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Cory's Corner: Aaron Rodgers isn't the GOAT

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Cory's Corner: Aaron Rodgers isn't the GOAT

The National Football League will enter its 97th season this fall.

In that time we’ve seen great teams like the 1960s Packers, 1990s Cowboys or the Patriots of the 2000s.

But pinpointing whom the best player is has always been a tough thing to gauge.

The quarterback is far and away the most important player on the field. And we’ve seen plenty. Joe Montana, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers especially stands out because of his precision. He has always been known as one of the best passers ever but thanks to some keen detective work by Elisha Twerski, he will become the first quarterback to throw 300 touchdowns while throwing less than 100 picks. He currently has 297 touchdowns and only 72 picks, which is an absurd 4.1 touchdowns per interception. Brady is throwing three touchdowns per pick.

So the question is, how much are Super Bowls worth? Can Rodgers be a better quarterback even though Brady is beating him in the rings department 5-1? I would say that Brady has innate value that cannot be measured. Brady threw two or less touchdowns five times last year and still finished with a remarkable 28 touchdowns and a miniscule two interceptions.

Brady’s leadership is also something that lends itself to winning. When Rodgers was sniping at coach Mike McCarthy, Brady was giving boring answers and promising to get better. Rodgers might be the smartest guy in the room but he also tells you that he is, while Brady has been a student of humility thanks to being married to a woman that makes $26.5 million a year.

I think Rodgers is the best passer I’ve ever seen. He continues to drop jaws by making throws in the tiniest of windows with defenders draped all over him. But in terms of best quarterback, I’m still going with Brady.

Notice I said best quarterback, not best player. My best player in NFL history is surprisingly not a quarterback. That may be hard to compute for some because quarterbacks have been placed on such a pedestal in the last 15 years.

My best player in NFL history is Jerry Rice. In 20 years, Rice averaged over 1,000 yards a season. He’s the career leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He’s 224 receptions ahead of Tony Gonzalez, 6,961 yards in front of Terrell Owens and 41 receiving touchdowns ahead of Randy Moss. Those are records that will never be broken. Rice is the unicorn of the NFL and he did it when the highly emphasized passing game was still in its infancy. And to top it all off, he won three rings.

Just to put Rice’s numbers in perspective, in 1987 he broke the single season touchdown record with 22 (which was later broke by Randy Moss in 2007). Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith has thrown more than 22 touchdown passes in a season only once.

Did Rice benefit from a superior quarterback? Sure. But Rice also went to the Pro Bowl as a 40-year-old while catching passes from 37-year-old Rich Gannon in Oakland.

Rodgers’ perfectionism has allowed him to be the most efficient passer of all-time. However, touchdown-to-interception ratio metrics don’t make him the best player.


Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Horse's picture

Take a vacation.

The TKstinator's picture

I'm taking one.
From my problems!
(Advice from Dr. Leo Marvin)

CJ Bauckham's picture

'Brady has been a student of humility thanks to being married to a woman that makes $26.5 million a year.'


Tundraboy's picture

Exactly. Lmao on that one.

carusotrap's picture

Another click-baity article from Cory. Not so much the content, but the headline. Well-played, considering we all took the bait and clicked.

Tundraboy's picture

I bit.

Tundraboy's picture

Love Rodgers and Rodgers career is not yet complete, but for now, I have to say that the Goat, to me the most big time player,is Joe Montana. Almost never saw a game where you doubted he would find a way to win.

Anderson44's picture

I agree with that. I have been watching football since the late 50's and Montana was the GOAT IMHO. A number of greats (Unitas, Starr, Elway, Rodgers, Favre etc. etc.) after him but Montana is the GOAT. "Almost never saw a game where you doubted he would find a way to win." Well said and spot on.

