The Packers’ history is arguably the richest and certainly the longest-lasting, considering the Green Bay franchise predates the NFL’s inaugural season of 1920.
This truth made Aaron Rodgers’s statement on March 15 on The Pat McAfee Show all the more surprising, when he asserted his opinion of perhaps being the greatest player to ever wear a Packers uniform.
Naturally, this prompted the thought of whether Rodgers really tops that list. It’s an illustrious one, loaded with legends who contributed to 13 championships, including four Super Bowls.
And for many of the recent generations, the conversation starts with the seminal question: Rodgers or Brett Favre? Ask those around them—and we did—and it’s impossible to get a straight answer.
Perhaps that’s because this is the football equivalent of asking a Wisconsinite to choose between cheese curds and beer. Favre was jettisoned in 2008 to the Jets, leaving for the same destination Rodgers appears headed.
For former Packers vice president Andrew Brandt, who joined the club in 1999 and also contributes to The MMQB as our business of football columnist, the situations are strikingly similar.
“It’s eerie,” Brandt says. “The déjà vu is overwhelming. Eighteen years ago we took this first-round quarterback, and everybody hated that we took him. Brett was upset, Brett’s agent was upset, the fans were upset, the media was upset, and Aaron couldn’t have been too happy, coming to a place that was freezing and never was going to play.”
Brandt remembered the following three years as a weekly summit with Favre’s camp telling the organization how difficult it was coming to work. During offseasons receivers raved to the Packers’ brass about Rodgers.
Finally, after three years of Rodgers on the bench, Green Bay traded Favre. Now, after three years of Jordan Love waiting, he’s going to take his turn, with Rodgers apparently headed east.
Still, despite all the current tension, Brandt finds one significant difference from Favre’s departure: the level of ugliness.
“It’s less,” Brandt says. “Brett retired and came back expecting to have his job back. It was training camp. Brett came to practice as a backup. People are suggesting the Jets have some leverage because Aaron is going to show up at training camp if the deal’s not done. There’s no way. But that happened. … I’m kind of away from this, but what I can tell from vast Packers Nation is they’re kind of O.K. with this. Packers fans are kind of O.K. moving on from Aaron, which is an extraordinary statement. When we went through this with Brett, there were 95% who [hated it], like, How could you get rid of Brett Favre for this unknown kid?”
So where do Rodgers and Favre rank? Who will have the greater legacy?
Since Rodgers said it was “debatable” whether he was the greatest Packer during his interview with Pat McAfee, let’s debate. Here are our top 10 players in Green Bay’s history, who each made an All-Decade Team and who all have busts in Canton, where Rodgers will join them five years after his playing career is over.