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Packers fan says goodbye to Aaron Rodgers amid departure rumors

Packers Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I first became interested in football and the NFL when I was seven years old. My next door neighbor, Ethan, was a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan and every time I went over to his house, a game would be playing on the TV. At that age, I was already playing youth soccer and had some interest in sports, so it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with football – and specifically, the Packers. 

I personally think it is fortuitous timing, but in the second year I started watching the NFL, the Packers won Super Bowl XLV. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers led the charge and was named Super Bowl Most Valuable Player. From then on, he became my favorite player on the team. 

In the years that followed that championship, I have been continually awed and amazed with his play. In my opinion, he is one of the best quarterbacks to have played the game just based on his on-field performances. I don’t have enough time to list out all of his accomplishments, but here are some of the most impressive one: four-time NFL MVP (ranks second in NFL history), four-time First-Team All-Pro, second on the all-time regular season career passer rating list, best touchdown-to-interception ratio in NFL history (475 TDs to only 105 interceptions) and he holds the record for top two single-season passer rating in NFL history (122.5 in 2011 and 121.5 in 2020). Honestly, he has so many achievements, though partly due to his 18-year career, that there is no debate – as soon as he’s eligible, he’ll be getting a gold jacket and red carpet rolled out to Canton.

When news broke on March 15 that Rodgers declared his desire to play for the New York Jets on The Pat McAfee Show, I was shocked. I had heard the rumors and speculation that he wanted out, but I always thought he’d retire as a Packer. As sad as I am that I won’t get to watch him play again in the green and gold, I wish him all the best in New York. I will still root for him and hope to see the Jets have success (I do like rooting for loyal fanbases like the Jets and the Detroit Lions that have stuck behind their historically bad teams). However, I’m honestly more disappointed Green Bay and the front office didn’t do enough to help Rodgers get his second Vince Lombardi Trophy. 

This article isn’t only a thank you letter to Rodgers – it’s also a call to action for General Manager Brian Gutekunst and President Mark Murphy. Year after year, the Packers have failed to surround Rodgers with the talent he deserved. I worry that if things start heading south, it will be head coach Matt LaFleur who’ll get the boot. In my opinion, if Jordan Love – who has sat behind Rodgers for three years and is now the starter – doesn’t show any promise this year, Gutekunst needs to go.

Also, for those Packers fans who say “good riddance” to Rodgers because he is a “diva,” the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. I may strongly disagree with Rodgers off-the-field, but he was right to ask for a high quality supporting cast the last few years and he wasn’t being a “diva.” If you are, in my opinion, the best QB in franchise history, I think you are allowed to have some say or allowed into the conversations about the roster.

I’ve seen other teams in the NFL make aggressive trades and roster decisions to help a middle-of-the-pack or above-average quarterback. I mean, look at Baker Mayfield. That man had not only Nick Chubb in the backfield, but the 2019 Cleveland Browns went and got Odell Beckham Jr. from the New York Giants to play alongside Jarvis Landry. The Packers have never in my lifetime done a blockbuster trade like this. Look at last year, after the departure of All-Pro receiver Davante Adams. We replaced him with Sammy Freakin Watkins, who had literally one good game and disappeared from the stat sheet like he has since his career began. Maybe it’s because I’ve been spoiled that the Packers have always been a good team and stable organization, but sometimes I question if we’d rather be a “good team” and stay complacent instead of trying to be a “great team.”

I get so frustrated thinking about the 2020 season when I thought the Packers had a legitimate shot to win the Super Bowl. That was the year we drafted Jordan Love, the year Rodgers won his third MVP and the year we lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship. What a rollercoaster of emotions in one sentence. 

I am rooting for Love and will always root for the Packers, but I am worried the Packers wasted the No. 26 draft pick on an average quarterback. Instead of getting a wide receiver like Tee Higgins who would’ve complemented Adams and helped put us over the top, we may have moved up in the draft and wasted the last years of Rodgers’ career for nothing. This controversial pick is emblematic of the Packers not being able to “reload” the team with high draft picks. Looking at history, the team has literally spent 11 out of their last 12 first-round draft picks on defensive players, yet has not gotten much consistency on that side of the field.

In terms of the Jordan Love pick, I do think us fans should give him a little grace period to see how good he actually is now that he is the starter. I obviously don’t expect him to fill Rodgers’ shoes – the chances of an NFL team having three back-to-back Hall of Fame quarterbacks is slim to none. 

However, I think after this season, if it is clear he isn’t the answer or hasn’t developed as much as he should have, we need to cut our losses and try a soft rebuild. J.Love, who is already in year three of his rookie deal, needs to show his worth and that the pick wasn’t a mistake. It’s not all doom and gloom for fans as the Packers still have some good pieces on the roster and a core of young players in Christian Watson and Quay Walker. 

This is a new Packers team compared to the one I grew up with – the last player remaining (unless he gets traded in the next week) is kicker Mason Crosby. I am excited to see the direction and future we go into and I still believe we can be an exciting team to not underestimate. This doesn’t mean I can ignore the utter disappointment I feel when looking back at Aaron Rodgers’ career. For all he gave to the team and fans, I just wish he would have had “two-time Super Bowl Champion with the Green Bay Packers” listed next to his name when he becomes a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

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