chicago Bears, despite Morton being the starter. After starting the year 4-3, the coach went with Staubach — and the Cowboys went undefeated the rest of the way.

Staubach earned Super Bowl VI MVP honors after tossing two TDs in Dallas’ 24-3 win over the Miami Dolphins. He won another ring with the ‘Boys in 1977.

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Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh Steelers (Super Bowl IX)

Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh Steelers (Super Bowl IX)

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Terry Bradshaw was benched for the first six games of the 1974 season. After replacing Joe Gilliam in Week 7, the Pittsburgh Steelers won six of their next eight to close out the regular season.

Bradshaw capped off the year with the first of four Super Bowl titles he won during his Hall of Fame career with the Steelers, who drafted him No. 1 overall in 1970.

In the big game, Pittsburgh defeated the Minnesota Vikings, 16-6, and repeated as champs the following season.

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Tom Brady, New England Patriots (Super Bowl XXXVI)

Tom Brady, New England Patriots (Super Bowl XXXVI)

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The sixth-round draft pick’s rise started after New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis injured Patriots’ starter Drew Bledsoe in Week 2 of the 2001 season.

Brady won his first of seven titles that year and is still playing at 45 years old.

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Jim Plunkett, Oakland Raiders (Super Bowl XV)

Jim Plunkett, Oakland Raiders (Super Bowl XV)

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Jim Plunkett won the Heisman Trophy at Stanford, and was the first overall pick of the 1971 NFL Draft.

But by 1980, at 32, he was on his third team — and on the bench. Raiders starting QB Dan Pastorini broke his leg, and Plunkett threw five picks in relief. However, having more experience than fellow backup Marc Wilson, Plunkett got the nod and helped lead Oakland to a Super Bowl victory, earning MVP honors after throwing for 261 yards and three TDs. He was also the league’s Comeback Player of the Year.

Plunkett was also the starter for the Raiders’ Super Bowl XVIII victory a few years later

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Trent Dilfer, Baltimore Ravens (Super Bowl XXXV)

Trent Dilfer, Baltimore Ravens (Super Bowl XXXV)

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In his lone season with the Baltimore Ravens, Trent Dilfer backed up Tony Banks, was elevated to the starting QB role, won a Super Bowl — and wasn’t brought back. Perhaps that was due to Baltimore’s historic defense, and Dilfer being, as the LA Times put it, a “game manager” supported by the other side of the ball. Linebacker Ray Lewis was Super Bowl XXXV’s MVP, as the Ravens beat the New York Giants, 34-7.

Dilfer bounced around the league and has since gone into broadcasting and coaching.

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Jeff Hostetler, New York Giants (Super Bowl XXV)

Jeff Hostetler, New York Giants (Super Bowl XXV)

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Playing mainly in mop up duty, or even as a WR or special teamer during the first few years of his career, Jeff Hostetler was ready to retire at the end of the 1990 season. “I blocked a punt, ran the ball, caught a pass before I ever threw one in the NFL,” he recalled.

However, Hostetler got his shot after a season-ending injury to Giants’ starter Phil Simms. “I can still remember all the media experts out there saying that our season was over, there was no way that we could advance to the playoffs and win a Super Bowl with a backup quarterback like that,” team president John Mara said.

In the big game — remembered for Scott Norwood’s miss wide right and Whitney Houston’s iconic performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” — Hostetler was 20-of-32 for 222 yards and a TD, though he also was sacked in the end zone for a safety. He previously won a ring with the Giants (Super Bowl XXI) backing up Simms, and continued playing until 1998.

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Doug Williams, Washington (Super Bowl XXII)

Doug Williams, Washington (Super Bowl XXII)

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The once proud franchise (read: Before Dan Snyder) won three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks — Joe Theismann (XVII), Mark Rypien (XXVI), and Doug Williams (XXII).

Williams is the first Black QB to start and win a Super Bowl. He won game MVP honors after throwing for 340 yards and four TDs — a day after needing a root canal.

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Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles (Super Bowl LII)

Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles (Super Bowl LII)

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Nick Foles may never again reach the heights he experienced during the 2017 season with the Philadelpha Eagles. (Carson Wentz, on the other hand, may lose a starting job again at some point — due to injury or ineffectiveness.)

But he etched a permanent place in history, guiding the Eagles to a title, winning Super Bowl MVP honors after throwing for 373 yards and 3 TDs, and even catching one (the often imitated Philly Special).

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