Tua Tagovailoa and his Miami Dolphins are taking the NFL by storm.
A year after Tagovailoa led the league in passer rating, but missed time with injuries, he and the Dolphins are at or near the top of the list in the NFL when it comes to yardage, scoring, winning, you name it, but there's something unconventional about his success thus far. Tagovailoa is an anomaly as the only left-handed quarterback on an NFL roster in 2023, a notable quirk at a largely right-handed position, as only 33 lefties have ever appeared in the NFL.
As Tagovailoa continues to dominate the NFL despite throwing his precise deep balls with the "wrong" hand, let's take a look at some other notable southpaws who have spent time under center in the NFL
10: Jared Lorenzen
Lorenzen didn't have the most distinguished NFL career, but given that his left-handedness factored into his iconic nickname, we have to give "The Hefty Lefty" some love on our list. Lorenzen was built more like an offensive lineman than a traditional quarterback, as his playing weight was listed at 285 pounds, but he could definitely throw the ball. He set University of Kentucky records for passing yards and touchdowns, and even earned a Super Bowl ring as the backup to Eli Manning on the 2007 New York Giants. Lorenzen sadly passed away in 2019 as the result of an acute infection, but he brought a unique flair to the game of football that will never be forgotten.
9: Mark Brunell
Brunell had an outstanding college career with the Washington Huskies, where he won a Rose Bowl, in which he was named the game MVP, and even helped the Huskies to a share of a National Championship in 1991. He was a late-round draft pick in the NFL, where he put together a remarkably long 19-year career. His longest tenure, and the one that featured by far his longest shot at a starting role, was with the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars, where he played for the first nine seasons of the team's existence. As the full-time starter, Brunell led the Jags to four consecutive winning seasons, topped by a 14-2 campaign in 1999, just the team's fifth year in the league. That year was Brunell's third and final Pro Bowl nod, and involved a 62-7 playoff rout of the Dolphins in what turned out to be Dan Marino's last-ever game, a highlight of a career defined by impressive longevity.
8: Kellen Moore
Moore didn't have much of an NFL career, interestingly enough slotting in as a career backup despite being a lefty, which makes it tough for offenses to adapt on short notice. His college resume is beyond reproach, as he racked up a record 50 wins at Boise State, continuing to help put the program on the map after their iconic 2007 Fiesta Bowl victory. He tossed 142 touchdowns to just 28 interceptions at Boise, and was even a Heisman finalist, a first for the school. He appeared in just three NFL games, going 0-2 as a starter for the Cowboys, but Dallas thought enough of Moore's football IQ to transition him into a coaching role. He's currently the offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Chargers, and after Brandon Staley's impending firing, he has a very good chance to become the team's interim and possibly even permanent head coach.
7: Tua Tagovailoa
We need to see Tua make it through a full season and put together some playoff performances before he rises any higher on this list, but he has the ability to achieve great things with Tyreek Hill and the rest of this stacked and extremely high-flying Mike McDaniel offense. In addition to leading the NFL in passer rating last season, he's right up at the top of every passing category again early this year and is the odds-on MVP frontrunner. He's competed well in the challenging AFC East, most notably owning a 5-0 record against Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Tua put together a distinguished college career after making one of the most memorable and iconic debuts of all time, pulling Alabama back to an overtime win after subbing in at halftime of the College Football Playoff final against Georgia as a true freshman. He is currently the all-time FBS leader in career passing efficiency rating, and has brought that same pedigree to the NFL despite fighting through multiple major injuries.
6: Matt Leinart
Like another 2000s passer we'll get to in a minute, Leinart achieved most of his lefty passing success in college, where he won a Heisman Trophy, a national championship, and a Rose Bowl. He also came close to a second ring in the 2005 season with a stunning championship game performance as his USC Trojans fell to Vince Young and Texas in perhaps the most iconic college game of a generation. With an undefeated season and an overall record of 37-2 as USC's starter, including a team 34-game win streak, his college tenure is remembered as one of the greatest ever, despite some vacated wins and a lackluster NFL career.
5: Boomer Esiason
If you didn't know that Boomer's legal name is Norman, you could be forgiven, but if you aren't aware of this career accomplishments, it's time to get up to speed. After Maryland was the only school to offer the big lefty a scholarship, he rewarded the program with a great career in which he set 17 school records and won the ACC. He was drafted in the second round despite his excellent college resume, perhaps due in part to his unconventional left-handedness. He was selected by the Bengals, where he spent the bulk of his NFL career, in which he racked up 247 touchdowns, and won the NFL's two highest individual honors, the MVP and the Man of the Year Award. You may know him mostly for his on-air work, but this lefty QB put together a really solid NFL career on the field.
4 Tim Tebow
When I think "lefty QB" I immediately think of Tim Tebow. The iconic star is mostly known for his accomplishments at the collegiate level as a Florida Gator, where he won two national championships and a Heisman Trophy, but he made an impact at the NFL level too. His legacy is mostly defined by that magical 2011 "Tebowmania" season, where he took a floundering Broncos team to the playoffs, and even won a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. His NFL tenure may not have been a long one, but it's something to be proud of, especially as one of just a few lefties to make it that far.
3: Michael Vick
Michael Vick is a rightfully controversial figure due to some of his actions off of the field, but when it comes to football, there's absolutely no denying that he was a unique talent. In addition to being a member of the very tight NFL lefty passers club, he was one of the first prominent QBs to blend rushing and passing, with an athleticism rarely seen at the position even today. He finished in the top four of MVP voting twice, and would have finished as runner-up again in 2010 had Tom Brady not been a unanimous winner, or if down-ballot votes were counted back then. Vick Accumulated over 6,000 rushing yards and 36 touchdowns on the ground to go along with over 22,400 and 133 through the air, rounding out a thoroughly impressive, even if somewhat complicated legacy
2: Ken Stabler
A trailblazer for lefty QBs in the NFL, Stabler's time in the league was quite a bit earlier than anyone else on this list. He was picked in the second round of the 1968 NFL draft after a championship-winning Alabama tenure, and was even a three-time MLB draft pick. He won an MVP in 1974 as he led the NFL by throwing 26 touchdowns, a figure he'd top with a league-best total of 27 in 1976, as he led the Raiders to a Super Bowl title. Stabler's passing numbers may not jump off the page to modern fans of the game, but for his era they were impressive totals, and earned him a rightful spot in the Pro Football Hall of fame in 2016.
1: Steve Young
Young had inarguably the best NFL tenure of any of these left-handed stars. After a solid BYU tenure, he started off his career in the USFL, before pivoting to the NFL's Buccaneers, where he floundered as well. When the Bucs drafted Vinny Testaverde, Young was traded to the San Francisco 49ers, which proved to be a blessing in disguise. It's impossible to quantify just how much he learned as Joe Montana's backup and under coach Bill Walsh, but the results were clear evidence of positive progression; Young shone in all opportunities he had as Montana's backup, before finally taking the reins himself in 1991, and winning MVPs in 1992 and 1994. Young became a champion in that 1994 season, when he set a Super Bowl record with six touchdown passes in a rout of the Chargers. This lefty led the league in touchdowns four times, completion percentage five, and passer rating six, en route to a well-deserved spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
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