Since '61's picture

I would agree that Rodgers is not the GOAT yet. But he will be. You choose Brady as the best QB and you can have him. Dan Marino was a better QB and he didn't win any SBs. If you base your argument on SBs than I could argue for Bart Starr who won 5 NFL Championships in 7 years including 3 in a row. Yes, 3 of his championships were not today's SB but isn't the Super Bowl just a different name for winning the NFL Championship? And if nothing else I would rather have Starr for his integrity, his leadership and being a complete gentleman, rather than a brash, boastful, cheating Brady.
Top 5 QBs:
1. Unitas
2. Montana
3. Marino
4. P. Manning
5. A. Rodgers

I would probably put Brady 6th.

Brady has played on better overall teams than Rodgers and has won more SBs. Yes he was one play away from losing all 5 that NE won, especially the last 2. Plus Brady cheats.
I can give you Jerry Rice as best WR ever, but not best player. Rice never won an MVP award. Best player remains Jim Brown, 2 MVPs and 1000 yard rusher multiple times when the league played only 12 game seasons. Brown was the most feared offensive player in league history. He could score from anywhere on the field at any time.
Traveling today so I need to go now, but maybe more on this later. Thanks, Since '61

dobber's picture

What your rankings help to point out is that the "non-static" nature of the NFL rulebook makes it nearly impossible to compare QBs from one era to the next. Maybe we can compare QBs who played as contemporaries, but even a comparison of Brady or ARod to someone like Montana or Marino suffers from changes in the rulebook. There's no way to project what Montana or Marino would do in the pass-happy, QB-friendly NFL of the 2000s...

Since '61's picture

Dobber - I think that Unitas, Starr, Montana, Marino, Bradshaw and the other greats would have been great QBs in this era just like Rodgers, Brady, P. Manning, Favre and Brees would be great QBs in any earlier era. All of the greats share common characteristics which would be effective in any era. They are great passers of the football in the pocket, they all have good to great arms, they all make good decisions with the football (except for Favre, but in fairness to him at the time he had more attempts than anyone else when he retired and more TD passes as well). They were all durable with at least 10 year careers and more like 15 seasons by the time Rodgers and Brees are done. They all have strong leadership qualities. Rodgers, in particular, adds the dimension of being deadly outside the pocket and on the move. While I agree that we don't know what the QBs from earlier eras would achieve in the current era I think we could assume that they would be very effective QBs in today's game. It sure would be fun to watch. Thanks, Since '61

chugwater's picture


I've loved your posts for many years, but I just can't agree that all of these QBs are/were interchangeable. The style, rules, nutrition, high school recruiting, popularity, college recruiting, workout regime, team rosters, etc all play into QBs success. Free agency starting in the 60s? Personal foul/rushing QB calls of today instituted in the 70s? Who knows what NFL history would like like today.

I will say this. I Don't know if AR would have been a HOF had he played in the 70s or 80s. The ONLY reason why I say that is his durability. He's had injuries that have kept him out of games. Old school rules might have made his injuries more severe.

But man, when he is on he is ON. Mobility...arm strength...accuracy.

Tell me another player who has his panache besides Steve Young.

Nick Perry's picture

"Brady has played on better overall teams than Rodgers and has won more SBs."

Brady plays for an organization who typically will explore every avenue every season to improve their football team. Look at this season for example, Bill Belichick trades his 1st and 3rd round picks (#32 & 103) to the Saints for Cooks and the Saints 4th round pick (#118). Then he moves on to Carolina and acquires Kony Ealy and Carolina's 3rd round pick for the Patriots 2nd round pick. They essentially got Ealy for moving back 8 spots from the 64th pick in the draft to the 72nd pick in the draft. Throw in the move for Dwayne Allen (Pats 4th rounder for Allen and the Colts 6th rounder) and you have a start to a pretty decent off season.

The Patriots added 2 quality starters and a decent backup TE BEFORE Free Agency has even started and the draft is still 50 or so days away. Would Ted Thompson do something like that? Obviously Thompson has his ways of doing things and trading draft picks isn't part of it. Rodgers and Brady are both good for about 10 wins a year. It's what the GM puts around him that determines how many more they'll get.

