Cal football: 15 greatest quarterbacks in Golden Bears history

Jared Goff, California Golden Bears. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Jared Goff, California Golden Bears. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) /
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Joe Kapp
Joe Kapp. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Turner) /

Joe Kapp is the oldest former Golden Bears quarterback to make this all-time list. Kapp played three years for Cal in the late 1950s, helping the team win a conference title as a senior and play in a Rose Bowl versus Iowa.

He started for Cal in 1956, as Kapp completed 46.4 percent of his throws for 667 yards, one touchdown and 13 interceptions. Cal went a miserable 3-7 that fall, but Kapp would be out there again as a junior now under new head coach Pete Elliott in 1957. The Golden Bears were worse in Elliott’s first year on the sidelines, going 1-9 on the year. Kapp completed 49.4 percent of his passes for 580 yards and four touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

After two years of nothing spectacular under center, Kapp and the Cal program would have a fantastic 1958 campaign. Cal went 7-4 and won the Pacific Coast Conference. Kapp completed 57.7 percent of his passes for 649 yards, two touchdowns and five interceptions. He also carried the ball 142 times for 582 yards and five touchdowns.

Though Cal would get blown out by Iowa in the Rose Bowl, Kapp would be named all-conference and an All-American for his efforts carrying the Golden Bears to Pasadena. Kapp would go on to be drafted by the Washington Redskins in the 18th round of the 1959 NFL Draft. He opted to play in the CFL for the next eight seasons, spending time with the Calgary Stampeders and the BC Lions en route to a CFL Hall of Fame career north of the border.

Kapp would eventually make his way to the NFL in 1967 as a member of the Minnesota Vikings. He spent three seasons in the Twin Cities, earning a Pro Bowl nod in 1969 and setting an NFL record with seven touchdown passes in a game against the then-Baltimore Colts. That was as many touchdown strikes he threw during his entire collegiate career at Cal. He’d spend one final NFL season with the then-Boston Patriots before retiring.

In his post-playing career, Kapp would get into coaching. He led his alma mater’s football program for five seasons in the 1980s to underwhelming success. His most signature moment coaching Cal was being in charge of the team during The Play in 1983’s monumental victory versus arch rival Stanford. In 2004, Kapp’s legacy as a Cal legend was cemented when he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.