Michael Jordan started the conversation on Twitter, and LeBron James chimed in on the question that will never leave our minds: Who is the G.O.A.T.?

Of course, we’re talking about quarterbacks Tom Brady versus Aaron Rodgers before the two square off on Sunday Night Football. 

But why are we even having this debate? Even Brady and Rodgers know Joe Montana is the G.O.A.T.

Growing up in Northern California — Brady in San Mateo and Rodgers in Chico — both players were 49ers fans throughout their childhoods and idolized Montana. Brady even dressed as his favorite players, Joe Cool, for Halloween 35 years ago. 

Brady was 6 when he dressed up as Montana for Halloween, but he was 4 when he was at Candlestick Park for the greatest play in 49ers history. On Jan. 10, 1982, Brady cried the whole first half in San Francisco, begging for a foam finger. In the fourth quarter, Dwight Clark gave fans tears of joy that day with The Catch in the back of the end zone against the Cowboys.

Asked about Montana comparisons back in 2016 before Brady’s first time playing the 49ers in San Francisco, the Patriots star make his feelings loud and clear on comparisons. 

 

“I don’t ever see myself like him,” Brady said to the Mercury News. “He was so spectacular, and I think he’s in a league of his own."

Brady also knows that the modern NFL favors quarterbacks and passing much more than it did for Montana. After multiple rule changes to protect quarterbacks and encourage passing, we’re seeing records broken left and right for a reason. 

"I don't agree with that," Brady said to ESPN in 2017 when asked if he’s passed Montana as the G.O.A.T. "and I'll tell you why. I know myself as a player. I'm really a product of what I've been around, who I was coached by, what I played against, in the era I played in. I really believe if a lot of people were in my shoes they could accomplish the same kinds of things. So I've been very fortunate.”

Rodgers didn’t don Montana’s gear for Halloween, as far as we know, but he did have a piece of Montana on him while starring at the University of California. Rodgers played at Cal for two seasons, 2003 and 2004, before going No. 24 overall in the 2005 NFL Draft to the Green Bay Packers.

While at Cal, Rodgers wore a Montana 49ers shirt under his No. 8 jersey. 

Brady has one more Super Bowl ring than Montana with five, while Rodgers has one ring to his name. But Brady, with three losses on the biggest stage, knows why Montana is the G.O.A.T.

"He was a winner. Every time he took the field, it felt like the 49ers were going to win," Brady said in his interview with the Mercury News. 

Whenever the 49ers were on the field in the Super Bowl and Montana was under center, they did win, as the G.O.A.T. was a perfect 4 for 4.