Aaron Rodgers was once the talk of the NFL and one of the most loved in Green Bay. And that date was February 6th, 2011. If this date doesn't come to you right away, just know, the Packers became 13 time world champions, with Rodgers becoming the MVP of the Super Bowl. It was a good day to live in Green Bay, having off from school like it was a holiday. Many people took off work as well. Rodgers was more or less, officially a superstar everywhere at the age of 27. Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy lead the Packers to a 10-6 record, after suffering 2 concussions and going 8-6 before coming back to beat the New York Giants on December 26th, winning 45-17 (This was also my first Packers game, and I saw John Kuhn score and everyone was saying “KUHHHHHHN” but i thought they were booing so I did too. Don't judge me, I just turned 10). The next game, the Packers beat the Chicago Bears 10-3 and made the 6th seed. After knocking off the top 3 seeds in a row, Green Bay went to face the 12-4 Steelers.
2011 was another great year for the Packers and their fans, and it started with the 2011 lockout. Many teams were not able to hold official off-season workouts, and while many teams did, the Packers were one of them that did not. This was a worry for Week 1 of the season against the New Orleans Saints, who did hold off-season workouts. People were worried Rodgers and Co. wouldn't be able to knock off the Saints, but quickly shut down those worries, winning 42-34 and winning NFC Player of the Week. In the press conference after the game, Rodgers said "I was going to ask myself, what would have happened if we had offseason workouts? I mean, could we have started any faster and scored more points tonight?" The Packers lost in week 15 to the Chiefs, who ended the second longest winning streak in NFL history at 19. Green Bay finished the season 15-1 and Aaron solidified himself as the best quarterback in the league, with 4,643 yards, 45 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, as well as an NFL record of 122.5 QBR, which has not been broken to this day. The next closest? Aaron Rodgers in 2020 with 121.5. Aaron was also voted as the number one player in the league and won the 2011 NFL MVP.
In 2013, the Packers signed Aaron Rodgers to a record breaking contract extension of 5 years, $110 million dollars. That year, he broke a franchise record with 335 passing yards in the first half, and became the first player since Y.A. Tittle in 1962 to throw for 480 yards, 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. These both came during week 2 against the Redskins. The 480 yards also tied a franchise record of most yards in a game with Matt Flynn’s week 17 game in 2011. Aaron Rodgers fractured his collarbone against the Bears (who did not taunt his injury like Vikings fans did in 2017 and continue to this day) and missed most of the season until week 17 and made it into the playoffs, just to lose in the wildcard round. This year he was ranked as the number 11 player in the NFL, which he didn't like. The year after in 2014, Rodgers posted the stat line of 4,381 passing yards, 38 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, winning his second MVP.
In 2016, Aaron Rodgers led the Packers to a record of 10-6 and winning the division. Green Bay won it's wildcard round against the Giants, 38-13 and Dallas 34-31 in the game that's known for Dez Bryant not being able to hold onto the ball as he fell to the ground. (Yes I am saying Dez dropped it.) Green Bay unfortunately lost the NFC Championship Game against the Atlanta Falcons, 44-21, losing it's first Championship game in the Aaron Rodgers era. The next year, Rodgers went down and broke his collarbone against the Vikings, in which Rodgers said that Anthony Barr, the one who hit him, said “Anthony Barr gave me the finger, 'suck it' sign after breaking my collarbone” and missed the playoffs in 2017 and Ted Thompson announced that he wasn't going to be the Packers General Manager, and the Packers chose Brian Gutekunst over Russ Ball and Eliot Wolf. Gutekunst was the Packers director of Player Personnel in 2016 and 2017. In 2018, Aaron signed a massive 4 year extension worth $134 million, with a signing bonus of $57.5 million. On December 2nd, after a loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Mike McCarthy was fired. It was time for a new face.
The Packers hired the Titans offensive coordinator, Matt LaFleur to be the new head coach. This was Aaron's first time having to learn a new playbook and 3rd new coach (Joe Philbin was the interim head coach after McCarthy was fired for 4 games) and needless to say, the season went pretty well. In LaFleur’s first year, him and Rodgers led the Packers to a 13-3 record and the #1 seed in the NFC. Unfortunately, the Packers lost the 2019 NFC Championship game to the San Francisco 49ers run game. The 49ers ran the ball a total of 42 times for 285 yards and 4 touchdowns and only threw the ball a total of 8 times the entire game.