IMO the Packers have left at least 2 SB's on the table due to Thompson's inactivity in Free Agency. I can only wonder "What If" about the 2011 or 2014 seasons for example. A Safety and pass rusher in 2011....Maybe a REAL TE in 2014 instead of continuing to wait on Bostick in 2014 and Rodgers suddenly has 3 rings and IS the GOAT. I like what Ted has done this season though and can only hope he continues to operate this way in FA as long as he's still the Packers GM.

CheesyTex's picture

Nick Perry I am 80 years old and a lifetime football junkie. I love your insights into the game, and into the dynamics of what it takes to make a team win.

Tundraboy's picture


Tundraboy's picture

Perfection NP. Last two paragraphs really hit home.

Ferrari Driver's picture


I'll give you a thumbs up on that point about the aggressive free agency work by by Belichick the Patriots GM. Also the Patriots head coach, Belichick seems to out-coach all his peers as well.

Rodgers would thrive on that team; more so than Brady, IMO.

Since '61's picture

Nick - I agree that the Packers have left at least 2 SBs on the table, although I think that I think they should have won in 2007 and in 2014. Those two teams had better defenses than the 2011 Packers. In fact the Packers lost in 2007 because of their offense rather than their defense against the NYG in the NFCCG. Favre was no longer longer effective in the cold and the Packers run game was completely stuffed by the Giants D. We all know about the collapse in 2014 against Seattle and I agree that another veteran FA or 2 on the defense may have prevented the defense's embarrassing collapse during the last 3+ minutes of the game. People blame Bostick and he definitely blew the onside kick but the defense was on the field for all 4 of Seattle's TDs. The defense should have prevented Seattle's 1st TD and they had the 2 point conversion beat if Dix just knocks down the ball. In 2011 we lost Collins and the defense never recovered. It's difficult, at least for me, to think of an FA safety we could have signed that would have been as effective as Collins. And I'm not sure another pass rusher would have made a difference in the playoff game against the Giants. Our offense did not have a good game that day either. In any case we should have at least 2 more SBs. Who knows, what goes around comes around, so maybe there are 2 more SBs in our future. Either way, it's been a hell of a ride. Thanks, Since '61

chugwater's picture

Nick and S61,

Can we lay any of the blame for the 2014 NFCCG at the feet of the offensive players on the field? We hear over and over and over and over and over again about the Burnett INT slide, the Bostick onside mishandling, the HHCD two point conversion botch, and Williams getting burned at the end.

If I were to tell you before kickoff that the GB defense would hold the SEA offense (or even ATL this past January) to no touchdowns thru the first 57 minutes of a conference championship game, would you take it? If GB were to lose that game, who would you hold accountable with AR taking the snaps?

Nobody mentions the offensive getting 3 points after two first and goal attempts. Or having the ball in SEA territory after the Burnett INT but getting no points. It's all TT, Dom Capers, the defense, and special teams. We all turn a blind eye to the offense who could have put this one away early.

I agree they could have had a second ring, but you're being very selective in who you're holding accountable. They had the personnel, they just didn't execute. That includes the offense.

Since '61's picture

First, the defense allowed a TD in the 3rd quarter of the game.
But more to your point, if I told you that the Packers would have a 16-0 lead at halftime against Seattle on the road with an injured Aaron Rodgers would you take it? I would. I would sign up for that now this season.
Second if I told you that the Packers would have a 12 point lead with less than 4 minutes to play, again on the road in Seattle with an injured Aaron Rodgers, again, would you take it? I would sign for that again right now.
Yes, the offense did not finish those early drives but the Packers still played the entire game with a lead. They had a 12 point lead with less than 3 minutes to play. The defense allowed Seattle's 2 TDs and the OT TD. Suppose the Packers lead was 29-17 or 39-27. Would the offense have enough points then? It's a 12 point lead with less than 4 minutes to play and the defense collapsed regardless of how many points were previously scored. The point is, that the Seattle defense held the Packers offense to FGs early in the game and the Packers defense folded late in the game when it mattered the most. That's the difference between championship defense and not a championship defense. In the playoffs the offense is going to face better defenses and probably score less points, especially when the QB is playing on one leg. The fact is that our defense has not measured up in the playoffs since 2010 while playing with an MVP/HOF QB. Thanks, Since '61

chugwater's picture

I agree the defense made mistakes. I'm just not turning a blind eye and absolving the offense for being ineffective when they had their opportunities and squandered them. Especially with an MVP/HOF QB at the helm. (That's the difference betweeen championship offense and not a championship offense.)

