In Part 1 of this exercise in fun, I began comparing Indianapolis 500 winners to the Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks who, on the surface, seem to have the most in common.
Let’s continue that evaluation in the final installment here. Remember, as our pal David Letterman used to say, this is for amusement purposes only, so please, no wagering.
We pick back up with some recent two-time Indy 500 champions and the quarterbacks whose traits are most similar:
The easiest match of all. White belts. Big smile. Flashy. London. Florida. Had more time for kids in hospitals than he had on his schedule. Sounds like a Super Bowl-winning quarterback who wore white belts, fur coats, visited a sick Bobby Brady (on TV, anyway) and was Mr. Broadway. But here is the biggest factor: in 2014 this QB was grand marshal of the rain-delayed Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. He spent the down time talking graciously to everyone in the media center and hospitality areas. Robin Miller quipped to me, “He makes everyone he meets seem like the most important person in his World.” Which was Wheldon. The match: Joe Namath
His first Indy car win was the 1990 Indy 500 and, while his two Indy wins account for a third of his career victories, his mastery of Indy is legendary. He set records for the fastest qualifying lap, fastest four-lap qualifying average and fastest race win. Sounds like a quarterback who won the first of two Super Bowls in his first year as an NFL starter and has the three highest passing yardage Super Bowls in history. And he also has decent hair. The match: Kurt Warner
Al Unser Jr.
A two-time Indy winner, he could have many more had his team run the “500” in his prime. His breakthrough win came after several near misses. Little Al had six top-five finishes in the seven years before his 1992 win. He is still the only son of a winner to also drink the milk, and his incredible career is looked upon more glowingly with each passing year. Sounds like the son of a football coach who made multiple Super Bowl appearances before his two wins. That number may have been much more if his team could only have run the ball. The match: John Elway
Third all time in laps recorded, Gordy made 24 "500" starts and a third of them resulted in top-five finishes. The second of his two wins in 1982 is perhaps the most memorable finish in Indy 500 history, and his first in 1973 came attached with memories most would choose to forget. This naturally sounds like Ben Roethlisberger, but Gordy always struck me as a bit of a renegade. He looked the same at 30 as he did at 70, and he won with a flamboyant owner and a team beloved for their logo and color scheme. The match: Kenny Stabler
Some one-time Indy 500 winners:
He was a total badass. He started seven Indy 500s, and none outside of the second row. He led 492 laps, seventh all time. Fearless, he still looks like he could arm wrestle a bear or bench press the Borg-Warner Trophy. The iconic old school racer, Parnelli is widely regarded by his peers and contemporaries as the finest of his era. Much like a guy with black high tops, a crew cut and, strangely, just one Super Bowl ring. The match: Johnny Unitas
Often dismissed as “the guy that won right after the split,” Lazier’s Indy 500 record is vast and historic. He is among the top 10 in laps turned at IMS and his 18 starts have resulted in five top-five finishes. Sounds like a guy who won a Heisman Trophy, yet is the only multiple Super Bowl-winning quarterback (among the eligible) to not be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The match: Jim Plunkett
Smooth and camera friendly, Sullivan won Indy in breathtaking fashion with his “spin to win” in 1985. It was just his third start and, having signed with Roger Penske, it was assumed to be the first of a few. Yet his next five starts averaged a 23rd-place finish. While the numbers may not have been of legendary status, Sullivan’s promise, style and personality have ingrained him in legendary status among the list of "500” winners. Sounds like a punky QB with style and flash who won the Super Bowl in his fourth season, just eight months after Danny tasted the milk. The match: Jim McMahon
His Indy 500 record may not say so, but few would dispute that Mario is the most versatile race car driver of all time. He won and set records in every form of racing he attempted, and only drank milk once in his 29 starts. His family has become royalty at 16th and Georgetown, and both his fans and detractors have saddled up at the Union Jack’s Pub just down the road from IMS debating how many he could or should have won. Some will say a few backstretch stalls were his fault; others will say with the right car he would have compiled more hardware then the IMS Hall of Fame Museum. Either way, no one disputes he is among the greatest to have ever strapped on the headgear. You know who this is, right? The match: Peyton Manning
I could do this all day. But there’s a race in Phoenix next week and, soon enough, the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. And an election to follow. Heck, I wonder which Indy 500 winner George Washington would be.