This Analysis of 41-Year-Old QBs Spells Doom for Aaron Rodgers and the Jets

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When you consider what Aaron Rodgers is attempting to do starting in a couple of months, play NFL quarterback at a high level after his 41st birthday, a certain recency bias kicks in. What would've seemed impossible just a few years ago seems highly probable, just because we just saw it done. In fact, we saw it done after several years of hearing it couldn't be done:

But to think that bodes well for Rodgers and the Jets is to forget a few key factors. 

One, Tom Brady is not of this Earth. He beamed down to us from whatever astral plane of existence he was formed in to show us mortals how to aspire to his otherworldly perfection. 

Two, when 41-year-old Brady went 14-5, beat the Chiefs in Kansas City in the conference title game and went on to win his sixth ring, he wasn't skipping out of mandatory workouts:

…  to go get hopped up on goofballs:

Three, Brady wasn't coming off a debilitating Achilles injury. In fact, since the Achilles Heel is a metaphor for weak spots, medical science has yet to prove he even has any.

And now, thanks to some good work by the NY Post, we've got more perspective on the challenge that lays before Rodgers in 2024. First, they tracked down one QB who actually did play at a high level north of 41, Warren Moon. In 1997 with Seattle, Moon posted the sixth highest passer rating in his 15 seasons as a starter, and led the league in passing yards per game. As you'd imagine, he's optimistic about Rodgers' chances of succeeding. Because Moon was able to. And because he's still the same class act he always was.

But the truth is, Moon, like Brady, was the rare exception:


Source - When Aaron Rodgers throws his first pass of the 2024 season, he will become the 10th quarterback to join an exclusive club.

If Rodgers gets to 50 attempts — and the promise of the Jets’ season depends on him far exceeding that number in his return from a torn Achilles — the enhanced criteria will whittle down club membership to seven.

In the Super Bowl era dating to 1966, just nine quarterbacks have thrown a pass during their age-41 season — a significant drop-off from the 22, including Rodgers, in their age-40 season, according to Pro Football Reference.

Remove the unparalleled Tom Brady … and the results are a mixed bag that highlight how risky it can be to have so much riding on an arm with a career pitch count like Rodgers’ 7,661. …

But no quarterback has come off of a serious season-ending injury in his age-40 season — Drew Brees (torn thumb ligaments) and Moon (high ankle sprain) returned to the field before that year was over — to play at a high level in his age-41 season.  …

Rodgers is not Brady, even if he might like to draw that comparison.

Gee, I don't know how to say this. Because I hate to come off as Mr. Negative just because of a well-established pattern of failure over a long period of time involving many, many examples. But it almost sounds as if pinning all your franchise's hopes on a high-mileage player pretty much reaching the end of his athletic abilities wasn't the best long term strategy. And that perhaps the wiser course would've been to thoroughly scout, responsibly draft and then patiently develop the solution to all your problems at that position, instead of putting all your resources into the quick fix, temporary sugar rush that is a aged superstar on the decline. 

I'm willing to concede the possibility Rodgers might prove me wrong. Me and everything we know about human physiology. Because again, that's what Brady did. But to repeat, Brady is not human. And like the article says, Rodgers is not Brady. Good luck with this, Jets fans. You'll need it.