Tom Brady watch, 2021

(Note: with rumors swirling about Tom Brady’s future, I realized some of the below may become outdated very quickly)

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Well, it happened, after two years where he seemed to have plateaued behind Peyton Manning‘s 30.89, Tom Brady put together another amazing season, leading the league in passing yards and touchdowns at the age of 43, to finish the 2021 season with a combined Apples & Oranges rating of 31.17. This makes him not just the top modern-era quarterback, but it puts him within striking distance of Jim Brown’s 31.36. One more year could do it, as long as he doesn’t have a big decline, and why would we expect him to at this point?

Meanwhile, another one of his contemporaries, Ben Roethlisberger, has hung up the cleats. Like Drew Brees and Peyton Manning before him, Big Ben limps into retirement a shell of his former self, even as Brady seems to grow stronger. Roethlisberger doesn’t quite have the numbers of these other guys — he’s “only” at the Otto Graham/Joe Montana level — but he was a hell of a player, and his relative decline only makes what Brady is doing look that much better.

Some of the comparisons just seem silly. Brady has 13,049 passing yards in 47 postseason games. Manning played in 27, Big Ben in 23, Brees had 18. Manning is second with 7,339 playoff passing yards; no one else has reached 6,000. In 2022, Brady could easily go past 100,000 combined regular-season and postseason passing yards. One. Hundred. Thousand. It boggles the mind.

Aaron Rodgers is still setting a higher pace, but a lot can happen in the next few years. With all the off-field turmoil that Rodgers is bringing on himself, can he match Brady’s longevity? Rodgers is 130 games behind Brady, almost eight seasons’ worth.

Update:

Yup, it happened. He retired. So, no 100K yards. Definitely finishes as the No. 1 modern QB, and No. 3 football player overall. And Rodgers is still lurking, 130 games behind …

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