GREEN BAY, Wis. — Tom Brady turned 40 on Thursday. At 39, he guided the biggest Super Bowl comeback to win his fifth NFL championship. Where will Aaron Rodgers be when he turns 40 on Dec. 2, 2023?
“Hopefully, right here,” the Green Bay Packers quarterback said Thursday.
Rodgers will turn 34 in about four months. There is no sign of decline in his play. After proclaiming the Packers could “run the table” after falling to 4-6 last season, Rodgers threw 15 touchdowns passes against no interceptions to lift Green Bay to six consecutive wins, then added six touchdowns and one interception in two playoff victories to get the team to the NFC championship game.
He ended the season with a league-high 40 touchdown passes, and his rating of 104.2 edged his NFL-record career mark of 104.1.
Brady has earned a spot on the Pro Bowl team every season since turning 34 in 2011. During that span, the New England quarterback has won two Super Bowls and twice been named a second-team All-Pro. Brady led the NFL in touchdown passes in 2015 and had 28 touchdown passes against only two interceptions last season.
“Being around him a few times, I see his approach,” Rodgers said. “He’s got really good habits, and not just his eating habits, which are well-documented. But he’s got a preparation routine that works for him. Obviously, he’s one of the most talented guys to ever play the position. When you combine that with a high IQ and then really good habits on and off the field, you’re going to see sustained greatness.”
The man Rodgers replaced in Green Bay, Hall of Famer Brett Favre, also put together a run of sustained excellence. When Favre was 38 in 2007, he led the Packers to the NFC title game. That game, however, would be his last with the Packers.
Favre was traded to the Jets for the 2008 season, and he signed with the rival Vikings in 2009. As a 40-year-old, Favre had perhaps his best season in the NFL with career-high figures in completion percentage (68.4) and passer rating (107.2) in propelling Minnesota to the NFC championship game.
Rodgers wants the longevity of Brady and Favre but with the stability of Brady, whose entire career has been with the Patriots.
“It’s being a sports fan and watching some of my favorite all-time players either not finish in the place they started or the place where you fell in love watching them play, said Rodgers said, football’s Joe Montana and basketball’s Michael Jordan as examples of players who built a legacy with one team but finished elsewhere.
“I’m a realist, as well,” he added. “I have to play well, the team has to want to bring me back. But I’d like to finish things here where we started.”
Rodgers briefly was the team’s oldest player until the free-agent signing of Jahri Evans, who turns 34 this month. Rodgers and coach Mike McCarthy are going into their 12th seasons together, meaning he’s going through the annual playbook installations for the umpteenth time, but a new season and new faces have energized Rodgers through the dog days of training camp.
Thirty-three rookies are on the roster, including 10 draft picks. There also was a rare free-agent signing binge that included Evans, tight ends Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks, cornerback Davon House and defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois.
“It’s fun having conversations with Mike at this time of my career than maybe 2008, when I was just kind of learning what it meant to be a starter and where my input was wanted or even needed,” Rodgers said. “Now, it’s a free-flowing conversation. It’s talking about real football and real things that happen on the field and real adjustments you can make. I live for those conversations.”