Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady: Who's the GOAT in pop culture?

Kendra Meinert
Green Bay Press-Gazette
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Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady

Tom Brady vs. Aaron Rodgers.

They both grew up in California, both wear No. 12 and both have fans who will tell you theirs is the GOAT — greatest of all time.

One is 43, has his own line of TB12 limited-edition "Tampa Brady" T-shirts and celebrated his 40th birthday at training camp with goats dressed in New England Patriots gear. The other is 37, part-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks and photo-bombed Common on the Oscars red carpet.

On Sunday, the two quarterbacks face off for only the fourth time in their careers when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game at Lambeau Field.

It’s the kind of epic matchup that has amped up the GOAT debate, so while the great football minds go head-to-head on that, let's take a timeout for a more lighthearted look at how the two stack up off the field in the world of pop culture. 

Everybody knows him as a pitchman for ...

Brady: Long before he began hawking UGG men’s footwear in the early 2000s, Brady was wearing it. He told USA TODAY in 2016 that the comfy slippers have been his go-to since his mom bought him his first pair when he was 13 or 14. “They’re the only shoes I can wear in the house because my wife doesn’t want to let anyone wear shoes in the house.” Famous co-stars in the campaign: Jeff Bridges; former Patriots teammate Julian Edelman; his dad, Tom Brady Sr.; his mom, Galynn Brady; and the Brady family pit bull mix, Lua.

Rodgers: He has a long history of working with State Farm, dating to the series of “discount double check” ads that first turned his championship belt move into an insurance company catchphrase in 2011. Famous co-stars in the campaign: Patrick Mahomes; Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon (as Hans & Franz); former Packers teammates Clay Matthews, Randall Cobb and B.J. Raji; actor David Haydn-Jones; the "Hey Rodgers!" guy with the curly hair and the Cheesehead; and Rigsbee, an Australian blue heeler. 

The edge: Rodgers. There was a time Brady would've come out on top here for obvious reasons (see "The Dude abides"), but State Farm upped the game in the last two seasons by pairing Rodgers with Mahomes, even if the creativity of the ads hasn't always measured up to the MVP-ness of its two stars. 

Their famous significant others

Brady: He’s been married to Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen (they met on a blind date) since 2009. They have two children, Benjamin, 11, and Vivian, 8, and are sometimes referred to as "The Brady Bundch." Brady also dated “Blue Bloods” actress and model Bridget Moynahan from 2004 to 2006. They have a 13-year-old son, Jack, together.

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots celebrates with wife Gisele Bundchen and daughter Vivian Brady after defeating the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl LI in 2017.

Rodgers: He dated former race car driver Danica Patrick for more than two years before the couple ended their relationship last year. All has been quiet on Rodgers dating watch since. He had previously dated actress Olivia Munn for three years. They split in 2017. 

The edge: Not touching this one with a 50-yard pole.

Driver Danica Patrick stands with Aaron Rodgers, quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, on the grid prior to the Daytona 500 in 2018.

Their sketch comedy abilities

Brady: Coming off the Patriots’ third Super Bowl win in four years, Brady hosted “Saturday Night Live” in 2005. His monologue was a song-and-dance number that touted his many talents beyond football, including holding his breath underwater for an hour and a half, killing a horse with his bare hands and winning the Tour de France with no pants. Sketches ranged from a sexual harassment in the workplace PSA in which he showed up in his underwear to a spoof of the Chicago Bears’ “Super Bowl Shuffle” that had him playing Jim McMahon. Reviews were mixed but not exactly Peyton Manning United Way skit caliber.

Rodgers: He made a case for his comedic chops when he showed up in an “I, Tonya” parody with Patrick during the 2018 ESPY Awards. He had the benefit of filming “Me, Danica” ahead of time, not live, but his take as a dweeby boyfriend in glasses and a fake mustache was spot-on for the spoof of the 2017 Tonya Harding biopic. And let’s not forget his appearance in a very funny 2015 "Key & Peele" Super Bowl sketch that mocked NFL player introductions on game broadcasts. No. 12 shows up at the end to introduce himself as “A.A. Ron Rodgers.”

The edge: Rodgers. He's honed his comedic timing and knack for deadpan humor in all those State Farm ads, and he's not afraid to poke fun at himself. It's just a matter of time before he's tapped to host "SNL."

A few famous friends

Brady: He has referred to pals Matt Damon (who co-starred with him in 2013's “Stuck on You”), Mark Wahlberg and Ben Affleck as his “Boston crew.” In 2016, Affleck and Damon even made a video in which they argue about who is really the best friend of “Tommy,” “T-Bone,” “Touchdown Tommy” ...

