NFL

If Packers’ Aaron Rodgers plays to 45, would he top Tom Brady’s records?

GREEN BAY, Wis. – On the day Tom Brady turned 45 years old this summer, Aaron Rodgers did not hesitate even for a second to say whether he planned to play in the NFL at that age.

“No, no,” Rodgers said. “But happy birthday, Tom.”

And with that, his Aug. 3 session with reporters was over.

Nearly two months went by without a follow-up question on the subject. But as Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers (1-1) prepared for Sunday’s road game (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox) against Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0), naturally it came up again.

Rodgers’ answer did not change.

“I won’t be, I’ll be doing something else,” Rodgers said this week. “I have a lot of other interests outside the game. Game’s been really, really good to me. I feel I’ve given my all to the game. At some point, it’ll be time to do something else, and I strongly believe that’ll be before 45.”

What if Rodgers’ strong belief changes in the next six-and-half years? At 38 years, 9 months, 2 weeks and 6 days old, there’s plenty of life between here and 45.

Forget the money for a second — Rodgers has an average salary of more than $50 million a year — think of the records and milestones he could pile up.

Just for fun, consider this: He could end up first in NFL history in pass completions, first in passing yards and first in touchdowns thrown. And if you believe wins are a quarterback stat, he could end up second — behind only Brady — in career wins.

What would it look like if he played through the 2028 season (turning 45 on Dec. 2) or through 2029 (45 for most of the season)? Using his per-game averages over the past five seasons, dating to 2018 (large enough sample size to account for all types of seasons; missing the playoffs, dealing with injuries, two MVPs), here are the projected numbers, per ESPN Stats & Information research:

The most eye-popping stat of them all is the one that has defined his career: Interceptions. Or a lack of them.

When he threw his 400th career touchdown pass late in the 2020 season, he had only 88 interceptions. He was the only quarterback with fewer than 100 interceptions at the time of their 400th touchdown. At the time, he said he wanted to get to 500 touchdowns without hitting 100 interceptions. He’s more than halfway there. He threw touchdown Nos. 450 and 451 in last Sunday’s 27-10 win over the Chicago Bears, and he’s sitting at 94 career interceptions.

“So five to come in under 100,” Rodgers said doing the math. “That would be a good stretch of ball to get to that. See if I play that long, see if I get there.”

By comparison, Brady currently has 204 interceptions to go along with his 626 touchdowns. At the time of his 450th touchdown, he had been picked off 152 times.

Their style of play has always been different. Brady has been more of a pocket passer, while Rodgers has thrived on off-schedule plays. To be sure, Rodgers doesn’t move around as much as he used to and isn’t as adept at avoiding pressure, but he looked plenty mobile on a 7-yard scramble against the Bears.

Still, it’s a long way from where Rodgers is today at 38 to age 45. And no one is quite sure how Brady has done it for so long.

“That’s a hell of a question,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “I think everybody wished they knew the answer to that. The guy sure looks like he’s in phenomenal shape. Certainly he’s always been one of the sharpest guys in terms of his mind, his ability to go out there and process and see things and go out there and execute. It doesn’t look like he’s lost anything on his ball. We showed some clips today in the team meeting of him throwing strikes down the field. He still looks like he’s playing at a really, really, really high level.”

Brady and Rodgers forged a friendship later in their careers. It began when they would meet up at the Kentucky Derby and evolved into golf partners, most recently this past summer in the made-for-TV match against Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes.

But even Brady said he didn’t know if Rodgers could play at age 45.

“He’s an amazing player, has been for a long time,” Brady said this week. “So I love watching him play and, he’s from California, too, so I feel like you always have a little bit of a connection. He’s an older guy now. He’s been a great player in the same place for a long time, so there definitely has some challenges with that, but he’s navigated pretty well. … I knew Brett [Favre] pretty well. Those two guys are two pretty great quarterbacks for a long period of time in one place.”


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