The young quarterback had just finished one of the greatest seasons of all-time for a passer. It might have been the best ever. He was just in his second year and already he was tearing up the NFL.

Yet he was no regular season wonder. He loaded his team onto his golden right arm and marched them right into the Super Bowl, against the squad that would come to be known as The Team of the ’80s.

The Miami Dolphins lost Super Bowl XIX, but their brash young quarterback didn’t fret all too much.

“I figured we’d be back—again and again,” Dan Marino said.

After the third or fourth year of NOT being back, Marino started to rethink that assertion.

Marino never did get back, despite a 17-year career.

Brett Favre was in his fifth season as the Green Bay Packers’ starting QB when he went to the first of two straight Super Bowls (he went 1-1).

Favre never got back, either—and he played for 13 years after that.

As wonderfully gifted as Aaron Rodgers is, as on top of the football world as he is this morning, and as young as he is, he plays in the National Football League, where the smart money often turns dumb in a hurry, and unexpectedly.

You’d like to think that the rest of the NFL ought to look out, that Rodgers will be set loose on the opposition. You might believe that he is the new Bradshaw, or Montana, or Brady—making several pilgrimages to the Super Bowl.

Or he might be another Marino, or Favre—sparkling passers, terrific leaders who found a return trip to the Big Game to be mighty elusive.

I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade today. This isn’t me portending doom and gloom.

But we’ll see how Rodgers fares. We’ll see if he’s ready to join Brady, his contemporary in the AFC, and become the preeminent quarterback of the NFC.

Care to wager on whether we’ll see a Rodgers-Brady matchup one Super Sunday in the near future?

Rodgers was brilliant yet again yesterday, as he’s been all season, and as he was throughout the post-season. His numbers would have been even more gaudy were it not for all the dropped passes.

Still, he threw for over 300 yards, tossed three TD passes, and turned three Pittsburgh Steelers turnovers into 21 points.

Rodgers is elite now. He’s the poor man’s Steve Young, in that he has, in one fell swoop, escaped the shadow of a legend and won a championship. Two gorillas removed with one stone.

Young never got back to a Super Bowl, either, after beating San Diego in 1995.

It would seem that Aaron Rodgers’ football world is his oyster. He’s still young, he’s on top of his game, and he has equally as young teammates who are key contributors.

There doesn’t appear to be any serious contender for his status as the best QB in the conference, other than maybe Drew Brees.

Brady is still the best quarterback in the league, because he was just named its MVP—unanimously.

Rodgers seems to be on the verge of greatness that would eclipse even that of Bart Starr and Favre, his two Green Bay co-superstars.

But the NFL doesn’t play that game, all the time. It doesn’t anoint so easily.

Rodgers should get back to the Big Game, maybe as early as next season. Regardless, he ought to be back, more than once.

He should.

We’ll see.

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