We are only a few hours away from the biggest football game of the season. Living in Wisconsin, the mood is high and the Facebook comments of “Go Pack” are more than evident. We are all behind our team, but more important, we are all behind our team leader – Aaron Rodgers.
That wasn’t always the case.
Let’s flash back about 5 1/2 years ago. NFL draft. Aaron, who just came out of the University of California, was expected to take the number one spot in the draft. The 49ers had first pick that year and the Packers were 24th.
San Fransisco didn’t want their college brother. They decided to go with Alex Smith. Not a bad choice, but it was really confusing. Later we found out that Smith was picked because then coach Mike Nolan didn’t think Rodgers would fit with the team.
Too bad for the 49ers.
Still, Rodgers was a good pick. Only problem is nobody really needed a quarterback that year. In all reality, the Green Bay Packers didn’t need Rodgers, either. We had Brett Favre. Yet, come the Packers pick – 24th overall pick – Ted Thompson and Mike Sherman picked Aaron Rodgers.
And we all sat there wondering why.
We had a quarterback – A good one, at that. We didn’t really need another one. We needed a defense at the time. We needed a good Running back. Almost every postition but Quarterback was needed.
Still, we sat in puzzlement and watched as the young QB from California was selected. We then picked up Safety Nick Collins and Wide Receivers Jerome Matthis and Terrance Murphy (overlooking Marion Barber, BTW). Finally, Brady Poppinga was selected and we started to feel a little better on the picks.
Question: What were your thoughts when the Packers picked Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 Draft?
It was a tough season for this kid. Being in the shadow of Brett Favre – the Quarterback who wouldn’t die – had to have been both an honor and a curse. Yet Rodgers continued on and stayed the backup QB to the historic franchise. He did get up to $24 million for doing that, though.
When he did get a chance to play, we saw something different. I remember two instances he got the opportunity to lead the team, it turned bad, as he was hurt in those games. The second time was his foot, which really put the Pack in a questionable position, since we really didn’t have a good 3rd string QB and Brett was experiencing injuries of his own. That was the first time Favre was questioning retirement (which he ended up not taking, but making us wait for months to announce).
Changing of the Guard
When Rodgers took over the 2008 season, it was shrouded in controversy. Brett tried to come back real late in the game, but was told that the team was centered around their new head QB – Aaron Rodgers. Favre could come back as a back-up, but the fight ensued and he was traded to the New York Jets.
That had to have been a great boost of confidence for young Rodgers. He basically ousted the King of the hill. Now he had to prove he was the new King.
And that, he did.
We still had our doubts. When he sprained his shoulder, the mood was that Rodgers was going to be one of those injury prone Quarterbacks. But he wasn’t. All of a sudden, things started to change and we really saw the QB in him.
Let’s take a step back for a second to make a clarification: Although as Packer fans we doubted a bit about his longevity, we did know that Rodgers was one hell of a Quarterback. We knew that he had a better arm than Brett Favre and threw smarter, which resulted in less interceptions. He could also run the ball and knew how to scramble – and even get first downs himself – if needed.
Now – Jump to 2009 season. The QB with a $65 million deal to 2014 was really starting to play. He was a Pro Bowler that year, behind Brett Favre and Drew Brees. Yet, Brees was in the Superbowl, so he bowed out and Favre was injured, so he bowed out. That made Rodgers the starting QB for the NFC. Not a great way to do it, but it is what it is.
Then came the 2010 season. An amazing one at that. The Packers were expected to be in the Superbowl this year. Last time that expectation was pronounced, we did go – and won – the Superbowl.
However, the first part of the 2010 season was not promising. Loosing key players and losing games started to dash the hopes of the fans. Come the bye-week, we were pretty much written off.
But something happened. It’s like a spring flower that finds it’s way through the snowbank to bloom. That is what the Packers did. Bloomed.
With Aaron Rodgers at the helm, we were a team that couldn’t be stopped in the second half of the season. The comeback kids.
Then, another setback as Rodgers got a concussion. Out for the game. But in steps another talented QB in Matt Flynn. Although he didn’t win the game, we felt a vote of confidence that didn’t rail us from the idea we could still make it.
By the next week, Rodgers was back and we, as a group of fans, were hoping and praying. Crossing our fingers that we still had a chance…
The Dream approaches
So now we are here after all odds have knocked us out. It’s a long way from 2005 when we were sitting there scratching our heads to a Quarterback choice. Now, hours before the game – 5 years later – we can see clearly why Aaron Rodgers was picked.
So whatever happens at Superbowl XLV, we know many people have really helped us get there. Ted Thompson and Mike Sherman, Alex Smith (who helped in the mathematics for us to play the Seahawks in the Playoffs), to Nick Collins and Brad Poppinga, who are still on this Superbowl team. Thanks even to Brett Favre who tried to keep our new star Quarterback down. When we took the two wins from the Vikings this year, that is when Packer fans knew it was time for the new era.
So with that, I say “Go Pack, Go!” The game is expected to be one of the best Superbowls ever. We will know the answer very soon.
But more important, thank you Aaron Rodgers, for sticking with a team that put you on the back burner for so long. When you had your chance to shine, you became the brightest star out there.