Gunslingers Rodgers, Brady set for rare duel
Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are universally regarded as two of the best quarterbacks of their generation.
Brady has spent the better part of his 19 seasons in the NFL eclipsing virtually every milestone set by his predecessors. Along the way, he’s captured every major piece of hardware the league has to offer from multiple MVPs to Super Bowl titles, all while remaining at the top of his game at 41.
Rodgers isn’t as decorated as Brady, but has been just as celebrated during his 14-year career for a free-wheeling style and an uncanny ability to pull off plays that have been rarely duplicated by his peers.
Between them, they have five regular- season MVP awards, nine Super Bowl appearances and six Super Bowl rings.
Yet when the Patriots host the Packers on Sunday night, it will mark just the second time that the future Hall of Famers have squared off as starting quarterbacks. Rodgers won the first meeting in 2014 in a game in which they combined for 613 passing yards and four touchdowns in Green Bay’s five-point victory at Lambeau Field.
Rodgers capped that season by winning his second regular- season MVP trophy. Brady went on to hoist his fourth Super Bowl title.
Watching each other’s success from afar has bred a deep respect between them. Rodgers for Brady’s longevity. Brady for the skillset Rodgers brings to the position.
“Tom’s been at the top of his game for over a decade,” Rodgers said. “Obviously, we play a little bit different style of game, but the stuff that he does well is stuff that over my career I’ve tried to incorporate into my own game.
“I enjoy competing against great players and obviously Tom is right at the top.”
It’s similar to how Brady describes Rodgers.
“What he’s done as a quarterback, I think it is inspiring even for me,” Brady said. “I watch his game and it makes me want to get out there and practice and improve because I think he’s so phenomenal with the way he manages himself in the pocket and his ability to throw the football is unlike anyone probably in the history of the league.”
Though he wants to play until he’s 45, Brady will presumably retire be--
fore Rodgers, leaving the 34-year-old time to narrow the gap between them in career numbers.
But neither is interested in playing the hypothetical game about who the better quarterback is.
“I don’t really try to get into the ‘ what-if’ game,” Rodgers said. “I’m fortunate to have been drafted here and sit behind Brett (Favre) for three years. He was obviously drafted late there ... so his chip might have been a little bit bigger than mine starting out his career.
“There’s a lot of pride in that legacy part of your career, and I think him and I both feel the same way about our organizations.” T.O. GETS HALL OF FAME
RING » Terrell Owens came back to his roots to get his Hall of Fame ring.
Owens was set to be presented with the ring during a halftime ceremony during Thursday night’s game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders.
Owens spent the first eight seasons with the 49ers, establishing himself as one of the best players in the game during his tenure in San Francisco.
“This is awesome,” Owens said before the game, while wearing his gold Hall of Fame jacket. “This is an opportunity to give something to the fans. Ever since I left in 2003 and went on and did some great things, but this is where it started my first eight years of my career.”
Owens was voted into the Hall of Fame earlier this year but skipped the induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio, to hold his own celebration at his college in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Owens ranked second all-time to Jerry Rice in yards receiving (15,934). LONGTIME WRITER ZIMMERMAN DIES » Paul Zimmerman, the longtime Sports Illustrated NFL writer known as “Dr. Z” for his analytical approach, died Thursday. He was 86.
NBC Sports football writer Peter King conf irmed Zimmerman’s death.
King worked with Zimmerman at Sports Illustrated, and completed Zimmerman’s autobiography, “Dr. Z: The Lost-Memoirs of an Irreverent Football Writer.”
Zimmerman brief ly played college football at Stanford and Columbia, and covered the New York Jets for the New York Post for 13 years. He also worked for the Sacramento Bee, New York Journal-American and the New York World-Telegram & Sun before joining SI in 1979.