Whose Career is Better: Favre vs. Rodgers

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The Green Bay Packers have been blessed with almost three decades of hall of fame quarterback play. From 1992 since Brett Favre took over as the starter, he and Aaron Rodgers have combined to lead the Packers to three Super Bowl appearances and two wins (one each), 13 Division titles, 273 wins and five NFL MVP awards. Now that it seems like Rodgers’ career might be ending earlier than anybody would have thought, it’s time to decide whose career would you rather have Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers?

For this exercise I will be looking at the totality of each quarterback’s career. That means we do have to count the Favre retirement saga and his subsequent comebacks with the Jets and Vikings. It is also impossible to predict what will happen to Aaron Rodgers in his last few seasons, and even how many season he will continue to play. He could do a John Elway and comeback and win a few lat career Super Bowls, or he could drop off and lose his starting job to Jordan Love, who knows. For the sake of the argument we’ll assume he doesn’t win another Super Bowl.

Let’s start with the easiest comparison, who is the more talented quarterback? This is the easiest question to answer because it is hands-down Rodgers. Favre had the stronger arm, but not by much and he couldn’t touch Rodgers’ overall arm talent. Rodgers is one of the most physically gifted quarterbacks of all-time. He has a strong arm, accuracy, athleticism, mobility and is also one of the smartest quarterbacks ever. Favre may be nearly as physically gifted as Rodgers, but there’s a reason he has thrown the most interceptions in NFL history. Favre was a gunslinger. Where Rodgers meticulously picks his targets and throws a pinpoint pass, Favre tended to force throws to his receivers, which to his credit worked more than it didn’t, but it had some pretty ugly results at times. Advantage Rodgers.

Next we’ll compare overall career stats. Here’s there stat lines:

 

Favre: Record 186-112  62 Comp%  71,838 yards  508 TDS  336 INT  86 QB Rating

Rodgers: Record 113-60-1  64.6 Comp%  46,946 yards. 364 TDS  84 INT. 102.4 QB Rating

 

A couple of things stand. out from comparing their stats. Favre has started 120 more games than Rodgers, and Rodgers has been much more efficient in his starts than Favre. Looking at their record as a starter Rodgers has won about 65 percent of his starts while Favre won 62.5, not a huge difference. Rodgers and Favre throw touchdowns at a similar enough rate (6% for Rodgers, 5% for Favre), but the interception rate is where Rodgers blows Favre away (Rodgers 1.3%, Favre 3.3%). It is fair to point out that Favre played in an era where defenses could be rougher with receivers and even quarterbacks. In Rodgers’ career pass interference has become a much easier penalty to draw on the defender, and Rodgers himself has more protections as a quarterback than Favre did in the 1990’s. Possibly the most impressive stat for either star is Brett Favre’s iron man streak. Favre started 297 straight games in his career from 1992 until it ended in 2010. That’s the longest streak in NFL history. While that streak is impressive, it isn’t enough to tip the stat scales in Favre’s favor, advantage Rodgers.

Next up is career accolades. Brett Favre won three straight MVP awards from 1995-97, 11 Pro-Bowls, and is a three-time first-team All-Pro. Rodgers won two MVP awards in 2011 and 2014, eight Pro-Bowls, and two-time first-team All-Pro. Advantage Favre for the extra MVP.

