Ask a 12-year-old who the best quarterback in Green Bay Packers history is and he’s likely to guess it’s Aaron Rodgers, who recently won them a Super Bowl and holds the highest passer rating in NFL history.
Ask a 30-year-old and he’s likely to suggest it’s Brett Favre, who is the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns and will be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame next summer, it was announced today.
Ask a 70-year-old and he might go with Bart Starr, who led the Packers to two Super Bowl titles, three more NFL championships and was the league MVP in 1966.
The tricky part is it’s impossible to compare quarterback statistics from one era to another. The game evolves at too quick a pace, and the raw numbers don’t translate. Instead, let’s compare where all three rank(ed) among active quarterbacks during their time with the Packers.
First, the Pro Football Reference game play numbers only go back to 1960, so we’re cutting off the first three seasons of Starr’s career as a starter. His numbers weren’t great during that period, so knock him down a few pegs.
Second, Rodgers’ sample size is incredibly small in comparison to his two seniors. Obviously, if Rodgers continues on this pace for half a decade or more, he’ll take this crown. But longevity is a factor, and Favre blows both Rodgers and Starr out of the water in that respect.
Starr has the Super Bowl edge, but all three have been winners and Favre was an All-Pro three times. Starr was an All-Pro only once and Rodgers has only received that honor on one occasion. Favre was also the league MVP in three consecutive seasons, while Rodgers and Starr have one MVP each.
The key from our perspective is that this is a team game and we’re comparing individuals. The Packers were more of a powerhouse in the 1960s than they were during Favre’s time. And during Favre’s prime years, he was always near the top of the league in key rate-based stats, right in Rodgers’ range. He only loses out in the final tally because a) he was a gunslinger and b) he played so long.
So we’re still giving the clubhouse lead to Favre, but let’s keep in mind that Rodgers remains on the course.