Aaron Rodgers’ predecessor Brett Favre shockingly made news telling TMZ Rodgers will be, if not already, a top five player of all-time. The correct reaction to Favre’s comments is “Duh, of course, he is. He is actually the best football player of all-time.”
Rodgers plays by far the most important position in football and plays it at the highest level it has ever been played at. If you judged this question statistically or by the eye test, the question is not whether he is top five, the question is, how is he not number one?
Aaron Rodgers has the best passer rating of all-time. He is 5.0 above the next closest. Even if you adjust for era and the climbing passer rating average over time, there are only two other guys in the discussion with Rodgers for efficiency: Joe Montana and Steve Young out of the 49ers dynasties.
If you do not value passer rating, do you value scoring and not turning the ball over? Rodgers once again stands far above the rest in career passing touchdown/interception ratio. Rodgers is the only one that eclipses 4.00 and has only thrown 78 career interceptions to 313 touchdowns. Again, even adjusting for era, Joe Montana and Tom Brady are the only ones in the same range on avoiding interceptions, but Montana and Brady do not match Rodgers in passing touchdown rate (Rodgers already has 40 more than Montana).
When talking about who is the greatest single football player of all-time, what really matters is who has the single greatest impact, and that is where Rodgers bolsters his case even more. Rodgers has put forth some of the greatest seasons a player has ever had on really bad teams. When you compare him to the other quarterbacks and who they have played with on offense, it’s not even close. Montana and Young had Jerry Rice and at various times, Roger Craig or Ricky Watters. Peyton Manning had Marvin Harrison Harrison and Reggie Wayne and Edgerrin James. Tom Brady has had Rob Gronkowski. The best running back Aaron Rodgers has had is either Eddie Lacy or Ryan Grant. Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings and Randall Cobb have been decent receivers but don’t stack up with what other elite quarterbacks had and aren’t going to be in the Hall of Fame. Jermichael Finley is still the best tight end he has played with.
To illustrate this contrast of teammates, Rodgers has never played with another offensive player selected first team all-pro, ever. In contrast, Brady has 9 all-pro offensive teammate seasons. Young played with 7 in 8 seasons. Montana played with 8 in 10 seasons. Peyton Manning had 8 all-pro teammate seasons in his 13 years in Indy. In fact, every single quarterback in the Hall of Fame has played with an all-pro teammate during his career-and most of them with one or more other Hall of Famers on offense.
For him to put up the best stats when he hasn’t had historically elite players like other great quarterbacks shows just how strong his case is as the best ever. Those other quarterbacks have also played with Hall of Fame coaches, while Rodgers has spent his career with Mike McCarthy.
Many people are going to push back on Rodgers’ case because he has only made and won one Super Bowl. Yet, that one Super Bowl victory came the one year the Packers gave him a roster capable of winning a Super Bowl or a roster that could stay healthy enough.
It really never made sense that so many have inserted LeBron James into the conversation of the greatest NBA player of all-time and have not done the same for Rodgers. Their careers draw several parallels. They are both the most talented, impactful, efficient, and valuable players to play their respective sports. What LeBron has is more rings and more championship appearances. But that is where they are actually more similar than most think.
LeBron’s Finals resume is like Rodgers’ playoff resume. They beat the teams that are not significantly better than their teams. They have plenty of “wow” moments in the postseason. LeBron just happens to play in a weaker conference and has had a few better teams than Rodgers.
Since his Super Bowl victory, Rodgers has had miraculous playoff moments, however, injuries and the lack of a quality roster has not given him enough to beat the far, far superior teams he has run into.
He ran into a Giants team that won the Super Bowl, two 49ers teams that were clearly better and the Packers defense could not handle, a Cardinals teams they also could not defend for a second, and a Seahawks and Falcons team that should have won the Super Bowl but choked in unbelievable fashion to the Patriots.
Look at these defenses the Packers have had, and the tight ends, and the mess of running backs, oh, and all the injuries the Packers suffer from each and every season (including Rodgers). Anyone notice how the Packers struggled to move the ball 10 yards when Rodgers was out last season.
If we want to talk players, not just quarterbacks, like Favre mentioned, swapping Rodgers for any other player would have resulted in much worse results for the Packers.
Swapping is key because the one knock on Rodgers would be wiped away if he was on Tom Brady’s teams or the teams Joe Montana played on. Rodgers, just as a player, is better than both of them. He has a better arm, is more mobile, more accurate, turns it over less, and has a flick of the wrist that is almost supernatural. Like he does better than any one player ever.
Pick a player, put them against Rodgers, and it will be an exhausting exercise finding someone who is simply better. Better does not mean team success. But by himself, in a vacuum, Rodgers is not just a top five all-time player, he is number one.
The praise is nice, but you didn’t go far enough, Brett.
This is hard to overcome: