According to the NFL, Patrick Mahomes has the 3rd highest win percentage of all time. But that's only because the NFL practiced awkward mathematics until 1972. Using today's math (which happens to be the math nearly anyone else would expect) PM15 is in 2nd place, and a 4-0 start away from the best winning percentage of all time.
I went down this little rabbit hole when I googled QB Win percentage. I suppose because I'm an aging boomer, Wikipedia came up first and I clicked it. Here's the link:
If you sort their table by win percentage, Patrick shows up at .800 (64-16), just behind Daryl Lamonica .801 (66-16-6) and the all-time leader Otto Graham at .814 (57-13-1).
I started doing the math to figure out how many games it might take for Patrick to climb this ladder... and then I stopped. I couldn't make the math work out for the leaders' winning percentage. When I calculated it, Lamonica's win percentage was .784 and Graham's was .809.
The explanation came from a clickable footnote at the top of the Career Win % column. The explanation?
The NFL did not officially count ties in the standings until 1972. Therefore, ties occurring prior to 1972 do not count toward a quarterback's win percentage, while ties occurring in 1972 or later count as half-win, half-loss.
Since Lamonica played only a couple of years after '72 NONE of his ties are counted at all. Oh sure, they count the passes, yards, TDs, interceptions, and everything else that happened in those games. But not the half-win, half-loss that post-1972 ties accrue.
So to "pass" Lamonica, Patrick and the Chiefs would need to beat the Lions in the opener. A 4-0 start for the Chiefs would raise Mahomes' win percentage to .810, just ahead of Graham's true win percentage of .809. An amazing 6-0 start would have Mahomes surpassing Graham using even the NFL's goofy math.
If Mahomes and the Chiefs can put together another 14-3 regular season, Patrick's win percentage would be .804. It would take a 15-2 season to tie Graham, and 16-1 would vault him ahead.
Graham's percentage may be uncatchable in the long run, and Lamonica's too for that matter. Tom Brady is 4th, with a win percentage of .754 (251-82).
But just give me that 6-0 start please. That would be fun.
PS: An interesting comparison from the research for this post. I think Otto Graham may have been the Patrick Mahomes of his age.
- Otto Graham played baseball, basketball, and football at Northwestern. He played professional basketball in the NBL.
- Graham played in 10 straight championship games from 1946 to 1955. His run from '46 to '49 doesn't count for NFL wins, because the Browns played in the AAFC. They dominated that league though - his record there was estimated at 48–4–3. So his NFL record is a short one - 1950 to 1955.
- Graham was lauded by his teammate Mike McCormack (NFL HOF, Rock Chalk) for his 'one of the guys' demeanor. McCormack added, "He was good at spinning and moving in the pocket, skills he learned playing basketball."
- His coach Paul Brown wrote about Graham "I remember his tremendous peripheral vision and his great athletic skill, as well as his ability to throw a football far and accurately with just a flick of his arm."
- NY Yankees owner George Steinbrenner called Graham "as great of a quarterback as there ever was."
- Graham won three MVPs in his six NFL seasons. He won three NFL championships. He lead the league in pass yardage twice, twice in passer rating, and three times in completion percentage.