Rodgers: He's visited “South Park” studios with country singer Brad Paisley (who also had him walk out onstage during one of his Green Bay shows), attended Ellen DeGeneres’ birthday party (where Ryan Seacrest didn’t know who he was), hung out with Justin Timberlake and grilled with Chris Pratt.

The edge: Brady. His "Boston Crew" is wicked strong. 

Their taste in music

Brady: During Super Bowl LII week in 2018, when asked which artists help get him centered, he rattled off Jay-Z, Coldplay, U2, Pearl Jam and Kendrick Lamar. Last year, he released his go-to pregame and workout playlist on Spotify. Among the tracks: "Yes Indeed" by Lil Baby & Drake, "Believer" by Imagine Dragons, "Public Service Announcement" by Jay-Z, "Bad Boy for Live" by Diddy, "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" by U2 and "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay.

Rodgers: He's a Pearl Jam fan, too. During a 2017 interview, he confessed that “Just Breathe” is one of his go-to karaoke songs (so is "Wind of Change" by the Scorpions, whistling included). He said meeting Eddie Vedder before a Pearl Jam concert in Milwaukee was one of the highlights of his life. His pregame playlist often includes Bon Iver, Trevor Hall, Nahko, Lord Huron, Counting Crows, Nirvana and Foo Fighters, he said during a 2019 appearance on Patrick's "Pretty Intense" podcast.

The edge: Toss-up. No embarrassing acts on either side ... that we could find.

Fashion sense at high-profile events 

Brady: He and Gisele are regulars at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute benefit, better known as the Met Gala. Considered the gold standard of parties — tickets are $30,000 each — it’s a who’s who of jaw-dropping celebrity fashion. He wore a Versace tuxedo jacket with gold embroidery on the lapels in 2018 that unleashed a storm of social media mockery. Golf Digest’s The Loop said he looked “like The Man With the Golden Gun undercover as Wayne Newton performing lounge jazz covers of Metallica’s ‘Black Album.’”

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and wife Gisele Bundchen arrive for the 2018 Met Gala on May 7 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Rodgers: One way to not get ridiculed for what you wear? Go full-on, over-the-top on purpose. Rodgers has a tradition of showing up for the Welcome Back Packers Luncheon, a fundraiser for the Greater Green Bay Chamber, in quirky couture. He once made his entrance at the Lambeau Field Atrium in an all-denim ensemble, complete with a replica of a tux jacket made for Bing Crosby in 1951. Past fashion statements have been inspired by “Men in Black” and Team USA, but he’s definitely partial to denim and cowboy hats.

The edge: Brady. He's got that whole male model, "Blue Steel" from "Zoolander" thing down. Plus, bonus points for somehow still having the skin of a 20-year-old. That's not to say Titletown doesn't appreciate the versatility of a quarterback who can both star in IZOD commercials with Colin Jost and rock an impressive Sam Elliott mustache.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers greets people at his table during the Green Bay Chamber of Commerce Welcome Back Packers Luncheon at Lambeau Field in 2018.

TV credits

Brady: He made a cameo on “Entourage” in 2009, and voiced himself on “Family Guy” for a 2006 episode titled “Patriot Games” and for a 2005 episode of “The Simpsons” titled “Homer and Ned’s Hail Mary Pass.” Wahlberg talked him into a cameo as the perfect sperm donor in "Ted 2" in 2015. He did a six-episode documentary series about his training regimen and home life on Facebook Watch called “Tom vs. Time" in 2018.

Rodgers: A fan of game shows, he beat out Erin Andrews on “The $100,000 Pyramid” in 2017 (and helped his partner win $100,000), got his own episode of the ABC game show “Big Fan,” and earned $50,000 for the MACC Fund by winning “Celebrity Jeopardy!” in 2015. (He also got host Alex Trebek to do his championship belt move, so there's that.) He just recently landed the prestigious gig as a guest host on "Jeopardy!," to be filmed during the offseason. And who could forget his “10 milliseconds” of screen time on the second-to-last episode of "Game of Thrones" in 2019.

The edge: Too close to call. Brady's credits carry more pop culture weight, but it's one thing to lend your voice to an animated character and it's another to put yourself out there, buzz in and know who led 210 soldiers on an attack of an Indian village in 1876. 

Instagram stats

Brady: Joined on Jan. 7, 2017; 613 posts, 7.9 million followers.

Rodgers: Joined on June 1, 2017; 214 posts; 1.5 million followers.

The edge: Brady. The numbers speak for themselves. But his account doesn't include a photo with the Dalai Lama. Just sayin'.

'I'm going to Disney World!' delivery

Brady: With six Super Bowl wins and four Super Bowl MVP awards, he's had some practice with the iconic Disney World commercials. 

Rodgers: It's hard to beat the excitement of the first time. 

The edge: Viewers' choice. 

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