Eras come and go in sports and we’re witnessing a changing of the guard in the NFL. In fact, we may already be in a new era.
Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and others were the cream of the crop at quarterback in the NFL for over a decade. However, with Brady being bounced in the first round and Rodgers missing the playoffs altogether, it’s a youth movement in the NFL.
The four quarterbacks playing on championship Sunday are all quite young and early on in their careers – even if it feels like Patrick Mahomes has been around forever. Brock Purdy is a rookie, Joe Burrow and Jalen Hurts were both drafted in 2020, and Mahomes is still only 27 years old.
Carl Dukes and Brian Baldinger of the Audacy Original Podcast “In The Huddle” talked about the passing of the torch at quarterback with the young guys ushering in a new era.
“Looking at the ages of these quarterbacks that are in the championship games. Patrick Mahomes is 27, he’s already won a Super Bowl. Burrow’s been to a Super Bowl, he’s 26. Jalen Hurts is 24. Brock Purdy’s 23,” Dukes said (8:46 in player above). “It’s the second time since 1996 that all four quarterbacks are under the age of 28. Back in ‘96, Baldy, it was Favre, he was 27, Bledsoe was 24, Mark Brunell was 26, and Kerry Collins was 24. And the point I’m bringing up is we’re seeing the torch being passed, aren’t we?”
Mahomes has already established himself as the best quarterback in the league. He’s won a regular-season MVP, Super Bowl, and Super Bowl MVP, while appearing in another Super Bowl. This will be Mahomes’ fifth-straight AFC Championship Game appearance as well.
Burrow is no slouch either. After a 2-7-1 record in 10 starts in his rookie year, he led the Bengals to the Super Bowl after a 10-6 regular-season record. Burrow won the Comeback Player of the Year award as well. This year, he’s once again showing that he can talk the talk and walk the walk.
Of course, Hurts is establishing himself as well. He is a finalist for the MVP this year – as are Mahomes and Burrows – and may have been able to run away with it if he stayed healthy. He’s only played in two playoff games and this will be his first NFC Championship Game appearance, but by the looks of it, it will not be his last.
It’s a youth movement at quarterback in the NFL.
“Look, no disrespect to Aaron Rodgers, of course, or Tom Brady, but this is a young man’s game, and it’s young in a lot of different ways,” Baldinger said. “It’s young because it’s good to be youthful, it’s good to bounce back, just the vibrancy. But it’s also about team building and chemistry.”
Baldinger gets a chance to be around the Eagles, so he sees firsthand how much of an impact Hurts has on not just the team, but the franchise. The same goes for Burrow and Mahomes.
“I’m in Philly, Carl, I’m around Jalen, I know how that team has molded and how Jalen is the undisputed leader,” he said. “You just have to watch Joe Burrow walk into a locker room, walk onto the field, you know who the leader of the team is. And you know how everybody, the entire organization looks up to him. It’s the same thing with Patrick. They run the organization, Carl. When you say the face of it, they run it. It’s all them.”
The focus this offseason will be on the futures of Brady and Rodgers, but they’ve given way to Mahomes, Burrow, Hurts, and Purdy on championship Sunday.