Aaron Rodgers took time out of his offseason schedule this week to bash a fan who had ripped his use of hard counts. While the criticism was silly, it was nice to know that Rodgers has such pressing matters on his mind. Rodgers will turn 33 in December and the clock is ticking on his push to be a multi-Super Bowl winner.
Green Bay fans have seen this movie before. Brett Favre started his Hall of Fame career in Green Bay in 1992 and played there through 2007. The Packers, after winning the Super Bowl in 1996 appeared to have more ahead of them. But they didn’t. Rodgers took over in 2008 and by 2010 the franchise had another ring. There appeared to be more ahead of them, especially when they won the first 13 games of 2011.
That season ended in bitter disappointment though and since then the Packers have spent their Januarys getting ousted by the NFC West—San Francisco in 2012 and 2013, Seattle in 2014 and Arizona in 2015.
It all brings up a question and it’s this—would Rodgers’ time in Green Bay be a disappointment if they fail to win a second Super Bowl? It’s a question that has obvious subtext and it’s whether Favre’s run in Lambeau was a disappointment for that same reason.
How you answer goes right to the heart of the question of just how important the quarterback is to a team’s ultimate success. If you hold the QB accountable for wins and losses then the inability of the Packers to turn the Rodgers era into at least two Super Bowl rings would have to count as a significant failure. But I think football is just too complex for that.
“The most important position in sports” is how an NFL quarterback is often described. But why? How is a quarterback—one of 22 players on the field at a given time more important than the best player on a basketball team, who is one of 10 players and can impact the game on both offense and defense. The best player on the floor tends to win more often than not in hoops. Not so in football, where the game is much more nuanced. It’s reasonable to measure LeBron James by rings. Less so with Aaron Rodgers.
Having said that, an elite quarterback does tend to assure teams of at least getting to the playoffs and more often than not to the round of eight. That leaves three games to win. If a team goes through an entire career and only gets those three wins one time, that is a little disappointing. I would put it at the feet of the organization as a whole more than the quarterback, but it is a letdown. Not a failure—that’s too harsh—but a disappointment.
That answers the question about Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre individually, but when you combine the two for Packer fans, the disappointment becomes deeper. Green Bay will have about thirty years being quarterbacked by great quarterbacks. Favre is already in the Hall of Fame and Rodgers is almost certainly headed there. To get as many Super Bowl wins combined in that time period as the New York Giants got with Eli Manning can’t be seen as a good thing.
Rodgers still has at least five good years ahead of him, maybe more with the way the game continually changes to protect its quarterbacks. It’s hardly unthinkable that Green Bay could win two of the next three Super Bowls, become a dynasty and change this whole conversation entirely. But the quarterback is no spring chicken anymore and he has bigger things to focus on then whether some random fan approves of hard counts.