Home > NFL > Friend Fight Round 1: Aaron Rodgers vs. Ben Roethlisberger. Winner captures Super Bowl 2011

Friend Fight Round 1: Aaron Rodgers vs. Ben Roethlisberger. Winner captures Super Bowl 2011

Let’s face it – no matter how many times 50 year old former players with 70 year old bodies and 90 year old brains yell in our faces about the awesomeness of the Super Bowl, most of us treat it more as a screening of today’s best commercials than a generational defining sports event.  Or, if you’re a Canadian like me, you swear uncontrollably at the same three lame Canadiana pitches all afternoon, and resolve to never purchase anything from Tim Hortons ever again.

Despite my constant demand for more and more sports to be delivered to my brain-place, the NFL has never been among my choice of addictions.  It’s just the way it’s always been for me.   Let me make it clear – the NFL is the juggernaut of North American sports for a reason.  Having only 16 games a year (18 if the Jolly Roger succeeds in convincing the NFLPA that having mushroom soup for a cerebral cortex is worth an extra swimming pool at the crib) ensures that players give maximum effort and intensity in every single game.

Going off on a quick tangent, the short-season concept should also be applied to the other most physical league, the NHL, for so many reasons.  There’s a reason that the World Junior tournament is so popular (hint: it has nothing to do with watching team Canada massacre a country that probably won’t discover composite sticks for another 50 years), and that’s because the full-out maximum hitting and passion that goes into every shift creates a level of interest that you just won’t find on a Monday night game in February between the Islanders and the Leafs.

The old-school purists would never go for an abbreviated schedule, because of the sanctity of the big milestones (500 goals, 1000 points, 32 teeth missing, etc.), but it’s impossible to argue that a 30 game NHL season wouldn’t create better match-ups, rivalries, and interest in the game.

The evil Bett-man might even succeed in drawing in casual American sports fans that couldn’t care less about the league until the playoffs, an event that might promote the league above “Extreme Pogs” in the ESPN daily docket.  82 games is far too many to expect players to play with 100% energy all night, with everything left on the ice.  This is exactly why playoff hockey seems so much more fast-paced and entertaining – because it’s essentially a (maximum) 28 game tournament where you can’t afford to take one night off.

There’s a reason that I achieved such lofty praises from teachers for my writing in school, such as “adequate”, “okay”, and “VERB TENSE!!!” – it’s my ability to rant quickly and return back to my original point.

As I was saying, the NFL has never held my interest because it’s very much a sport that you need playing experience to fully appreciate.  Watching the Monday Night Football broadcast team pop boners over Brady’s ability to hit slant patterns on the run against dime defences in weather 0 degrees or colder in an outdoor game at home on a Thursday against an opposition that’s under .500 (but above .750 in road games against teams that wear silver) is just something I don’t understand.

Any non-sports fan can watch a Blake Griffin or a LeBron James commit environmental atrocities against the ozone layer with their heads, before returning to the ground (usually after jumping over an unfortunately placed eastern European) and be awed.  Just as it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why watching A-Rod bomb a small white object 500 feet is impressive, so too can the average couch potato get excited at seeing a hockey hit that fractures the time-space continuum. (I firmly believe that a Scott Stevens hit created one of these rifts around the year 2000, leading to the creation of Charles Wang as a New York Islanders owner.  One of these massive hits ensured the Devils would have one less viable divisional opponent for the next twenty years.  I refuse to believe there’s a better explanation).

People will say, “Oh, but the NFL players are so big and fast, it’s amazing just to watch them”.  Valid point.  The reality is that it’s hard to get a sense for the majesty of it when the players are all equally big on the TV screen.  Football to me is like NASCAR, where the cool factor is greatly increased when you can see it in person.  Scratch that….NASCAR is not a sport, no matter how cool Travis Pastrana makes the circuit next year.

So for you fans of sports that are casual NFL fans at best, I present to you my in-depth analysis of which team will win this Sunday’s Super Bowl.  It will be based entirely on which quarterback – Ben Roethlisberger or Aaron Rodgers –would be a better dude to add to an entourage, over four major (arbitrary) categories:

1. Sense of Humor:

AR – At first glance, Rodgers is a robot sent from the future to kill us all (pleasantly).  Nothing off-color is said in the media, humbleness is stressed, and he is genuinely likeable.  There have been reports about his sense of humor within the locker room, stories that often aren’t (or can’t) be told.  There’s a sub-story floating around this week that proves Rodgers has a sense of humor that flies under the radar at times.  I present to you:  Aaron Rodgers photobombing almost every team captain picture since he joined the team.  Funny, funny stuff.