The NFL Season in 2020 started out in a bad way, with the Packers not communicating with Aaron and drafting his potential replacement, Jordan Love with the 26th pick, in which Green Bay traded the 30th and 136th pick to do so. This confused so many fans, as they felt that Green Bay was giving up on Rodgers and attempting to rebuild a team that was only one game away from the Super Bowl. This gained more traction after Green Bay did not draft a wide receiver, who everyone felt that the Packers needed. But Rodgers fought on. He showed up to OTAs and camp, and mentored Jordan Love. He wasn't mad at Love, he was mad at the front office. He even said that he isn't sure of what his future holds of him anymore.
Aaron started his 2020 season off in a way he's never done so, and that was with no crowd. Historic Lambeau Field had an attendance of 0. There was nobody in the stands, and Rodgers said it was “one of the strangest experiences I've had in the NFL” and rightfully so. The fans are always cheering on the Packers and it was gone. Rodgers had no distractions and was able to lead the Packers to 13-3 once again and the NFC Championship game for a second year in a row, this time against a Tom Brady led Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in which the Buccaneers beat the Packers 31-26. After this game, Rodgers reiterated that he doesn't know what his future holds. Aaron also won his third NFL MVP and had the stat line of 4,299 yards, 48 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions, with a QBR of 121.5.
The day of the 2021 Draft, Adam Schefter of ESPN announced that Rodgers wanted out of Green Bay. The Aaron Rodgers saga continued (and still is) but Aaron Rodgers spoke publicly for the first time on Kenny Mayne’s final ESPN show, and while Aaron didn't answer if he wanted out, he did say this: “I love Jordan, he's a great kid, lot of fun to work together, I love my coaching staff, I love my teammates, love the fanbase in Green Bay, it's incredible, incredible 16 years, it's just kind of about a philosophy” which can be traced back to Green Bay’s front office not communicating with Rodgers about the team's plans moving forwards. Aaron did miss the first week of OTAs while being in Hawaii for a wedding. He also missed the second set of OTAs (At the time of the writing) and has already forfeit $500k of his workout bonus. Only time will tell if he’s willing to miss mandatory minicamp and be fined $93k for each day missed.
1: He's the Reigning MVP and has no signs of slowing down
Nobody can deny Aaron Rodgers is one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, and easily one of the most important figures in the Packers 101 year history. The Packers need to realize that Rodgers is still playing at such a competitive level, and admit their mistake in drafting his successor early. Rodgers is only 37, and has expressed his desire to play into his 40s.
2: Aaron loves the city and the fans
It's clear that Aaron loves the state of Wisconsin and the fans who made him feel at home. Lambeau is his home. He stated in the Kenny Mayne interview how important the fans were to him and the Packers organization. But his love for the fans extends beyond just Green Bay, and Aaron has always wanted to give back. Aaron has been a massive part for charities, such as the MACC Fund, which Rodgers appeared in a Dude Perfect trick shot video back in 2015 to raise awareness for it and help earn money towards it, as well as winning celebrity Jeopardy in 2015, raising $50k for it. Rodgers has also partnered with David Portnoy of Barstool and committed $500k of his own money to the Barstool Fund, which helps small businesses get back on their feet after Covid-19. Aaron also worked with the Brewers until Ryan Braun lied to him about his use of PEDs, and Rodgers was also the first active NFL player to buy ownership stake into an NBA team, being the Bucks.
3: Green Bay can force Rodgers to stay or retire
Now this option, while extreme, is true. While Rodgers does have 3 years left on his current deal (Including 2021), Green Bay could also franchise tag Rodgers after that, giving that he will be about 42 once he's done. Also need to know information, Rodgers would also have to pay back large amounts of his signing and roster bonuses and can be fined and lose all of his money for the next few years. He also does not have a no trade clause in his contract, allowing Green Bay full control for at least the next 3 years of his NFL career, if Green Bay wants to go that route.
4: The team is built around him
It will be extremely difficult to find another roster around the league like the Packers, and with Rodgers getting up there in age, Green Bay has taken many measures to make sure their quarterback is protected and healthy, and this starts with drafting 6 offensive linemen within the last 2 drafts. Rodgers has one of the best offensive lines, with the best left tackle in David Bakhtiari (his best friend and pro beer chugger), as well as versatile left guard Elgton Jenkins who has shown he can play every position on the line. Aaron also has a threatening backfield, with a top 6 running back in Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon, whos quads each have their own names, with one being Quadzilla and the other being The Quadfather. He also has one of the best receiving cores in the league (regardless of what fans think, MVS is a good receiver if he can fix his drop issue) as well as having the best wide receiver in the NFL in Davante Adams, as well as emerging tight end Robert “Bob” Tonyan.
While I am a firm believer on Rodgers returning to the Packers for 2021, there are issues with the front office that will need to be fixed and amends need to be made. Packers president Mark Murphy has made it very clear that GM Brian Gutekunst will not be fired no matter what.