Sports | January 13, 2022 12:33 pm

Aaron Rodgers Falls Out of NFL’s Most-Liked Players as Patrick Mahomes Rises

Ex-New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was the most-liked skill-position player in last season's pre-playoff poll

Aaron Rodgers of the Packers shakes hands with Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs. In a poll of the most popular NFL players before the playoffs in 2022, Mahomes beats Rodgers by a considerable margin.
Aaron Rodgers of the Packers shakes hands with Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs in 2019.
Quinn Harris/Getty

When former New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees retired from the NFL to take a job at NBC, he vacated the title of most-liked skill-position player, which he claimed in Morning Consult’s annual pre-playoff survey last season.

Brees, who was six months removed from polarizing remarks about players kneeling during the national anthem during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, scored a net favorability rating of 37 among U.S. adults in the poll, a figure calculated by taking the 45% of respondents with a favorable opinion of Brees and subtracting the 8% with an unfavorable opinion of the 42-year-old future Hall-of-Famer.

With Brees now calling games instead of playing in ’em (although he did have an option to come back), there’a new sheriff in town in terms of popularity and his name is Patrick Mahomes.

Already a Super Bowl champion and a league MVP at the age of 26, the Kansas City Chiefs star signal-caller checks in with a net favorability rating of 34 based on Morning Consult’s polling prior to this season’s edition of the playoffs. “Sentiment toward Mahomes, whose endorsement portfolio includes State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., Procter & Gamble Co.’s Head & Shoulders shampoo and Adidas AG, is virtually unchanged from last season’s survey,” per Morning Consult.

The same cannot be said for Aaron Rodgers, who finished just behind Brees and Mahomes with a net favorability of 32 last year but has seen his rating plunge dramatically this season to 15 despite playing at an MVP-caliber level. The size of the drop in popularity is surprising, but a decline likely should have been expected due to all the controversy surrounding Rodgers’s COVID-19 vaccination status and his polarizing comments about handling the virus.

Well ahead of Rodgers and just behind Mahomes, Russell Wilson of the Seahawks checks in with a favorability rating of 28, followed by Rob Gronkowski of the Buccaneers (27), Josh Allen of the Bills (25) and Tom Brady of the Bucs (25).

As Morning Consult notes, 44-year-old Brady is the NFL’s most well-known player as well as its most polarizing.

“Ninety-one percent of Americans said they had heard of the six-time Super Bowl champion, putting him well ahead of Rodgers, whose 70% awareness was second among the 157 players included in the survey,” per the publication. “The 47% of respondents who said they had a favorable opinion of Brady was the highest of any player, while the 22% with an unfavorable opinion of him was the second-highest, behind only his former teammate, wide receiver Antonio Brown (28% unfavorable; minus-13 net favorability rating).”