Perspective | The Packers need one more act of defiance from Aaron Rodgers

Perspective: The Packers need one more act of defiance from Aaron Rodgers

1/22/2022 10:33:00 AM

Perspective: The Packers need one more act of defiance from Aaron Rodgers

After all the controversy and distrust, Aaron Rodgers has a final chance to unify and inspire.

). The pain must feel even more acute because Green Bay has lost one step shy of the Super Bowl in its past three playoff appearances.The on-field implications create plenty of tension. Add the possibility of closure for a successful-turned-awkward partnership and the scrutiny of Rodgers’s bizarre celebrity heel turn, and the pressure feels unmanageable. But Rodgers being Rodgers, there is one more thing to carry: his legacy.

AdvertisementStory continues below advertisementHe secured a spot among the game’s all-time greats long ago. But he wants to be on the exclusive list of quarterbacks who have won multiple Super Bowls. There are 12 in NFL history, and four are players from his era: Brady, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. Another ring isn’t necessary to validate his talent or impact on the game. But it would emphasize that his way, though unorthodox and cynical and narcissistic, still has virtue.

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San Francisco in 2020 ). The pain must feel even more acute because Green Bay has lost one step shy of the Super Bowl in its past three playoff appearances. The on-field implications create plenty of tension. Add the possibility of closure for a successful-turned-awkward partnership and the scrutiny of Rodgers’s bizarre celebrity heel turn, and the pressure feels unmanageable. But Rodgers being Rodgers, there is one more thing to carry: his legacy. Advertisement Story continues below advertisement He secured a spot among the game’s all-time greats long ago. But he wants to be on the exclusive list of quarterbacks who have won multiple Super Bowls. There are 12 in NFL history, and four are players from his era: Brady, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. Another ring isn’t necessary to validate his talent or impact on the game. But it would emphasize that his way, though unorthodox and cynical and narcissistic, still has virtue. John Clayton: The biggest questions for the divisional round of the NFL playoffs In his public comments this season, Rodgers has drifted inward. Nevertheless, he thinks about the end of his career and the standard of excellence he wants to leave behind. “It’s all a part of it,’’ Rodgers said this week. “Success is often based, for quarterbacks, on championships won. Success individually is much more than that. And on the flip side of that, failure, in my opinion, shouldn’t be based solely on your losses and your failures and your mistakes and your low points. Advertisement Story continues below advertisement “It’s so much more than that. It’s mind-set. It’s approach. It’s the total package. But I understand that in our business, so much of it is focused on the wins and losses, especially in the playoffs, Super Bowl rings and all that stuff. I understand that’s part of my legacy I’ll be judged on when I’m done playing. Every year is important when it comes to furthering your legacy, but I take a lot of pride in the success that we’ve had and that I’ve had, and I hope we can add to it — both from a how-we’re-judged standpoint and how-we-judge-ourselves standpoint.’’ There’s just one more thing Rodgers can do, one thing that would be the ultimate act of defiance in a season full of shocking moments from him: blend. The Packers don’t need him to be more spectacular. They need him to be with them, willing to do whatever it takes to break through, even if it frustrates him and goes against his preferences. Rodgers has some front-runner in him. It’s not because he’s a poor competitor. It’s the result of his constant distrust of others. The playoffs tend to identify a team’s fissures. In recent years, Green Bay has been both unlucky and disjointed at the worst possible times. The Packers should be better for the struggles, and if so, their MVP quarterback must reflect all that they have learned. To do that, he must show he has learned something as well. This isn’t just a last dance. It’s the ultimate challenge, too. Rodgers can unify and inspire, or he can shrug one final time on his way out the door. What to read about the NFL playoffs