Aaron Rodgers vs. John Elway: A Career Retrospective

Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

John Elway has a gold jacket and a bust in Canton. Aaron Rodgers will soon have the same.

Since these two QBs both have Hall of Fame pedigree, it’s an interesting thought to wonder who has had more of an impact on the NFL during his respective career.

I’m going to take a dive into both Aaron Rodgers’ and John Elway’s careers and find an objective answer, because numbers never lie.

The Numbers Game: Aaron Rodgers

  • W/L Record: 139-66-1
  • Completion Percentage: 65.3%
  • Yards: 55,360
  • Touchdowns: 449
  • Interceptions: 93
  • Rush Yards: 3,372
  • Rush Touchdowns: 34

The Numbers Game: John Elway

  • W/L Record: 148-82-1
  • Completion Percentage: 59.6%
  • Yards: 51,475
  • Touchdowns: 300
  • Interceptions: 226
  • Rush Yards: 3,407
  • Rush Touchdowns: 33

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Numbers don’t tell the whole story

If one simply looked at the raw stats, you might think Aaron Rodgers was far and away the better QB. However, there is more to the story than just the numbers put up on the field.

Playoff football is when a QB makes or breaks his career, because only being good in the regular season does not a great quarterback make.

John Elway started 21 playoff games over the course of his career, going 14-7 in those games. This mark is very impressive, especially when one considers that Elway finished his career on a seven-game win streak in the playoffs while leading his Denver Broncos to two Super Bowls.

Aaron Rodgers has also started 21 playoff games in his career (with hopefully more to come) but has an 11-10 record in the playoffs with only one Super Bowl title.

Elway never put up the prettiest big numbers in the playoffs during his career and two Super Bowl runs, but he always had that levelheaded calmness under pressure; ice in his veins, if you will. Packers fans will remember his clutch plays at the end of Super Bowl XXXII that denied Green Bay’s bid at a title.

Aaron Rodgers has undeniably been shaky in the playoffs in recent years, but during Green Bay’s 2010 Super Bowl run, Rodgers turned in an unforgettable playoff performance, earning Super Bowl MVP honors along the way.

Speaking of MVPs, let’s take a look at the attributes that both QBs have racked up over the course of their careers.

The Trophy Case: Aaron Rodgers

  • Super Bowls: 1
  • Super Bowl MVPs: 1
  • MVPs: 4
  • All-Pro Teams: 4
  • Pro Bowls: 10

The Trophy Case: John Elway

  • Super Bowls: 2
  • Super Bowl MVPs: 1
  • MVPs: 1
  • All-Pro Teams: 0
  • Pro Bowls: 9

The Decision

There is never a wrong answer when choosing between two QBs who will soon be roommates in Canton, Ohio’s NFL Hall of Fame.

But, when you compare Aaron Rodgers and John Elway objectively in a vacuum, there is a clear choice between the two.

Aaron Rodgers owns the second-highest passer rating in NFL history (trailing only Patrick Mahomes), has just 93 career interceptions compared to 449 career touchdown passes, and is simply the most gifted passer of the football maybe ever.

As long as #12 is behind center, the Green Bay Packers always have a chance to win, and a good one at that. Even as Rodgers enters his age-38 season, he is still at the top of his game playing at an elite level.

John Elway never brought that all-encompassing X-factor to the game of football when he played, and he simply lacks the historic efficiency that makes Aaron Rodgers so special. Elway is an NFL all-time great and deserves his place in the Hall of Fame, but when you compare him to Aaron Rodgers, the choice is clear.

#12, the Bad Man himself is undoubtedly the better quarterback. The proof is in the statistics and in the trophy case, the fact is clear: Aaron Rodgers is better than John Elway.