AP NEWS

Don’t Pass Up Chance to Catch Brady Vs. Rodgers

November 1, 2018

FOXBORO -- During the past decade if you were young, loved football and had dreams of being a quarterback, there’s a pretty good chance you modeled your game after Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers.

Whether it was Brady’s quick-thinking, fast-hitting style from the pocket, or Rodgers strong-armed, playmaking ability on the fly, you wanted to be one of the two quarterbacks considered in the category of greatest of all time.

Both are Super Bowl winners, both play so brilliantly at the position, the Brady and Rodgers wannabes couldn’t go wrong no matter which quarterback they chose to emulate.

“When I go around the country, and I see every young quarterback, they mention one of those two guys,” NFL Network contributor and former Super Bowl winning quarterback Trent Dilfer said when reached Tuesday. “You either grew up learning how to play the position with the precision of Tom Brady, or with the fluidity and natural athleticism of Aaron Rodgers.”

That’s part of the reason Sunday night’s primetime matchup is so appealing and the expectation meter is cranked up so high. Brady and Rodgers are the two best active quarterbacks in the game today while presenting contrasting styles of greatness, or, as ESPN described it, “GOATness.”

Opposites do attract, although looking back, the Brady-Peyton Manning pairing, with two pure pocket passers, provided great theater for the masses as well.

When Manning still was playing, that was the biggest rivalry in football and one of the major ones in all of sports.

Unlike the super Manning-Brady duels, with 17 of those battles on record, this highly anticipated showdown will mark just the second meeting between the two legends. And it could very well be their last given one of the combatants -- Brady -- is 41 years old.

The first bout between the two took place at Lambeau Field four years ago, as Rodgers and the Packers came out on top, 26-21. Rodgers threw for 368 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. This time around, you better believe Brady will be looking to even the score. That’s what legends do.

But first and foremost on Brady’s mind will be getting the Pats to 7-2, keeping their standing in the AFC, and not losing positioning with the Chiefs.

The competitor in him will want to outduel Rodgers, of course, but winning is the first priority. It’s that way for Rodgers, too. The Packers, who lost a tough game to the Rams last week, need a win.

“Obviously, the me and Tom stuff is for media fodder and it’s to obviously get people to tune in,” Rodgers said on a conference call. “But it’s Sunday Night Football -- we know there’s going to be a ton of people watching and it’s tough place to play up there. Obviously, they’re rolling. We’re trying to get things going here.”

Brady is six years older than Rodgers and says he’s been “inspired” and pushed by his counterpart. Rodgers said the feeling was mutual.

“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 has been at the top of his game for a long, long time ... I’ve always been a big fan of his,” Rodgers said. “The stuff he does on the field is phenomenal, then to see him as he gets older in his career continue to reinvent himself year after year and play at a high level every single season and win championships. He’s a phenomenal player, but he’s a pioneer as far as taking care of his body and re-writing the longevity books for players of his caliber. It’s been really impressive to watch.”

While Brady is considered the GOAT, Rodgers called him a unicorn.

“There’s not many like him,” Rodgers said.

Five Super Bowl wins. Four Super Bowl MVPs. Three NFL MVPs. Thirteen Pro Bowls. Still going strong at 41.

The unicorn fits.

Rodgers, who turns 35 next month, wants to follow Brady’s path and continue playing into his 40s if his body still feels good and he still loves the game the way he does now. So maybe this won’t be their last hookup.

“It’s obviously difficult in this day in age and not everybody can stay in the same spot and be able to kind of write their own final chapter,” Rodgers said. “But that’s definitely the goal.”

Patriots coach Bill Belichick was naturally effusive in his praise of Rodgers. While he doesn’t know what it’s like to game plan to play against Brady, he certainly does for Rodgers. That’s no picnic. He said Rodgers was “as good as anybody that I’ve faced and we’ve faced a lot of good ones through the years.”

“We only play Rodgers once every four years. I guess it would be good if we played him more than that, but you know what I mean,” Belichick said with a rare smile. “I’m in no rush to see him every week. I wouldn’t want to be in that division.”

Mike McCarthy is on the other side of the coin. Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine will be tasked at slowing down the GOAT, but the Packers head coach gets the significance of the matchup.

“How many times does it happen? If you truly love football, this is a fantastic opportunity to see two great players line up,” McCarthy said. “They don’t compete against each other, but I think these games are always great for football.”