“Father Time and injuries are tough adversaries,” former bodybuilder and eight-year Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman once said.
Never has this been truer than it is this season for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Now 35 years-old and bouncing back from two injury-plagued playoff-less seasons, the Packers front-office and new Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, as well as cheeseheads worldwide need and expect their one-time Super Bowl MVP to produce. Now…right now.
The Packers have proven that they have no problem making hard decisions when they see fit. This is, after all, the same organization that dismissed Hall of Famer Bart Starr as head coach after a disappointing 8-8 since in 1984.
Starr, a two-time Super Bowl Champion, two-time Super Bowl MVP, and one-time NFL MVP, and one of the best to ever wear a Packers uniform found himself jobless when the Packers had to choose between winning or their hero.
A Super Bowl appearance for the aging pigskin-slinger is not out of the question. Former St. Louis Rams QB and “Greatest Show on Turf” ringleader Kurt Warner returned to the big show at age 37 with the Arizona Cardinals after a six-year hiatus. There have been 15 quarterbacks over the age of 35 to guide their franchise to the Super Bowl in its 53-year history. Of those, six have been in the past six Super Bowls. History has proven that a quarterback’s age is no deterrent to a Super Bowl appearance, and Rodgers still has the talent and athleticism expected of an elite quarterback in the NFL
But what about the coach? Can a first-year coach seriously make a Super Bowl run? Sure he can. Six coaches have taken their team to the Super Bowl over the years, with three, Don McCafferty (Baltimore Colts), George Seifert (San Francisco 49ers), and Jon Gruden (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at games end.
NFL.com ranked Rodgers fifth in their QB rankings at the end of last season. The 2018 Pro Bowler ranked second only to MVP Patrick Mahomes in the fewest below-average games in the regular season. There’s still plenty of gas left in the tank, and the fire still burns in Rodgers entering the 2019 season.
However, a QB’s Pro-Bowl season is of little significance to a rabid fanbase accustomed to winning. Packers fans would much rather have a winning season rather than a 6-9-1 record and a Pro Bowler under center. In the prior season, 2017, the Pack posted a 7-9 record. This was foreign territory for cheeseheads at the time. In the past 20 years, only four seasons were under .500. These past two seasons accounting for half of those sub-par years.
Packers fans are firm believers in winning. When they don’t, rightly or wrongly, they look for someone to blame. Who better, than the QB who just got a lucrative deal that makes him one of the top five paid QBs in 2019.
The city of Green Bay will suffer losers for a season. Perhaps two. But absolutely no more. Rodgers would do well to heed this. A healthy Rodgers must produce this year. The playoffs would be nice. The NFC Championship, even better. The Super Bowl… divine!
“I know I’m capable of greatness,” said Rodgers once, “and I’m expecting to reach that level.” So is Packers Nation, Aaron. So is Packers Nation.