You might have heard of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. At age 31, Rodgers has already accomplished so much in just 7 years as a starter.
And that’s why I believe he should be considered a Hall of Fame lock.
It’s not easy to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, and it’s especially tough for quarterbacks, especially when you consider hundreds of guys have played the position. Thousands have tried out at the position, only to get cut and not make the NFL. So really, it’s rare when you think about it, and that’s what makes a guy like Rodgers worth the vote. I explain why in several sections below.
Level of Play Has Been Surpassed By Only Few Quarterbacks
The common argument against making Aaron Rodgers a HOF lock right now is the usual: “He needs a few more good years to be considered.” A few? Who are you waiting on, Vinny Testaverde? This is 2011 and 2014 MVP Aaron Rodgers we’re talking about. That’s the kind of stuff Skip Bayless would say on First Take.
This particular argument is worthless because it promotes quantity over quality. Obviously a guy with 1-2 HOF worthy season like Brian Sipe or Bert Jones isn’t anywhere close to being considered, but 6-7 of Rodgers’ seasons as a starter are HOF worthy. Guys like Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, and Bart Starr were good but only got in because they were playoff gods. If they didn’t have the prolific performances come January, people would look at their regular season accomplishments and forget about it.
On the other hand, how many stretches of play have ever been as good as Rodgers’ was from 2008 to 2014? There are very few that I can say have been better. In 2011, he was playing at a level that has rarely been surpassed, and it’s up there with Tom Brady 2007, Peyton Manning 2004, Kurt Warner 1999, Brett Favre 1996, Steve Young 1994, Joe Montana 1989, and Dan Marino 1984, among others. His 2012 and 2014 seasons were also years where he played at a very high level, and 2008-2010 were great years that showed what was to come. 2013 was shorten to 9 games due to a broken collarbone, but his play was as good as ever, and can you name the amount of times a QB returned from injury only to throw a game winning touchdown to clinch a playoff spot?
And furthermore, how many Hall of Fame/future Hall of Fame quarterbacks have had as many elite seasons as Rodgers? We know that his peers Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees obviously qualify, but even guys like John Elway, Jim Kelly, Warren Moon, Troy Aikman, Bob Griese, Bart Starr, and Joe Namath haven’t had as many seasons playing at such a high level as Rodgers. And yet, all these guys mentioned are in the Hall of Fame.
To guys like Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, and Tony Romo, yes, they need more good seasons to qualify for the Hall of Fame, but what more does Rodgers have to do? Win more playoff games? He’s already a stud in the postseason. Win more rings than Brett Favre? Those are a team accomplishment, and Dan Marino would agree.
His Playing Style Has Been Unmatched
We know Rodgers isn’t a statue. Very mobile, very scrambilific, he is able to manipulate the pocket side steps, dancing or rolling around, buying time in the pocket, and reaching into his bag of tricks to make big plays and escape pressure. But unlike scrambling QBs such as Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb, and Michael Vick, Rodgers’ style of play is consistent and efficient, belonging more in the tier of Steve Young.
And of course, it’s Rodgers’ deep ball that makes him truly special. Have you ever seen better accuracy downfield? And by that, I mean “in the last 25 years”? Rodgers’ style of using play action, stepping back in the pocket, then climbing it to fire a cannon to a disposal of Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and previously, Greg Jennings.
It’s his deep ball accuracy that truly stands out. Recently I did a project where I watched deep ball film of all qualified quarterbacks in 2014 (minimum of 8 games) and found that Rodgers’ was the best by far. He didn’t have the most yards on deep balls or the highest CMP%, but in terms of playmaking and pure skill, I thought his was the best by far last season.
Needless to say, I love watching Aaron Rodgers play on TV, and few things sports related are as fun to do as this. His style is similar to that of Ben Roethlisberger, who I consider a pioneer of the backyard football style of quarterbacking; extending plays, buying time in the pocket, mobile pocket passing, and big time arm strength.
What stands out is that Rodgers just does it better than everyone else.
He Has A Few Similarities To A Certain HOF Quarterback…
By now most of you should know Aaron Rodgers holds the record for highest career passer rating in NFL history (106.0). And while I’m not a big fan of the stat these days, a lot of HOF voters will look at something like that, and it certainly can sway opinions. He’s also got 6 consecutive seasons with at least a 100.0 passer rating, an NFL record that not even Steve Young could match in his days.