BR –  When you’re hanging out with your best Broseidons (you better believe I’m throwing in a Bro reference into every column from here until deletion), you want the guys to all be laughing with each other.  It’s completely fair game to pick a target in the room that you don’t know (the idiot with five simultaneous popped collars was always a popular pick in university), but at the end of the day, you can’t have a guy getting laughed at on a regular basis.  This excludes the Turtle rule, which states that any mildly obese member of your group that is willing to dress in urban attire is on good terms.  There can only be one of these per group, lest you turn into a paler, lamer version of Wu-Tang Clan.

Watching Terry Bradshaw stop one block short of calling Big Ben a swamp donkey was hilarious TV, but you just really got the feeling that a true funny guy wouldn’t be having his buddy’s parents picking on him on national TV.

ADVANTAGE:  Aaron Rodgers.  With a small disadvantage to the Packers team captains.

2. Wing-man ability:

AR – The guy is in a midst of a three-year stretch that compares favorably to the best three-year stretches of Bart Starr and Brett Favre – two Lambeau legends (only one of whom managed to successfully be fined $50,000 for being a Green Bay Jacker in crocs).   Take aside the mediocre winning percentage over that stretch because of injuries to key team personnel, and AR’s stats are almost at the level Brett had during his MVP years.  He’s just entering his peak seasons at the age of 27, and is going to achieve big things in the next four to five years at a minimum.   Despite being the Next Great Quarterback he still comes across as a likeable everyman.  He’s more Manning than Brady at this point – even if it only takes one supermodel to change that perception in public – and he seems like he won’t be straying from that characterization anytime soon.  This dominance should destroy his wing-man rating because he unintentionally monopolizes every woman in the bar, but it creates a “run-off” phenomenon that actually increases his usefulness.  I’d bet a case of beer that if you hung around AR for a week at least two foreign models would dejectedly settle for you.  Score.

BR – You walk into the hottest club in town with your group, led by Big Ben.  His two Super Bowl rings are flashing like a spotlight on every attractive lady within 50 meters.  You saddle up to the bar, and are immediately presented with multiple drinks of a fine caliber.  You smile and look to the sky, content that life couldn’t be better than this.  You look back down (just like the Old Spice guy) and find a couple cops interviewing people, along with no sign of Big Ben.  Terry Bradshaw rips you the next day.  You wonder what the hell just happened.

ADVANTAGE:  Aaron Rodgers.  “Taking advantage of” doesn’t count in this case, Ben.

3. Salary:

AR – 6 years, $65 million

BR – 8 years, $102 million

ADVANTAGE:  Ben Roethlisberger.  You always want one of your boys to be doing better than everyone else.  It’s good for the status of the group.  Note: this amount does not include pay-offs to harassed college students.  For now though, Ben wins. 

4. Winning/Legacy:

AR – Are we this excited for a guy that’s in his first Super Bowl ever, with only a couple career playoff wins?  His performance in Atlanta with 366 yards passing, 3 TDs and a robust 136.8 passer rating has already been called one of the best post-season performances of all-time.  I would disagree with that level of exaggeration for a game that wasn’t even a conference championship, but it’s clear that the man is a gamer, and can win in hostile environments.  It’s true that going from the frozen wasteland of Green Bay to an indoor dome in Atlanta helped pad AR’s stats.  I expect that the newest wonder of the world, Cowboys Stadium will do the same.  Remember though: Aaron Rodgers still has 0 Super Bowls. He will have one by next Monday.

BR – Two Super Bowl rings immediately elevate him into elite quarterback territory…. but I just have never been a huge fan.  He’s developed a well-deserved reputation as a quarterback who can string together broken plays, but he’s been aided by Steelers teams that are strong from top to bottom with all-stars and future hall of famers.  Give him credit for his toughness where it’s due: there’s zero chance he’ll come off the field unless Green Bay LB Clay Matthews gets a couple clean shots on him.

ADVANTAGE:  Ben Roethlisberger.  Just barely though….you can’t argue with rings, but it’s only going to take Rodgers one clutch game where he takes his beaten-up Packers team to a title for him to re-claim this category.  AR will win multiple rings in his career and leapfrog Roethlisberger in the all-time quarterback discussion.

OVERALL: Rodgers.  My Packers bias aside, the guy is going to do big things in the next half-decade that should place him in the Brady/Manning/Brees discussion.  Of course, one more win for Big Ben and he’s right there too, which is one of the biggest reasons why I’ll be watching the game on Sunday.

Prediction: Packers: 34  Steelers 21


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  1. March 7, 2012 at 7:07 pm

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