The four remaining quarterbacks in the NFL playoffs have all been fantastic this year. Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes will finish 1-2 in MVP voting. Tom Brady has played like a 33-year-old version of himself. Josh Allen has taken a gigantic leap and at times possesses the most lethal big-play ability through the air and on the ground. Only one can win the Super Bowl. It hardly seems fair, yet it is instructive.
Winning the Super Bowl is hard. The best team doesn't do it half the time. Quarterback performance is only part of the equation and luck plays a tremendous factor in who raises the trophy. And yet the prevailing conversation centers around which one of these gunslingers will prove themselves to be a worthy champion, their teams receding into the background almost as an afterthought.
Such is the power and responsibility of playing the most glamorous and fetishized position in all of sports.
Consider this. With two more victories, Brady will have his seventh Super Bowl, further cementing his place as the all-time greatest to ever audible. The door would shut on Rodgers' quest for a career-affirming second and a better chance may never materialize. Mahomes would be a year older with his skill position cast also a year older. Allen, well, it wouldn't be a shock if he emerges as a three-time champion or is forever chasing this magical season.
Mahomes' ceiling at this stage of his career seems higher than Rodgers', which is an incredible, yet fair, thing to say. Yet, there is nothing guaranteed. Last year's triumph may emerge as his only trip to the parade. He could continue to play at his otherworldly level but never collect another ring, meaning he and Rodgers could be on the Mount Rushmore of QB skill and have all of two titles between them.
Because, it bears repeating: Life is an unpredictable and largely fickle journey. Brady's six rings have been aided and abetted by incredible fortune, new rule implication, opposing teams melting down at the right time, clutch kicking on his side, and so many more intangibles that get amped up when fueling an athlete of that caliber.
Perhaps this is just screaming into an unplugged microphone, but a situation like this lays bare how hollow and incomplete centering a player's worth solely on championships won can be. There are 32 teams and only one can hoist the Lombardi. Meaning nearly 97 percent of franchises go home empty-handed. This is not indicative of a failure, it's indicative of exclusivity.
Some combination of Brady-Mahomes-Rodgers will yield two defeated quarterbacks. And if Buffalo wins it all, Allen will reign supreme. If the Chiefs repeat, a huge part of that repeat will be due to Chad Henne's poise.
Not a single person had that on their Bingo card.
Our discourse is going to look vastly different in a few weeks based on the outcomes of three games. It'll be worth exploring deeper the idea of whether Quarterback A or B failed — or if the system forces them all to.