Best QB ever? Rodgers in the conversation
It may be the best debate in sports. Who's the greatest quarterback of all time? Take your pick.
Peyton Manning has the numbers. Joe Montana has the rings. John Elway has the complete set of physical tools. Brett Favre has the durability.
Versatility is the best part of this discussion. It depends on perspective. Several names can be thrown into the ring, legitimate cases to be made for each. On Monday, Green Bay Packers guard Josh Sitton presented a new argument.
What about Aaron Rodgers, he thought.
"I think he's the best maybe to ever play," Sitton said while he sat at his locker. "Nothing really surprises me with him."
Sitton quickly rephrased. The play Rodgers made against the Miami Dolphins last week, when he made two defensive players miss while extending a play long enough to find receiver Randall Cobb in the end zone? That was jaw-dropping, Sitton said.
Short of that, he quit being surprised a long time ago.
So Sitton doesn't flinch when Rodgers' current streak of 18 consecutive touchdown passes without an interception are mentioned. He shrugs at Rodgers' four straight games with at least three touchdowns and no interceptions. These are the realities of playing football with Rodgers. One can get spoiled really quick.
"It's funny, I talk to old friends who have been here and are with other teams, and they don't really realize how good Aaron is until they go and play for someone else," Sitton said. "It's hard to realize, I guess, when he's all I've known. I expect that week in and week out."
So about the debate. Does Rodgers have a case? Rodgers' trademark – just as the greats listed above have their signature – is his efficiency.
No quarterback ever has avoided interceptions like him. Rodgers' career quarterback rating of 105.8 is the highest in NFL history, mostly because he's careful with the football. Indeed, his 1.7 interception percentage also is the best ever.
The argument has rarely been hotter than now, after Manning passed Favre on Sunday night for the all-time career touchdown passes record. In his seventh season as a starting quarterback, Rodgers already has amassed a special level of respect with his peers. When Sports Illustrated's Peter King asked Manning who might break his record, Rodgers was the only name he mentioned.
Rodgers reached 200 touchdowns faster than any quarterback in history. He's now sitting on 206. On average, Rodgers has been good for about 34 touchdowns per full season, and his stated goal is to play nine more seasons.
That puts Rodgers on pace for 515 career touchdowns. If he stays healthy, it could be a conservative projection.
Sitton thought about the numbers when asked Monday if he thought Rodgers has a chance to eventually pass Manning.
"He would have to play a long time, I feel like," Sitton said. "… It's probably not that possible, but if anybody could do it, he could."
Ultimately, longevity is the key. It took Manning 16 seasons to surpass 500 touchdowns. It would take Rodgers the better part of two decades, too.
The Packers' left guard knows his quarterback as well as anyone. Does Sitton see Rodgers playing long enough to chase down Manning, and maybe grab the greatest of all time title along with it?
"Aaron loves the game of football," Sitton said. "I mean, he's kind of mastered it, and he loves coming in every day and trying to do different things and learn new things and kind of get next level with the game. He's having a blast, and I could see him playing for another 10 years."