Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. Two names that have made indelible marks on NFL history, names that can be found near the top of various Greatest of All Time lists. They've been two of the best quarterbacks in the league for the last decade. Brady even longer. And we, the viewers, have rarely had the pleasure of watching them face off in head-to-head matchups.
Aaron Rodgers vs Tom Brady History
There have only been three Brady-Rodgers games recorded in football lore. The first came in 2014 when Brady and his Patriots traveled to Lambeau Field to take on the Packers. That game was as advertised, a slugfest from the start that ended with a win for Rodgers, 26-21, and the Packers. The second came in 2018 and wasn't nearly as fun; Rodgers was at the end of his rope with Mike McCarthy and Brady's Patriots won the day handily, 31-17. The last came this year when the Bucs gave Green Bay the business and beat them 38-3.
Those were all regular-season games, though. Football fans have not yet had the wish granted of watching the two play with the stakes at the highest. There were a few close calls over the years. Only a meltdown of epic proportions prevented the Packers from heading to the Super Bowl and facing off against the Patriots in 2014. Green Bay had the best record in football in 2011 before falling to the eventual champion New York Giants in the divisional round.
After the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took down the New Orleans Saints last night, Brady's ticket was punched to his 14th conference championship game and a trip to Lambeau to face off against Rodgers once more. This time with a trip to Super Bowl at stake. It's great for viewers both casual and passionate. Brady is no longer at the peak of his powers but can obviously still get the job done, and Rodgers is in the midst of his best season in years. Maybe ever.
The networks wanted this as bad as everyone else did. The two Packers/Patriots games both posted huge viewership numbers; the 2014 late-afternoon game recorded 30.9 million viewers on CBS and the 2018 SNF matchup came in at 21 million. Packers-Bucs from earlier this season had 22.31 million viewers on FOX. Tampa Bay and Green Bay will be the 3:05 ET championship matchup this Sunday. Brady and Rodgers draw viewers as household names, industries unto themselves, and then you put them into a win-or-go-home scenario? A recipe for great numbers, no matter the outcome.
In short, everyone wanted this. It's tiring to see Brady keep winning, sure, but he and Rodgers are fascinating contrasts as future Hall of Famers along with being objectively great. Rodgers has gotten the job done with absurd physical tools over the years. Brady wins games not by effortlessly throwing 60-yard bombs off his back foot, but by relentlessly picking apart defenses until the job is done. They're both among the most feared signal-callers in football history.
The football will be good. The networks will be pleased. Everybody will win. Except whichever team loses, of course.