Peyton Manning quickly crossed the New York Jets off his list of potential landing places, and the Jets just as quickly (with a bit of panic, perhaps?) handed an extension to Mark Sanchez to ease any hurt feelings. So it's Sanchez for three more seasons. While Manning is in a class of his own, arguably the greatest quarterback in the history of football, there have been a long line of Hall of Fame or at least Pro Bowl quarterbacks who started their careers elsewhere and arrived in New York to play for the Jets and New York Giants. None won the Super Bowl, though a few got their team to a title game but fell short of a championship. Mainly, though, it just didn't work out. The majority obviously didn't come with the credentials of Manning, but whatever team he ends up with doesn't know what they're getting so the move would have been a gamble regardless. Here's a brief history of quarterbacks who have come to New York with some level of success before arriving.
Going all the way back to 1960, when the New York Titans were born, they had to get their quarterback from somewhere, so the fledgling team looked up to Canada and snagged Al Dorow. The veteran quarterback spent two years in the Canadian Football League after three seasons behind center for the Washington Redskins and one in Philadelphia with the Eagles. He made the Pro Bowl in 1956 with the 'Skins, and he led the brand-new AFL in touchdowns (26) in his first year with New York. The next season, he led the league in completions and attempts, and played in the AFL All-Star Game before being traded to the Buffalo Bills in 1962. The Titans went 7-7 in both of Dorow's seasons in New York.
Arguably the most successful quarterback ever to come to New York after playing somewhere else was Y.A. Tittle. The Hall of Famer had already cemented his legend in San Francisco, playing 10 years with the 49ers (after three seasons with the Baltimore Colts). Tittle joined a powerhouse Giants team, in 1961, which had won the NFL Championship in 1956 and lost the title game in '58 and '59. He twice led the league in touchdowns and once in completion percentage in his four years with Big Blue, went to three Pro Bowls, twice was a First-Team All-Pro and won various MVP awards. More importantly, though, he led the Giants to three consecutive NFL Championship Games in his first three years, but unfortunately lost to the Packers twice and the Bears in 1963. In 1964, the Giants went 2-10-2, and Tittle called it a day. The following year the Giants picked up Earl Morrall, who made the Pro Bowl in 1957 with the Steelers, which were followed by some solid years in Detroit. After not making much of an impact, Morrall was replaced by another future Hall of Famer when the Giants acquired Fran Tarkenton from the Vikings. The in-his-prime Tarkenton was surrounded by mediocrity, and even though he went to four Pro Bowls in his five seasons with the Giants, his teams never made the playoffs.
Tarkenton was then shipped back to Minnesota in an ill-conceived deal that brought back Norm Snead. The new Giants quarterback was a three-time Pro Bowler in his years with Washington and Philadelphia, and even made the Pro Bowl his first year with Big Blue, after leading the NFL in completion percentage, but he was no Fran Takenton, and after a few years was replaced by former Cowboy Craig Morton, who led his team to a Super Bowl appearance in the 1970 season. Morton fared about as well as Snead and the Giants began developing their own quarterbacks.
The Jets' first real dabble in the star quarterback sweepstakes came in 1993 when they brought in hometown hero Boomer Esiason. After a stellar career with the Cincinnati Bengals, in which he went to a Super Bowl and three Pro Bowls, was a First-Team All-Pro and won the 1988 AP NFL MVP award, Esiason couldn't match that success in New York. Though he was a Pro Bowler in '93, the Long Island native played for three different coaches in his three years with the Jets, with the best record his teams could muster up being an 8-8 mark in his first year. Rich Kotite was his last coach with Gang Green, which said it all about his chances for success. After a Frank Reich here and a Neil O'Donnell there, the Jets' next forray into star quarterback territory was their most successful when they picked up Vinny Testaverde in 1998. Testaverde was an instant hit, making the Pro Bowl after having the best season of his career (29 touchdowns, seven interceptions). And the Jets, of course, made it all the way to the AFC Championshp Game, but lost a halftime lead and fell to the Denver Broncos. Battling injuries, Testaverde played two more full seasons for the Jets and parts of a few others, but could never duplicate the 1998 season.
While Testaverde was throwing passes for the Jets, the Giants brought in Pro Bowler and former NFC Championship Game veteran Kerry Collins. He was a definite improvement over the Dave Browns and Danny Kanells of the world, and even led the Giants to an unexpected Super Bowl appearance after the 2000 season. After five years in New York he was briefly replaced by Super Bowl champion Kurt Warner, who was just a placeholder for Eli Manning and never had a chance to make his mark in New York.
The most celebrated and what would have been the best comparison to a Peyton-Manning-to-the-Jets scenario came in 2008 with the rock-star-like arrival of Brett Favre. After 11 games, the Jets were 8-3 and looking like a lock to make the playoffs and the move to acquire Favre seemingly a stroke of genius. But four losses in their last five games, with Favre nursing an injury, doomed the team and spelled the end for coach Eric Mangini and Favre as a Jet. The biggest star acquisition in New York turned into the biggest flameout.
Tittle was 35 when he came to New York and Favre was 39, both came with Hall of Fame credentials, but neither could get their team to the promised land. Would their situations be comparible to Manning if he came to the Jets? Maybe, maybe not. And even mentioning Norm Snead, Craig Morton or Al Dorow in the same breath as Manning is a huge stretch. But history shows, a star quarterback coming to New York certainly doesn't guarantee success.