Five teams will line up at the start of September with a quarterback who has hoisted the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season.
Twenty-seven teams will begin the journey with a quarterback searching for the path to a title.
Clifton Brown of the Sporting News recently looked at the quarterbacks without a Super Bowl ring and which one has the best chance to get fitted for one at the end of the year.
His front runners?
Kerry Collins, who played in Super Bowl XXXV and lost, Joe Flacco and Donovan McNabb, who has a Super Bowl loss in XXXIX.
Knocking at the door?
Jake Delhomme, Philip Rivers and Tony Romo.
Others to watch?
Drew Brees, Jay Cutler and Matt Ryan.
Collins, Flacco, McNabb, Delhomme, Rivers and Ryan all were in the playoffs last season. Romo has playoff experience and Brees has been to an NFC Championship Game. That makes Cutler the only one of the bunch who has yet to gain playoff experience. He's yet to have a winning season, in fact, but the Bears feel strongly they will be competing in January and some view them as the favorite in the NFC North. It's an interesting list and we found it a little striking that only five current starters have a ring.
Tom Brady 3
Ben Roethlisberger 2
Eli Manning 1
Peyton Manning 1
Kurt Warner 1
The most recent Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks to not be playing?
Brad Johnson, Super Bowl XXXVII
Trent Dilfer, Super Bowl XXXV
John Elway, Super Bowls XXXIII, XXXII
*** Tim O'Brien for the Southtown Star caught up with Marian Catholic grad Rodney Harrison, back in town for his annual football camp at Hillcrest High School. The recently retired Harrison has signed on with NBC as an analyst for the coming season. He's been critical of Cutler before, in particular questioning the quarterback's leadership ability, and some of that surfaced again here. But it sounds like Harrison sees good things ahead for Cutler.
"I'm excited about Jay Cutler,'' Harrison told O'Brien. "To me, he was a guy that showed a lot of potential in Denver but never really rose to that (elite) level, a Peyton Manning, a Tom Brady. It wasn't physical, it was more mental. Maybe the leadership wasn't there. Cutler has a tremendous upside, and this is the best move for him. He's motivated now to really step up and get to that next echelon of great quarterbacks. It's going to be a challenging year for him because he has a lot of pressure from the people of Chicago who think he's the savior, but he's not. Everyone knows great defenses win championships with good steady quarterback play. He has to stay away from the turnovers, and if he does that they'll have success. The Bears don't have a lot of weapons at wide receiver where Denver had Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal. The Bears have a good running back (Matt Forte) and an athletic Devin Hester. We'll see what happens, but it all goes through the quarterback position."