When comparing both quarterback’s peaks, Young probably has the edge when adjusting for era, but this is excellent company to be compared to. Both Young and Rodgers have/had a style of play that was unmatched in terms of razzle dazzle and efficiency. Both have 2 MVP awards and 1 Super Bowl MVP award. Both are considered by many to be the best quarterback of their respective era. And both have a season widely considered one of the greatest ever (Steve Young 1994, Aaron Rodgers 2011). And of course, both quarterbacks followed in the footsteps of a former legend (Steve Young with Joe Montana, and Aaron Rodgers with Brett Favre).
It has been rare to see Steve Young’s 1991-1998 peak matched, even more impressive when you consider he missed 16 games during that stretch. This is strikingly similar to Aaron Rodgers 2008-2014 peak, which as I said before has been surpassed by very few players.
We Must Not Forget The Amount Of Records/Achievements He Holds
If you’re a fan of Aaron Rodgers like me, you’re probably aware that he holds many records, including highest career passing rating. You might also be aware that he has the lowest career INT% of all time (1.6%), which is extremely impressive considering his love for the deep ball.
Below are more records held by Aaron Rodgers.
-Highest Passer Rating In Single Season (122.5, 2011)
-Best TD-INT ratio (4.00)
-First and only player in NFL history with at least 4,000 passing yards in first 2 seasons
-Most TD passes of 70+ yards (16)
-Fewest interceptions before 150th career TD pass (42)
-Most Yards Passing by a QB in his first 5 seasons (21,332)
-One of 6 quarterbacks to throw for 1,000+yards in a single postseason (2010; 1,094) The others are as follows: Eli Manning with 1,219 in 2011, Kurt Warner with 1,147 in 2008 and 1,063 in 2009, Peyton Manning with 1,034 in 2006, Joe Flacco with 1,140 in 2012, and Dan Marino with 1,001 in 1984,
-Most consecutive TD passes at home without a pick (31)
-Only QB to record 10+ TD against the same team in a season
-Only QB with 400+yards passing, 4 touchdown passes, and 2 rushing touchdowns in the same game
-Tied NFL record for most TD passes in a half (6)
-Highest Career TD% since 1970 (6.5%), which is also the 5th highest of all time (Sid Luckman 7.9%, Frankie Albert 7.4%, Frank Ryan 7.0%, and Otto Graham 6.6%)
-Only player to throw 4,000+ yards in a season with 6 or fewer interceptions (Twice: 2011 and 2014)
Oh yeah, and he also has the most TD passes through his first 100 starts.
Still not convinced? Well what if I told you Aaron Rodgers is part of an exclusive club? A club that includes multiple All Pro winning quarterbacks since 1940.
Notice how almost all of the quarterbacks listed are either locks for the Hall of Fame or are already in it.
Rodgers is also a member of an even more exclusive club; he’s one of eight quarterbacks in NFL history with multiple MVP awards in his career.
As the reigning MVP of the NFL, Rodgers is part of an elite club that almost always has HOF implications. Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Brett Favre are locks to make it, Steve Young, Joe Montana, and Johnny Unitas are in it, and I have Kurt Warner making the Hall of Fame sometime soon. Jim Brown is the only non quarterback to win multiple MVP awards.
Do you see how rare joining this club is? It isn’t easy, but that’s what Rodgers has done.
Before the 2014 season, I said to myself that Aaron Rodgers should definitely be considered a HOF lock with one more MVP season. And guess what? That’s exactly what happened. We can also argue that he plays in a pass happy era, but then again, why is he considered by many (including me) to being the #1 quarterback in the NFL? This came heavily after his landmark 2011 season, and he’s arguably been a top 5 quarterback from 2008-2010 as well.
At the end of the day, Rodgers has done more than enough to be considered for the Hall of Fame, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my favorite active QB. Do me a favor and watch him on film if you somehow haven’t yet. Then name the amount of quarterbacks that have a better playing style.
There should be absolutely zero questioning of Rodgers being a lock in the Hall of Fame. Even if he suffers a career ending injury or sucks for the rest of his career, it should not diminish what he has accomplished in his first 7 seasons as a starter. This is the kind of player that only comes once in a lifetime. The kind of player that can captivate us all, while at the same time aging like a fine wine.
If you don’t think Aaron Rodgers is a Hall of Fame quarterback right now, you don’t appreciate the quarterback position period.