Next is one of the most important categories, winning. Both Favre and Rodgers have done their fair share of winning in the NFL regular season, but what ave they done in the playoffs when the games matter the most? Both quarterbacks have won one Super Bowl during their careers. Favre played in a second but lost to the most overrated quarterback in NFL history, John Elway. Rodgers has never made it back to the big game since winning it in 2011. He did however take home Super Bowl MVP honors, something Favre failed to do in 1997. In the playoffs as a whole both quarterbacks have similar records. Favre is 13-11 and 2-3 in NFC Championship games. Rodgers is 10-8 and 1-3 in the NFC Championship. Both have lost big games in very heartbreaking ways. Favre blew the 2007 and 2009 NFC Championships with bad interceptions that lead to game winning scoring drives by the Giants and Saints respectively, both went on to win the Super Bowl that season. Rodgers fumbled away a playoff game against the Cardinals in 2009, and his team blew a huge lead against the Seahawks in the 2014 NFC Championship, and was subsequently blown out of the playoffs almost every other season. This is a tough call but I’m giving the advantage to Favre here for the extra Super Bowl appearance and being two plays away from two more Super Bowl births, while Rodgers’ only real chance at another Super Bowl came in 2014. Advantage Favre.

Picking between two of the all-time great quarterbacks is extremely difficult and it’s neck and neck up until this point. Our deciding factors for making this choice then come down to career perception, and leadership. Rodgers has been talked about in the “best quarterback in the league” conversation since he won the Super Bowl in 2011. The thing is most of those conversations end with analysts giving the caveat that Rodgers is the “most gifted” or “most talented” quarterback in the league, while Tom Brady or Peyton Manning were the overall best. Favre on the other hand was hands down the best quarterback in the NFL for most of the ’90s. His competition was mostly John Elway who may have surpassed Favre only one or two years in 97-98, and Dan Marino who could never get his team to a Super Bowl Victory. It was Favre who electrified fans with his comeback wins and gunslinger approach to the game and was either the best, or in the conversation for best quarterback from 1994-2007. Advantage Favre.

Both quarterbacks have very big but very different personalities. Favre is the loud, boisterous country bro who every fan of the NFL probably wanted to have a beer with. Rodgers is more reserved but has a very funny and biting wit to him. Favre was widely popular among fans across the league during his heyday, while Rodgers is more reviled. Favre’s teammates have mostly glowing things to say about him after they played together, while many of Rodgers’ have accused him of being a bad teammate. Overall both seem like good teammates and great leaders in their own way, but I’ll give Favre the edge for one reason: Rodgers’ more intense leadership style reminds you of shades of Michael Jordan or Tom Brady, only Rodgers had only been able to ride it to one Super Bowl, while Brady and Jordan are the best to ever do it. Sometimes the leader just isn’t quite good enough to demand that much from his teammates. Advantage Favre

Now before I wrap this up, are there any career blemishes or personal issues that either faced that could but a stain on their overall career? With Favre there are a few things. First is his retirement saga. Favre had been talking about retiring since the early 2000’s, which is why the team drafted Rodgers in the first place in 2005. Favre was reportedly cold to Rodgers and refused to help him become the next great quarterback. They had a strained relationship for the first three years of Rodgers’ career. Favre finally retired in 2008, only to return a few months later and expect the starting job that had been given to Rodgers. The Packers didn’t budge and Favre forced his way to the Jets where he went 8-8 and had a decent season that was derailed by an arm injury. Favre then retired again, only to return on Brad Childress’ plane to play two seasons for the Vikings before finally calling it quits for good. Favre also ran into trouble with the Jets when he sent a picture of his watch (conveniently with his dick in the picture) to the Jets sideline reporter. The NFL deemed there was a lack of evidence to pursue anything against Favre, but it’s still not a great look even 12 years later. The only real blemish against Rodgers is his prickly at times personality and alleged alienation from his family. Advantage Rodgers.

I’ve considered a lot when trying to decide who has had the better career, things like physical skill, stats, accomplishments, leadership, toughness, overall perception, and off-field reputation. With everything considered, it I think Brett Favre has had the better career overall by the tiniest of margins. His peak was longer, Favre won just a little bit more than Rodgers did, and he did the most with his talents. That being said Rodgers could go scorched Earth trying to prove the doubters wrong once again and win a late-career Super Bowl or two or bring home another MVP award. That would be amazing and I kind of hope that happens, but for now give me Brett Favre over Aaron Rodgers.

 

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