Former Super Bowl champion Trent Dilfer, now coaching collegiately at Alabama-Birmingham (UAB), apparently doesn’t share the media’s fascination with Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, dismissing their accomplishments as products of a sport bearing little resemblance to the one he played 20 years ago during his Ravens heyday.
“The modern-day game does not impress me,” said Dilfer in a scathing soundbite from Bullies of Baltimore, an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary that debuted Sunday night. “It’s super easy when you don’t get hit as a quarterback and when you can’t reroute receivers and when you can’t hit guys across the middle. I love Tom Brady. I love Aaron Rodgers. I love these guys. It’s not impressive.”
Dilfer’s complaint is a fairly common one among former players, lamenting how the game has turned “soft,” assessing stiffer penalties for late hits and unnecessary roughness, among other on-field acts that could be perceived as reckless or overly aggressive. Though Dilfer may view that as an unfair advantage, Brady and Rodgers’ impressive longevity is a skill in itself, requiring the utmost diligence and preparation, avoiding injuries by processing their surroundings with superior anticipation.
And while it’s a valid argument that counting stats have been inflated by the pass-centric nature of today’s NFL, prioritizing chunk plays over the slow burn of ground and pound, it’s rich coming from Dilfer, a low-wattage journeyman who threw more interceptions (129) than touchdowns (113) over his 14 seasons. In fact, Dilfer is routinely listed among the worst quarterbacks to ever win a Super Bowl, largely serving as a game-manager for a Ravens defense that would go down as one of the most prolific in NFL history.
Even if Brady and Rodgers both benefited from the league’s newfound emphasis on player safety, a luxury Dilfer, whose career spanned from 1994-2007, would claim he wasn’t afforded, both have had a profound impact on their respective eras, defining a generation of quarterbacks relying on skill and accuracy.
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