Now that the Packers version of Punxsutawney Phil has emerged from his cave and told us he did not see his shadow and his winter home in Green Bay may be moving on to the fast moving and high scrutiny of the Big Apple, fans should ask themselves…will we miss him?
Aaron Rogers brought a Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay and was a four time MVP. Playoffs, until 2022, were a given. Beating the Bears and Detroit a yearly tradition. The transition from Favre to Rodgers produced for the most part 20+ years of winning seasons. Rodgers got Ted Thompson into the Packer Hall of Fame and maybe, someday, his bust enshrined in Canton.
Brian Gutekunst’s chance to be immortalized by the Green Bay faithful will now be driven by Jordan Love. After three years with only a learner’s permit, Love now gets the keys to the yellow and green Camaro with the big “G” logo.
But a lingering question is, will we miss Aaron Rodgers? When Favre made sufficient retirement gestures coupled with complaints about training camp and preseason reps to draw the ire of the Packer front office, the fans still wanted more. As training camp began and Favre changed his mind, again, fans spat insults and saliva towards Rodgers, blaming him for the loss of a Lambeau legend. Favre’s trade only fueled the animosity toward Rodgers and led to game by game comparisons. When Rodgers gives his fair well, it is doubtful that fans will blame Love. It is unlikely that many will vocalize any longing to have Rodgers back in earshot of Love. Perhaps we could chalk that up to lessons learned. Fans that spewed harsh words and worse in Rodgers direction should be ashamed of their actions. No excuses, no attempts to deflect responsibility. A sad sliver of Packer fandom history.
But a true reason there will be a quiet response has more to do with Rodgers and the 2022 season. The power negotiations after his MVP year combined with his lack of participation in the off season program would have been washed away with another winning season. But 2022 was not a winning season. A home loss to Detroit to end the season summed up the Packer woes. Fans walked out of Lambeau that Sunday knowing Rodgers could not save this Packer team. He is 40 years old. He is almost one dimensional, his running ability has evaporated the last few years. And he is only getting older. And then there is his off field personality.
I for one will miss the off the field Aaron Rodgers. In a day when athletes are pressured to conform so that they can “maximize their brand” Rodgers was a breath of fresh air. He spoke his mind whether it improved his image or not. Just being willing to throw out his recent four day hibernation is an example of his candid nature. While some may criticize him for not disclosing his vaccination status, he clearly knew that his stance had the potential for team distraction and he tried to answer the question without creating an uproar. When the truth hit the fan, it would have been easy for him to acquiesce, to retract, to apologize, basically…to lie. He did not, and he was roasted by many. But now from the lens of 2023, I don’t care what his stance was and I think those that pointed fingers at the unvaccinated and labeled them killers, may have had more political motives than health concerns. Say what you will, Aaron Rodgers is/was a unique player and unique person. His passing skills as a Packer were a thing of beauty. In his younger days he could run and he did with great anticipation. He was Green Bay’s leader and he was a winner. I will miss his passes. I will miss his running. I will miss his competitive nature . And I will miss the man, the quotes, the little smile when he knew he was ruffling a reporter’s feathers. I hope I do not miss the winning tradition that he was handed by Brett Favre and carried as well as any quarterback wearing green and gold since Bart Starr. Good luck to you Mr. Rodgers. I will miss your neighborhood.