Anderson44's picture

Amen to that. The offense went into a shell way to early. Had 'em on the ropes but couldn't put them away. Lots of blame to go around including the overly conservative offense.

Tundraboy's picture

"Brown was the most feared offensive player in league history. He could score from anywhere on the field at any time."

Well said Since 61. Nobody wanted to have to tackle him in the open field. Proof positive how great the 60s Packers were.

Since '61's picture

Lombardi's defense, especially in the post-season was the best of all time.
Back to back championship games without allowing an offensive score ('61 and '62). Jim Brown retired after the Packers held him to 50 yards rushing in the '65 Championship Game. 104 points allowed in 10 playoff games. Plenty of other examples, but that's enough said for now. That's one GOAT that I'm sure of, for any era or any time. Thanks, Since '61

Tundraboy's picture

Great points Since 61. I wonder how many subpar games Brown ever had and how many were against the Packers. I'll have to research that.

Pack88's picture

Since 61, I wrote this somewhere else and this is my take on this subject!!I think every angle of this discussion has been covered from Brady is GOAT to he's not that Starr was lucky, era's are different, stats matter they don't matter game is better today its worse today, but for me have you ever noticed in Brady's 7 Superbowl Appearance's  a single score  separated the winners and Brady needed two flukes and cheating to win those 5 titles so spare me the Goat Talk.  I have seen all 51 Superbowls  and the precursor's back to 1958- greatest pass in those games is to me that throw to Jennings on 3 rd and 11 with 3 minutes and change left in SB 45. 

 Greatest drive is still the 67 NFL title game in GB.  Those 68 yards on a brutally frozen field still stands as a testament to greatness and no matter the era and no matter the rules 68 yards on a frozen field late in the 4th quarter long before legalized holding on the O-line and the wider field opened up the passing game 11 very tired cold men were driven to succeed by one man- Bart Starr.  On a team with only 40 players no 5 wide receivers 7 defensive backs and more specialist's than an orthopedic hospital Starr willed those men down the field and broke the opponents will with 15 seconds left.  Obviously my affinity for Starr colors this view but for the numbers don't lie - Starr was 9-1 in playoff games and had the highest playoff  QB rating of all time, so  I'll take Starr!  My last comment about this issue the only playoff game Starr didn't win- Lombardi lost that game. Right before half time at Franklin Field Lombardi went for 7 instead of the pretty sure 3 and that three was the tipping point!

Since '61's picture

Pack88 - I agree with you on the 1960 NFL Championship game against the Eagles. Lombardi should have taken the 3 but he went for the game ender. He realized his error and that is why he told the team after the game that they would never lose another championship game again, going 9-0 in the post-season after that loss to the Eagles. Bart was a great QB. He could beat you with his head, his heart and his leadership skills. Most importantly he rarely hurt his own team with his decision making or with bad throws. He preferred the sack to an errant pass. But in fairness Bart never had the arm that Unitas, Namath, Favre, Elway, P. Manning and Rodgers possess, to name a few. Bart also played with a great all-time defense and IMO, as I posted earlier in this article, the best post-season defense of all time. This allowed Bart to take a sack or be conservative on a 3rd down because he knew that his defense would get him the ball back and the Ice Bowl is a perfect example. As you mentioned Starr and the Packers offense put together a near perfect drive for the winning TD against the Cowboys, the elements and their own exhaustion. But remember the Packers defense really only gave up one play that day and that was the option pass from Reeves to Rentzel on the 1st play of the 4th quarter that put Dallas ahead 17-14. Dallas' other 10 points came off of two second quarter turnovers by the Packers. First a strip sack of Starr with George Andrie covering Starr's fumble in the end zone for a TD and then Willie Wood fumbled a punt and the Cowboys kicked an FG. Dallas scored 10 points in the 2nd quarter of the Ice Bowl without making a first down. Then in the second half they were held to the one option play by the Packers D. All that put Starr and the offense in position to drive the final 68 yards and capture their third consecutive NFL title. BTW, this season (2017) marks the 50th anniversary of that historic season and great game. Thanks, Since '61

