First off, this article is not meant as a criticism of Rodgers and Brady themselves; at least, that's not the sole purpose of this post. Rodgers and Brady are both capable quarterbacks who have achieved remarkable success. They will both be in the Hall Of Fame one day, and I plan on voting for them personally as soon as they are eligible. It's a criticism of the silly way people talk about Sunday's game. "Who's the real GOAT, A-a-ron or Brady?" "Rodgers-Brady Bowl II!" "Super Bowl preview?" Blah blah blah blah blah. It's none of those things.
First, let's get it out of the way. Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are not the greatest quarterbacks of all time, or even the greatest quarterbacks in the game today. Tom Brady, while extremely intelligent and physically gifted, is not half so responsible for New England's success as Bill Belichick, who is certainly football's greatest mind. His attitude costs him games nearly as often as his talent wins them. And while Rodgers can definitely sling a pigskin further and more accurately than just about anyone, he lacks the modern quarterback's most important skill-keeping the play alive. Also, in a more subjective way, I don't think he loves the game as much as a player should. He seems to have more fun off the field than on it. I thought that about Johnny Manziel too, although Rodgers has the arm to make up for it and was drafted by a better team than Manziel. So both are very good, but both have glaring weaknesses.
While we're on the subject, why do people only consider active or recently retired quarterbacks for the coveted title of GOAT (greatest of all time)? Peyton Manning and Brett Favre are the only retired players who even crop up in the GOAT conversation nowadays, and even then, not nearly as often as Brady and Rodgers. But you go back another decade and there's Joe Montana, John Elway and Dan Marino to be considered; go back further and you have Ken Stabler, Fran Tarkenton and Roger Staubach; and in the pre-Super-Bowl era, there's Sammy Baugh, Otto Graham, and Johnny Unitas. It seems lazy to write off the entire history of football to call a successful modern-era player "the GOAT."
And that's only the quarterbacks. How come no other players are ever mentioned? Todd Gurley, J.J. Watt, Von Miller, Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher, Champ Bailey, Jerry Rice, Walter Payton, Lawrence Taylor, Anthony Muñoz, Mike Ditka, Jim Brown, Floyd Little, Mike Singletary, Bronko Nagurski...the list goes on and on. Nobody ever considers these players candidates for "greatest of all time." Yet I think their claims to the title are every bit as valid as any quarterback's.
GOAT debates and media hype are pretty silly, overall. On the grand scale of football, this is just another mid-season prime-time showdown. I'm much more excited about seeing Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield, two players I expect to join the above list someday, battling it out early tomorrow morning. And, accounting for my bias, I'm also pretty dang thrilled about seeing Deshaun Watson and Phillip Lindsay at Mile High tomorrow. Go Broncos. In Elway We Trust.