The NFC North is shaping up to be arguably the toughest division in the NFL this year. The fact that Chicago, touted by many as possible Super Bowl contenders this year, are currently languishing in third, tells you all you need to know. The Vikings seem to have chosen this year to finally start converting potential into results, too, so Green Bay fans have got to be pleased to see their team leading the division as we approach the mid-point of the regular season.
Plenty of the credit for that lies with Aaron Rodgers. Even the UK press have singled him out as one of the best of his generation. This is a nation that loves statistics and sports betting – and has taken American football to heart, especially since it started hosting NFL games, so it is not idle chatter. But Green Bay has been blessed with several quarterbacks over the years that have attracted similar plaudits. How does Rodgers compare with these great names from the past?
The Gunslinger is the man against whom all others will be compared in the modern era, and it was his immense boots that Rodgers was asked to fill. Over his 20-year career, Favre accumulated an incredible 508 touchdowns and almost 72,000 yards.
When you look at it from purely a numbers perspective, Rodgers still has some catching up to do, but his 45,000 yards and 351 touchdowns have come in 15 pro seasons, including those three spent as understudy to Favre. But there’s more to it than numbers. ESPN’s Max Kellerman was in no doubt, and courted controversy last year when he said that Favre was “Never as good as Aaron Rodgers is right now, not on his best day.”
Of course, there are those students of the game who say the above debate misses the most important point of all, which is that there is one quarterback who was always better than both Favre and Rodgers. Bart Starr might not have the numbers to match Favre. Back in the 1960s, Green Bay was a team that preferred to keep the ball on the ground. That’s a little strange looking back, as when you watch footage from all those years ago, it’s clear that Starr had a great arm and pinpoint accuracy.
Even more important, though, is that Starr was a man who knew how to win and to inspire greatness in those around him. He led the Packers to five NFL Championship wins and victories in the first two Super Bowls – being dubbed MVP in both for good measure.
There’s no beating greatness
When Starr passed away earlier this year, the tributes by current players meant his achievements were revisited by a whole new generation of Packers fans. Ultimately, these will stand the test of time. However, exactly the same can be said for both Favre and Rodgers.
This is why comparing greats from different eras, while fun, is ultimately a fool’s errand. Let’s be grateful that these star athletes have played such an important role in the past and present – and look forward to more greatness in the years ahead.