Look, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the best QB in NFL history, period, based on sabermetrics: We examined this last spring when we analyzed the “greatest of all time” argument for professional football in America. And it’s really not even close after another historic season in 2020 for the legendary gunslinger.
Rodgers posted a 121.5 QB rating at age 37 this year, which was one point off the record he set when he was 28 years old. Only two QBs in NFL history have put together a season with a QB rating over 120 points: Rodgers has now done it twice, with the two highest QB ratings ever, followed by former Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning (121.1 rating in 2004).
Career wise, Rodgers’ 103.9 QB rating is third, trailing only two fourth-year players right now—and those guys will have a hard time playing as long as Rodgers at such a high level. That’s the point: No one has ever been this good for so long as Rodgers, and he just proved it again.
You want playoffs? Rodgers is fifth all time in QB rating there (100.5), trailing Super Bowl winners like Patrick Mahomes, Bart Starr, and Kurt Warner. Mahomes has a long career ahead of him, and he will be hard pressed to sustain his effort. Either way, with an 11-9 record in the postseason, clearly Rodgers is not the reason the Green Bay Packers have reached only one Super Bowl during his career.
Similar to Drew Brees—only much more significantly—Rodgers has been a victim of bad luck in the postseason. It’s a team sport, and a lot goes into winning beyond the QB, as we explored last week. Take last weekend’s playoff loss for Green Bay: Rodgers’ QB rating for the game was an outstanding 101.6, but his team still lost the game by single digits. You can’t pin a loss like that on Rodgers, unless you’re ignorant or stupid.
Rodgers may have the most in common with a guy like Steve Young, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterbacking legend who only reached one Super Bowl as a starting quarterback despite retiring with the highest career QB rating at the time (96.8 in 1999). The 49ers were in the hunt almost every season that Young was the QB, and quite often, the chips just didn’t fall his way. That is the beauty and horror of sport, obviously.
For Green Bay’s legendary signal caller, that may end up being his legacy, too, unless he’s able to pull a (Peyton) Manning and shift his career late for one more Super Bowl with another team. Does he need to? Not really: The smartest experts and fans recognize that Rodgers has been the most brilliant QB in the history of the league. He will probably end up as the league’s all-time best at avoiding interceptions, and he is securely in the Top 10 for touchdown frequency. Add in the QB rating realities above, and it’s not even close.
Rodgers has nothing left to prove, and he himself is smart enough to know that. He has an impeccable reputation around the league (unlike someone else who shall remain unnamed), and his advertising chops are well established, too. Rodgers could retire tomorrow and never have to look back.
Whether he does or not is irrelevant: Rodgers is the best quarterback in NFL history when you combine all these different facets of performance into a singular conclusion. We proved it before the 2020 season, and his excellent performance—the second-best season for a QB ever, after his own 2011 season—just cemented it.