Any Tom Brady-Aaron Rodgers ‘GOAT’ Debate Ultimately Is A Waste Of Time

Don't even start the Aaron Rodgers-Tom Brady debate


After Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers knocked the New Orleans Saints out of the playoffs Sunday night, a truly astounding statistic was produced on FOX’s broadcast.

Brady now has twice as many playoff wins as any other quarterback in NFL history.

1. Tom Brady: 32
2. Joe Montana: 16
3. Peyton Manning: 14
4. John Elway: 14
5. Terry Bradshaw: 14

He’s lapped the competition.

Here’s how active quarterbacks fare:

6. Ben Roethlisberger: 13
10. Aaron Rodgers: 11
11. Joe Flacco: 10
12. Russell Wilson: 9
12. Drew Brees: 9
28. Patrick Mahomes: 5
28. Philip Rivers 5

Playoff wins are certainly not exclusively a quarterback stat. Coaching, defense, weapons, offensive line and roster construction play a major factor. But when you’ve doubled the next closest competition? Come on.

Brady also is doing a pretty good job this season disproving any “system quarterback” talk when he’s winning outside of New England and away from head coach Bill Belichick.

At least one person will make — or already has made — the case that Rodgers is better than Brady as Sunday’s NFC Championship Game between the Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers nears. Maybe they’ll call Rodgers the best ever and Brady the most accomplished. It’s a ridiculous argument, and the GOAT QB question was settled once and for all after Brady’s Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI when the QB helped New England come back from a seemingly impossible 28-3 deficit.

That Super Bowl win saw Brady pass Sid Luckman, Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw and tie Bart Starr on the all-time championship list. Brady further cemented his status with the Patriots’ Super Bowl LIII win, when he then passed Starr.

Rodgers, meanwhile, is looking for his second Super Bowl win and, at 37 years old, would need the most astonishing late-career resurgence in professional sports history to pass Brady at this point.

Brady now has a .744 winning percentage in the postseason. He’s made a conference championship game in 14 of his 19 seasons as a starting quarterback. He’s won nine conference championships and has a chance at double-digits Sunday.

It’s an imperfect comparison, but if Brady is Michael Jordan, then Rodgers, as good as he is, is not even LeBron James. In some alternate reality, Rodgers could have been Brady with the right coaching, teammates and system around him. But we don’t live in that reality, and the circumstances favor Brady even if that’s unfair to Rodgers.

The only current quarterback who potentially has a shot to catch Brady on the GOAT list is Mahomes. And he would need to win a Super Bowl this season and next to keep up with Brady’s early career arc. Mahomes, like Rodgers, will almost certainly outproduce Brady by efficiency metrics. The question is whether he can get close in wins and championships. And it will take Brady’s durability and longevity, and quite a bit of good fortune, to get close to him.

Rodgers has been and continues to be a tremendous quarterback. He’s among the best of all time, and he might be, to this point in his career, the most efficient quarterback in league history or the greatest statistical quarterback in NFL history. But he’s not the greatest. Only one quarterback holds that distinction, and he’ll be wearing red, bay orange and pewter while playing for another conference title Sunday.

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