Anderson44's picture

That 1960 game was a tough one to win. The Packers were a very young team going up against an experienced Eagles team and Norm VanBrocklin played very well at QB. Seems like he hooked up Tommy McDonald on a number of crucial plays to maintain possession. Different era for sure. That was the first game I remember watching on TV and was so frustrated I cried. Geez. Maybe the Packers could've won that game but the Eagles did play pretty well and were tough to beat that day.

marpag1's picture

"11 very tired cold men were driven to succeed by one man- Bart Starr ... Starr willed those men down the field and broke the opponents will with 15 seconds left."

Not trying to pick a fight, Pack88, but this statement kind of exemplifies everything I can't stand about today's QB worshiping view of football. In addition to Bart Starr, there were SEVEN future Hall of Famers on that roster. Admittedly, most of them were on defense. One of those seven was an offensive player that Lombardi called "the finest player I've ever coached" - and it wasn't Bart Starr. So there were eight hall of fame players, one hall of fame coach, and I think we all admit that Jerry Kramer ought to be in the Hall as well, but isn't.

So we had the utterly phenomenal situation on a 40 man roster where a staggering 25% of the team are future Hall members! Are we really saying that one man "willed the team to victory?" Was it BART STARR who was 9-1 in the playoffs? Or did one of the greatest rosters ever assembled in any sport possibly have something to do with it?

Really, when does it EVER happen in any sport that a single player "wills his team to victory?" It's a weak cliche. It's 10% legitimate good leadership and 90% silliness.

To me, all of this "GOAT" crap is... well... goat crap.

Ferrari Driver's picture

Oh yeah, be sure to bring up that old farce about how many Super Bowl wins the quarterback has won. What a joke!

Dilfer has one; Doug Williams has one. Both of those guys should put guys like Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, and Archie Manning to shame with that criterion.

Cory, did you write on this topic just to aggravate Cheesehead readers ?

snowdog's picture

I'm going to start reading " War and Peace " for the next 2 weeks .

Rossonero's picture

Who said he was the GOAT? His career is far from over. This is an article for 2022, not 2017. Sheesh.

Matt Gonzales's picture

Isn't Brady usually getting in his teammates' faces, though?

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

I agree!! Without question Brady at this point is the GOAT!! You can't take away what he has accomplished. He has the stats, wins, & Rings. Montana was a Great QB!!, but he had Great Teams around him. Brady has had some Good Teams around him, but not as Good as Montana's. Both showed the ability to carry a team.

There have been a lot of Great QB's. Favre, Elway, Brady & Montana need to be mentioned in the same sentence. All got better at the end of their careers, something AR hasn't done yet. If he does, then he deserves some consideration to be the GOAT, but not yet. I'm a fan of AR's, as I am of Favre & Brady. I'm not a fan of Elway, but I have to give credit, where credit is due.

Peyton Manning doesn't even deserve to be mentioned. He's a Coward!! He ran from Brady like a wounded puppy. He wasn't about to play in Miami & knock heads with Brady twice a year, just to make the playoffs. He's not even in my top 10.

Unitas, Starr, Tarkenton, & Bradshaw were all Great QB's, so was Theisman, but they can't be put into this conversation. It's like comparing the Jack Nicklaus golf ball & clubs, to the golf ball & clubs of today, or the Dick Weber bowling ball to the bowling balls they have today.

