Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady should have gone down as one of the great quarterback rivalries in NFL history, perhaps the greatest. Arguably the two greatest quarterbacks ever to play the sport are in the league at the exact same time, both still producing at a high level.
We should have had one battle after another of Rodgers and Brady one-upping each other in classic games, with their paths crossing in January (or February?) multiple times with games we could tell our kids we watched live.
Forget Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady. It was minuscule in comparison to what could have been.
All of that was just a small window into what we could’ve had if Rodgers and Brady had played in the same conference.
But in its cruel way, the NFL has kept them almost completely separated. Brady has spent his entire career in the AFC, Rodgers the NFC. They were set to meet in a very hyped up December game in 2010, but Rodgers suffered a concussion the week prior against Detroit and had to pass the baton to Matt Flynn.
They’ve been in the same postseason eight times, and never found their way to the same Super Bowl. We looked destined for it in 2015 when the Patriots made the Super Bowl and the Packers had a 19-7 lead with less than three minutes to go to meet Brady.
Then one of the most ridiculous finishes to an NFL playoff game ever unfolded. Every single one of the dozen or so things the Seahawks needed to happen in the final two minutes went off without a hitch, and we got a New England vs. Seattle Super Bowl instead.
All of it has culminated in one sad truth.
Rodgers and Brady have faced once in their careers. It was a November 2014 clash at Lambeau Field, with the Packers coming out on top 26-21. It absolutely lived up to the hype, with the two quarterbacks combining for 613 passing yards and four touchdowns in a game that was close throughout. Beyond that, the two have no history. None.
The only stadium in the league Rodgers has never played in (Excluding the Chargers’ temporary home in Carson they moved to last season) is the one Tom Brady has called home since 2001. Go figure.
This generation of sports fans have been robbed of something truly special. The older fans out there can draw on Roger Staubach’s Cowboys and Terry Bradshaw’s Steelers meeting in two Super Bowls in four seasons. Two of the best quarterbacks ever meeting on the grandest stage of all twice.
The basketball fans reading this can look at the two best players on the planet in the 80s, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, meeting in the NBA Finals three times in four years. The hockey followers amongst us can attest to how special it has been two see two Future Hall of Famers in their prime in Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin meet in the playoffs in each of the past three seasons.
Brady and Rodgers have over 100,000 passing yards combined, 830 touchdowns, five NFL MVPs, and six Super Bowl wins between them. Not that you guys needed the stats to back up their greatness, but it does illustrate the absurdity of having two quarterbacks this good in the league at the same time for an extended run like this. But they still only have one matchup.
And that’s not likely to change. The NFL’s schedule rotation won’t bring the Packers and Patriots together again until 2022. Tom Brady will be 45. Unless Brady is still in the league, or New England and Green Bay face off in a Super Bowl, Sunday will be the second and somehow final meeting between Brady and Rodgers.
A book that should’ve had scores of pages full of tales of instant classics will almost certainly close with just a few scribbles recounting regular season games.
The NFL Gods have worked tirelessly for over a decade to make sure you couldn’t savor the two greatest quarterbacks in NFL history sharing a field. So for this rare but beautiful meeting between the two, enjoy it. It’s all you have.