Difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week. Shawn Carter was onto something profound on the "Diamonds are Forever (remix)" with Kanye West. Genius comes in many forms but, by nature, has the ability to make the formerly inconceivable seem unnervingly easy. Such action prompts the irrational assumption that we too could do what the genius is doing -- if it was simple for them, maybe it'll be merely tough for the rest of us.
That cycle of effort reminds all involved why geniuses inhabit their positions and the rest of us are relegated to being critics and spectators. To gauge the actual difficulty of the achievements of the chosen few, one needs to look at the struggles of their contemporaries. There's a dearth of quality NFL quarterbacks, making it easy to forget that the best of them are the elite even of a rarefied group. Below the mediocre signal callers are the backups, the third stringers, the free agents, the collegians, the high school standouts and, finally, the armchair QBs.
We gaze at the aristocracy from a tremendous distance, with Aaron Rodgers at the farthest remove. What Rodgers does week in and week out, regardless of which defense he faces, is the epitome of genius for the separation his performance grants him from his peers. There is no argument left; he is the best quarterback in the league. The discussion now is if he has the potential to be one of the best ever.
Aaron Rodgers is tied for 23rd in career passing touchdowns, and tied for 201st in career passing interceptions. Peyton Manning, who is No. 1 on the touchdown list, is No. 13 on the interceptions list. Tom Brady, who is the only counterpoint to Rodgers that can be entertained, today is fourth on the TD list and 61st on the INT list.
Since Dec. 3, 2012, Rodgers has thrown 50 TDs at home with an astonishing 2 interceptions.
The ridiculousness of these stats can be summed up with the fact that out of all the quarterbacks to ever play the game professionally, based on 1,500 pass attempts, Rodgers has the best TD-to-INT ratio at 4.05. In second place? The aforementioned Tom Brady at 2.82. Granted, Brady has played almost twice as many games, but that's still a startling difference. Rodgers stands far ahead of his peers who have played the same number of games, with Matt Ryan (1.97), Joe Flacco (1.62) and Alex Smith (1.61), respectively. His colleagues aren't even in the same discussion.
Aaron Rodgers Is Impossible Tied for 25th in career Pass TDs Tied for *205th* in career Pass INTs He's the red dot pic.twitter.com/3tVDntmg4o— Football Perspective (@fbgchase) September 29, 2015
The Packers are undefeated so far this season and he is the main reason why. His performance against the 49ers was short of the highlight reel that he displayed when he frustrated and confused a talent-rich Kansas City Chiefs defense the Monday before, but it encapsulated what makes his existence impossible.
On the first drive of the game, with the Packers in the red zone, Rodgers got the ball on second-and-8 with a little over nine minutes remaining in the first quarter. Even in shotgun, the pocket collapses almost as soon as he receives the snap and takes a three-step drop. A three-man rush envelopes Rodgers in a display of pure power and machismo supremacy.
This mass of human form lunges and reaches for Rodgers, who spins out to his left. The two tangling giants fly past and he steps up in their departed space only to be swarmed by the edge rusher from his left and chased by the recovered giant who had been flung to his right. Number 12 sidesteps them all and bounds farther toward the sideline, his eyes still scanning downfield, before twisting his body and throwing -- and this is the fun part -- a bullet of a pass to his right. The pass heat-seeks Richard Rodgers through three defenders at the back of the end zone.
Or maybe you prefer his pass on third-and-7 in the third quarter when he launched a 38-yard ball while going backwards to James Jones on the left touchline with Kenneth Acker none the wiser? Throwing a bomb with no backlift into a window that small is the glitch that broke the football matrix. At that moment, Rodgers might as well have been plucking bullets out of the air with his bare hands. The defenders would have been in the right to question whether they should have taken the blue pill and pursued some other vocation instead.
But that's the problem that Rodgers presents: For one, he can beat you the traditional way, by reading the defense, calling out blitzes, going through his progressions and finding the open man. He's deadly at it.
Then there's the fact that he thrives when the play breaks down. He doesn't give up until absolutely necessary. That's a vice when it comes to other signal callers, but when you're Aaron Rodgers there is never such a thing as a dead play, just another opportunity. It's a trait permanently ascribed to his predecessor, Brett Favre. But where Favre's hubris manifested itself in countless interceptions as often as it did in game-winning plays (a TD/INT ratio of 1.51), Rodgers' daring is justified as a tactic since he rarely suffers the same mishaps as the ol' Gunslinger.
Rodgers combines what Jon Gruden traced back to Joe Montana, the ability to keep his feet alive at all times, with a great arm and a mind to match. The norm is to have one or, at most, two of these attributes for one player -- watch Tom Brady run the 40-yard dash in the combine again. In Rodgers, you have the holy trinity in one body: A player who can beat you with his feet, his mind and his arm. And he's able to correctly pick which weapon to unleash at the perfect time.
It's why Rodgers' teammates have gone as far as to say that he's the Michael Jordan of his position. It's enticing to make the comparison considering Rodgers' elite performance and the ease with which he executes the impossible. Then, of course, there's also that signature arrogance. Jordan flashed his smirking dry humor when he shot free-throws with his eyes closed or shrugged his shoulders after hitting a three-pointer against the Trail Blazers.
The same demeanor is apparent in Rodgers as he smirks at defenders after throwing another touchdown to Randall Cobb or when he harbors a slight and waits almost an entire season to beat the Seahawks and then mock them by asserting that "... God was a Packers fan tonight."
But Jordan is Jordan, and watching him was an experience that can't be compared with anyone else. He completed the impossible in his own individually brilliant way. By the same reasoning, Aaron Rodgers is Aaron Rodgers, and seeing him in full flight is unique in its own way.
He is the deadliest and most valuable player in the National Football League and he's only getting better.