Who is the NFL’s GOAT? The usual names thrown in the debate are Joe Montana, Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, or Aaron Rodgers. Those are reasonable candidates for the title.
We recently entered a new decade that will bring in the next faces of the NFL. They will play their hearts out, to succeed and dethrone their predecessors. Who are the players that set the bar up so high?
Eli Manning – NY Giants
As the younger Manning, Eli seemed destined to live in the shadow of big brother Peyton. The proof was in his rookie season. He ended the season 1-6 (as the starter), threw 1,043 passing yards, six touchdowns, and nine interceptions. Giants fans disowned Manning.
Three years later, everything changed. Barely scratching the post-season and stumbling into the Super Bowl XLII, the Giants slayed the Patriots juggernaut. History repeated itself in Super Bowl XLVI. Manning performed at an elite caliber to become two-time Super Bowl MVP.
Manning etched his name in the record books: longest pass game leader (tied with eight others), most fourth quarter passes in a season: 15 (2011), and most passing yards in a single postseason: 1,219 (2011), and 210 consecutive starts (3rd place).
Fans often mocked him for the amount of sacks and hits he’d taken. But remember the resiliency of his iron body. Manning never suffered a career damaging injury.
In the list of five players to win two or more Super Bowl MVPs, you’ll see Eli’s name. There’s not much to argue against his case as a GOAT.
Russell Wilson – Seattle Seahawks
In 2012, the Seahawks landed on a gold mind, the perfect draft pick in Russell Wilson. He guided the team to the playoffs, the first time in years. In his 2nd and 3rd year, Wilson and the Seahawks won back-to-back NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl victory.
By the end of this season, he accumulated a 67.4 completion rating for 3,708 yards, 28 touchdowns, 311 rushing yards, three touchdowns, and only five interceptions.
Wilson was the one player the Seahawks needed to turn their fortunes around for the best. He now holds team records, and with him at the helm, it’s not likely that someone will break them.
Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers
Rodgers has it all, the stats and consistency, to be recognized as a GOAT. He’s 113-60-1, with 16 comebacks, 23 game-winning drives, 3,913 completions (364 touchdown passes), a 64.6 completion percentage, current highest passer rating (103.1), Super Bowl 45 victory (with MVP honors), and one time league MVP. You mix everything and you get yourself a GOAT.
Even the great Tom Brady can’t do what Aaron Rodgers can do; nail the Hail Mary pass. In short, the Hail Mary is a last ditch attempt to score and win the game. He has completed three Hail Marys, which is a lot, considering the slim chances of a completion, much less scoring. This has become Rodgers’ finishing move and heartbreaker, in crucial games.
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis Colts/ Denver Broncos
Peyton is to Mario, as Eli is to Luigi. He’s the main guy and is universally known. The two-time Super Bowl champion brought his teams into playoff contention, upon arrival. He finished his career with a 186-79-0 record, 539 touchdown passes, 65.3% completion rating, 27 playoff games, 43 comebacks, 54 game-winning drives, and five league MVP awards.
His run with the Colts came with two Super Bowl appearances (1-1 record).
One detail that goes unnoticed is as to how Peyton adapted to a new team, late into his career.
One of Peyton’s strengths was game managing. This applies strongly towards the end of his career. This is the man you’d want to make last second changes, before the snap. Those often were the deciding factors in big games.
Oh, Peyton has one-upped Brady’s Patriots the most, with a 11-6 record. A handful of those include the AFC Championship game. It’s an honor only he holds.
Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints
The Purdue Boilermakers product is reaching his 19th season in the NFL. Drew Brees started his pro career with the San Diego Chargers (2001-05). The short run with the Bolts pales in comparison to his time in New Orleans.
As we approach the 2020 season, Brees owns Career Passing Yards (77,416), Most Career Pass Completions (6,867), Most Career Touchdown Passes (547), etc. This man’s resume is pages long. What Brees is missing in championship gold, he makes up for in league records. One special feat he holds is beating fellow GOAT, Peyton Manning at Super Bowl 44.
Tom Brady – New England Patriots/ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The former Patriot has accomplished it all; Six Super Bowl wins (four MVP honors), three time league MVP, single season records (219 regular season wins, 30 playoff wins, 41 playoff starts, 18 Super Bowl touchdown passes, etc), and club records.
His best performance was at Super Bowl LI. We know the story; Brady led the greatest comeback in history. Facing a 25 point deficit, Brady rallied his troops to the Atlanta Falcons in OT. You can trust TB12 to read defenses like a supercomputer, shred them to pieces, and mount comebacks only seen in movies. Need we say more?
TB12’s time in the NFL is slowly reaching its end. There’s nothing more for him to prove.
Are there any other GOATS who come to mind?