Like it or Not, Brady is in a class by himself, until someone like AR passes him up. AR is a long way from doing that in my opinion. AR is probably playing in the easiest division to make the playoff's. That's going to be a knock against him. If he could start dominating the playoff's without a Defense, there's no question he would be considered the GOAT. He won't get there, no matter what stats he winds up posting, unless they come with Rings. He'll become another Dan Marino. One more thing: Brady is 40 years old, & looks younger than AR. Brady's story to me, doesn't look like it's ending anytime soon.

Tundraboy's picture

Agree with nearly everything, but "AR is probably playing in the easiest division to make the playoff's"

AFC east has been a breeze for years.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Tundraboy, You may be Right. I won't argue that.

dschwalm's picture

Corey, your logic is flawed albeit extremely subjective with little evidence.
One other tip: Take a grammar lesson.

LayingTheLawe's picture

Great throwers of the ball do not make GOAT discussions. Marino or Fouts or Tarkenton are never going to get in the top 5. For better or worse the QB position is judged by wins and championships. No other position is, no one asks how many Championships a RB won. But for a QB the stats are only a part of the picture and Rodgers needs at least one more ring to even get in the discussion. With one Super Bowl Rodgers has a way to go to even be ahead of Drew Brees in the discussion, but once you have multiple championships you can go places.

chugwater's picture

I'll say this even though it's not Packer related.

I don't think Troy Aikman is a Hall of Famer. Had a superior O line, HOF RB. Well above average defense. They all carried him into Canton.

Nagler is famous for saying SB rings aren't a QB stat. I think Troy is the epitome of that sentiment.

Note - I say this as some one who loves it when Joe and Troy broadcast GB games. They are my favorite crew.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

I tend to agree with you on Aikman. I think Troy Aikman was a really good QB, but it is had to say how good he really was. He did have a Really Solid team around him. Favre I don't think ever beat Aikman.

Aikman is probably the opposite of Fran Tarkenton. I'm probably the only guy who thinks Fran Tarkenton was a Great QB. I'd use him as a stat for SB Rings not meaning much. Unfortunately without the Rings you'll never be considered Great, even if you are 5th or 6th all time in passing yardage like Tarkenton. It sure was fun watching him play. It's just my opinion, but the Great QB's of the past, are Great for different reasons. They've become legends in their own time. They set the bar for those to follow. Broadway Joe is a Legend for 1 game. Bradshaw with 4 Rings. Montana with 4 Rings, & maybe the Greatest Monday Night game I ever saw after San Fran cut him loose. Starr had a Great team, but when it was 3rd 9, or 4th & 1, he somehow got it. That's what made all those guy's great. They got the job done. Thinking it over, I'd say it might be easier for the QB's of the past to play in today's game, than it would for today's QB's to go back & play when Football was still a contact sport. The fact is, you can't compare & we'll never know. I know I've seen what I feel were a lot of Great QB'S.

Tundraboy's picture

Spot on LTV. Great perspective.

4thand1's picture

back to back HOF QB's, what else could any fan of any team ask for? Lets ride it out and see what happens.

BradHTX's picture

Anyone sports writer who says Jerry Rice was the greatest player in NFL history knows nothing of the history of the team he covers.

Extrapolate Don Hutson's career statistics to the modern era and it's not even close.

Since '61's picture

Excellent point! Thanks, Since '61

Flow49's picture

GOAT is obviously a tie between Shane Falco and Willie Beamen. Brady is a distant 3rd.

The TKstinator's picture

You can find their replacements on any given Sunday.

dobber's picture

I see what you did there...

Chad Lundberg's picture

Aaron Rodgers can play better than Tom Brady, therefore Rodgers is the better player. Seriously, why do people try so hard to complicate this shit?

SB rings don't make you play better, they're not magic.

The TKstinator's picture

Football is the ultimate team game. It takes much more than one great player (even at QB) to win the SB.

vj_ostrowski's picture

"Brady has been a student of humility"

From the writer who vocally hates millennials and touchdown dances: we bring you this unbelievably milquetoast take.

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