FOXBORO, Mass. — Speaking in a WEEI interview Tuesday morning, Tom Brady said he consistently is inspired by watching Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers’ response? Ditto.
“The feeling’s mutual,” Rodgers said Wednesday in a conference call with New England reporters. “As a young player, I watched a ton of his film. I had a great guy to watch every single day in Brett Favre, but Tommy’s been at the top of his game for a long, long time.”
Rodgers, who entered the NFL five years after Brady in 2000, has squared off against the legendary Patriots QB just once in his career, yet the two frequently are mentioned in the same breath, widely regarded as two of the greatest ever to play the game at their position. They’ll meet at Gillette Stadium this Sunday night in one of the most highly anticipated quarterback matchups of the 2018 NFL season.
Neither has anything but the highest of high praise for the other ahead of that matchup, with Rodgers marveling at Brady’s production and longevity.
“I watched most of his snaps from the ’07 season, and I’ve always been a big fan of his,” Rodgers said. “Just the stuff he does on the field is phenomenal, and then to see him, as he’s gotten older in his career, just continue to reinvent himself year after year and play at a high level every season, obviously winning championships, he’s a phenomenal player.
“But he’s a pioneer as far as taking care of his body and rewriting the longevity books for players of his caliber. It’s been really impressive to watch, and whenever I get a chance, whether he’s on Thursday night, Sunday night, Monday night, I’m for sure tuning in.”
Asked what he’s been able to learn from all that film study, Rodgers immediately pointed to Brady’s “pocket movement.”
“Just watching him in 2007 especially, (I noticed) his smooth nature in the pocket,” Rodgers explained. “He’s able to make subtle movements — and has been for his entire career — to create space for a throwing lane and a throwing platform. That’s one thing — not looking at the rush and being able to find that soft spot in the pocket — is something he’s just been incredible at.
“It’s an innate sense but something you can really work on, as well, and that’s something I definitely took from him. And just like Favre, Tom has always been great with his eyes — being able to manipulate defenders and move them out of zones that he wants to throw into and move safeties to be able to get to spots down the seam. He and Brett are the best two I’ve seen on film.”
On Brady’s ability to play at a high level at age 41, Rodgers remarked: “He’s an outlier. He’s a unicorn. There’s not many like him.” He went on to praise Brady’s diet and workout regimen and said he shares Brady’s desire to play until his mid-40s as long as his health and love for the game hold up.
“If I still love it the way I do now and my body feels good, I think all of us would love to be able to pick the time that we go out,” Rodgers said. “It’s obviously different in this day and age, and not everybody can stay in the same spot and be able to kind of write their own final chapter, but that’s definitely the goal.”