There is a changing of the guard in the NFL. It has taken a while to happen, but it is finally happening. The days of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger always being in the mix might be slowly coming to a halt, in one way or another.
Manning has been retired for years now, Brady is in his 40s and faces an uncertain future and Ben Roethlisberger is coming off a season-ending elbow injury with his health being a major concern moving forward.
With the Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans ready to face off on Sunday in the AFC Championship game at Arrowhead Stadium it marks the first time in 17 years either Brady, Manning or Roethlisberger aren’t a part of the AFC Championship game in some fashion.
Check out the list of quarterbacks who played in the conference championship for the American Football Conference, via ProFootballTalk:
AFC Championship Game Starting Quarterbacks
2020: Patrick Mahomes/Ryan Tannehill
2019: Tom Brady/Mahomes
2018: Brady/Blake Bortles
2017: Brady/Ben Roethlisberger
2016: Peyton Manning/Brady
2015: Brady/Andrew Luck
2013: Joe Flacco/Brady
2011: Roethlisberger/Mark Sanchez
2008: Brady/Philip Rivers
2006: Roethlisberger/Jake Plummer
2003: Rich Gannon/Steve McNair
2002: Brady/Kordell Stewart
When you look at the above list, you can’t help but realize how the league is experiencing a changing of the guard. We all knew the run of this trio of quarterbacks wouldn’t last forever, and while it seems the end might be near for Brady and Roethlisberger, both fans of the Patriots and Steelers are holding out hope for one, or two, more years in the sun before the two active players join Manning in retirement.
In the meantime, it will be strange to see an AFC Championship game being played without one of the aforementioned quarterbacks in the lineup. Who are you rooting for? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they press on throughout the offseason.