Aaron Rodgers is 37 and his 38th birthdays will come before he ends another full season in the NFL. He has seen what happens to other quarterbacks in this age bracket, even at a time when post protections have allowed players like Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees to continue to function as productive players.
So while there is a better chance for him to reach the Super Bowl with the Packers, beyond Sunday’s NFC Championship game against the Buccaneers, there won’t be much more. Whether that number is closer to one or closer to five, however, what matters most is which one is at hand.
He’s been the Pack’s starting quarterback for 13 seasons. Nine of those seasons ended in the Pro Bowl. Only one ended in the Super Bowl. If that doesn’t get a second, Rodgers will likely end his career in the neighborhood Peyton Manning refused to walk to.
His legacy will not be that of Fran Tarkenton, who set so many passing records in the 1970s but lost in each of his three Super Bowl appearances. It won’t be Dan Marino, who only made it in his second year with the Dolphins but couldn’t beat a top 49ers team and never returned. Without another Championship, however, and with a skill set that many have described as the best in gaming history, Rodgers will not reach the level of Manning or John Elway, all-time greats who have led. their teams at several championships.
This game will say a lot about how Rodgers’ career is remembered.
His bronze bust will be in Canton five years and five seconds after his retirement. It’s not about that. This is just about nobody having a “yeah, but” when the debate over the greatest quarters in history is visited and someone introduces the Rodgers name. This is the fifth time the Rodgers Packers have reached the NFC championship, and they have lost the last three by a total of 46 points.
The Packers have allowed an average of 36.3 points in those games, so those results aren’t entirely on Rodgers. But he threw five combined interceptions, averaged 264 passing yards, and never hit a 100 quarterback rating. Which means he’s not faultless either.
Rodgers said he felt “no more pressure than usual” in this circumstance. When a team reaches this stage, it should be true. Only two groups of NFC players have the chance to reach the sport’s biggest stage, and only one on either side, Tom Brady, can say traveling this far is routine.
“Obviously I’m putting the pressure on myself to perform every week, and I think there’s a lot to be said about being able to get over that pressure and that fear of failure and focus on a real positive,” Rodgers said. to journalists on Wednesday. “It’s something you learn over the years.”
When Rodgers said, “My future is a beautiful mystery,” he was covering a lot of ground: whether the team’s decision to write Jordan Love last spring will shorten his time at Green Bay, whether there will be more success in it. team there or elsewhere, if there are a lot more seasons for him in the NFL or just a few.
This game means more than usual because it has so rarely conquered this stage. It means more because the Packers’ regular season success in 2020 dictated that the game be played, for the first time with Rodgers as a quarterback, in Green Bay. And that means more because Brady, who took part in 14 of them, will line up on the opposite side.
To conquer it and bring Green Bay back to the Super Bowl for the first time in over a decade, end the conference championship losing streak and do it all in Lambeau – Rodgers spoke at length in his session of living in the present , and that moment is here.
Success will make the Super Bowl look and replace so many of the less pleasant moments of his career. That’s not to say that there is more pressure inherent in this game. But it contains more consequences.