Commentary

It's Mr. Rodgers' neighborhood now

Originally Published: November 23, 2011
By Rick Reilly | ESPN.com

Favre/RodgersJoe Robbins/Getty ImagesBrett Favre and Aaron Rodgers are both storied Green Bay Packers quarterbacks. But that might be where the similarities end.

You're either a Brett Favre man or an Aaron Rodgers man. Can't be both, same way you can't be a Sara Lee man and a Slim-Fast man. Not physically possible.

Gotta choose. Which are you?

Rodgers men are patient. Favre men are pissed the microwave is taking so long.

Rodgers men wait for their openings. Favre men make their own openings -- with benzene torches.

Rodgers men love that their hero is having the kind of season Favre never had: 31 TDs, four picks (two of those off tips) and becoming the first QB in NFL history to start the season with 10 consecutive games with passer ratings better than 100. The man is playing as if he's popping "Unlimited" pills.

Favre men don't want to hear about numbers, unless you're bringing up MVPs (Favre 3, Rodgers 0) and Super Bowl appearances (Favre 2, Rodgers 1). But that's just longevity. Rodgers men want to talk about simple, eyeball-bulging greatness:

Yes, Favre is one of the most unforgettable quarterbacks of all time. He's Halle Berry in a bikini. But Rodgers is Halle Berry in a bikini carrying an ice-cold 12-pack and the keys to a free Maserati.

• Wins and losses, first four years: Rodgers 36-20, Favre 34-24.

• Completion percentage: Rodgers' best year (2011, so far): 72.3 percent. Favre's best year: 68.4 percent (2009).

• Interceptions (This is a little unfair, like comparing divorces with Elizabeth Taylor, but here goes): Rodgers' career: 1.9 percent. Favre: 3.3 percent. Of course, nobody in NFL history has thrown more picks than Favre's 336. In fact, nobody else is within 50 of that number. Favre has more picks than Keith Richards. Put it this way: Rodgers has four INTs this season. Favre had six games with that many.

• Super Bowl wins. Rodgers: 1 in only 4 seasons. Favre 1 in 20. What, you don't have a calculator?

Rodgers men do what Favre men do, only with more efficiency. It's like giving a paper route to a college man vs. an 11-year-old: Far fewer Tribunes end up on the roof.

Look at the stats. Rodgers' first year as a starter was better than Favre's first, the second better than his second and so on. Rodgers has a chance to be the greatest ever. If it weren't true, why else would 14 of the 21 GMs who passed on Rodgers in the first round of the 2005 draft be gone?

Yes, Favre is one of the most unforgettable quarterbacks of all time. He's Halle Berry in a bikini. But Rodgers is Halle Berry in a bikini carrying an ice-cold 12-pack and the keys to a free Maserati.

Rodgers runs better than Favre ever did. Rodgers picks his spots better than Favre ever did. Favre always figured a football could fit easily into a USB port from 40 yards away. Not Rodgers. He knows the value of a perfectly thrown spiral to a cheerleader.

On prime-time TV, Favre is the gutsy cop who wants to throw a grenade and go running in after it to save hostages. Rodgers is the guy in the bow tie who talks it out on the headset with the kidnapper, all the while cleaning his rifle scope with his pocket square.

Of course Favre was more exciting. Favre was a human cliff-hanger, a thrill machine, an entire season of "24" stuffed into 60 minutes. Rodgers is the guy in his bathrobe and slippers checking out the window to see what the noise is. Favre is a pair of red dancing shoes. Rodgers is a pair of Crocs.

I know a guy who knew a girl whom he set up with Rodgers. This is when Aaron wasn't a starter, just a quiet, blasť kind of first-round pick out of Cal with that shrugged-shoulder, loping gait about him. She wasn't excited to go, but she ended up liking him because of what he is underneath: kind and thoughtful and smart. And that's how he quarterbacks.

And when his chance at glory arrives, Rodgers delivers goose bumps: The 60-yard bomb that will land either in Greg Jennings' outstretched fingernails or on the turf. The 25-yard out that Jordy Nelson will be able to catch just before doing an arabesque along the sideline or that the trainer will catch.

"I've played with two quarterbacks," Packers wide receiver Donald Driver once said. "One just went out there and did what he did, and he wasn't patient at all. But Aaron takes what the defense gives him, and that's the type of guy you want."

But it's more than football. Rodgers men aren't just good teammates, they're good guys, the type who mow the old lady's lawn without her knowing.

[+] EnlargeBrett Favre
AP Photo/Michael DwyerBrett Favre had trouble, literally, walking away from football.
Favre men are good teammates, too, until they have to sit on the bench or it's time to leave or give somebody else a turn. Then they're the popular seventh-grade girls left uninvited to a birthday party.

Rodgers men take the high road. Favre men not only take the low road but dug most of it. They retire and unretire like punch-drunk boxers, take whole franchises hostage for their own selfish needs, and generally turn their last few years into a kind of botched I ♥ GB, NY, MN tattoo.

You really have to go a ways to cause a little town like Green Bay -- a place where football is the side dish served with every meal -- to turn against you, yet Brett Favre did it.

"Oh, yeah?" Favre men usually say. "If Green Bay doesn't love Brett Favre, why is there a Brett Favre Pass in town?"

To which we Rodgers men say, "Wait a couple of years. Soon you'll be driving on the Aaron Rodgers Championship Beltway. You'll like it. It's safe, smooth and takes you where you want to go."


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Rick Reilly is the 11-time National Sportswriter of the Year. He contributes essays and commentary to "Monday Night Countdown," "SportsCenter," and ESPN/ABC golf and tennis coverage. He's also the host of "Homecoming," ESPN's unique, one-hour interview show set in the hometowns of legendary athletes. For more Rick, check out the archive.


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