One of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history is officially another year older. Happy birthday, Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers truly is one of the all-time greats. And the latest anniversary of the day he arrived caps one of the most eventful years of his professional career. He won the NFL’s MVP award for 2020. His team came dangerously close to getting to the Super Bowl, nearly erasing an 18-point second-half deficit.
After the game, he made waves by waxing about his uncertain future with the team, before chiding the media for overreacting to the things he said. Then, on the first day of the draft and after a heralded two-week stint as a Jeopardy! co-host, it came to light that the 49ers tried to trade for him — and that he wanted the trade to happen. This sparked weeks of mystery and confusion regarding whether he’d hold out or retire or push again for a trade.
The uncertainty continued up until the weekend before training camp, when the sports books got freaked out by the possibility that Rodgers would indeed retire. And then he showed up, admitting that it was a 50-50 proposition in the days before he showed up.
He entertained the media and the masses by airing out dirty laundry against the organization in his first press conference of training camp. Roughly a month later, he told a bearded-faced lie regarding his vaccination status, so that he could be unvaccinated but act like he is.
Next came a disastrous Week One showing against the Saints in Jacksonville, sparking questions as to whether Rodgers’s antics had distracted him and the team. Then, the Packers caught fire, getting hot and staying hot until they managed a Thursday night upset of the Cardinals. Six days later, a bolt from the blue placed Rodgers on the COVID list, scrapping what would have been the first ever meeting between Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes.
Things got even more interesting after that, with the news that Rodgers was secretly unvaccinated. A much-criticized radio diatribe regarding his reasons for not being vaccinated, along with a juvenile attempt to claim he hadn’t lied about his status, reportedly left him rattled. He missed a key game that the Packers likely would have won if he’d played.
When he returned from the COVID list, the team disclosed that he has a toe injury. That became the next chapter in his strangest of NFL years, with Rodgers talking about the injury extensively, joking that he has COVID toe — and insisting that (despite his intense and extensive research on COVID) he didn’t know COVID toe is a real condition.
Through it all, he’s having another MVP-caliber season. And if the Packers secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC, he’ll likely win it again. Maybe he’ll even finally get back to the Super Bowl, for the first time in 11 years.
Two years short of 40, it remains to be seen how much longer he’ll play. It’s been assumed that he’ll be gone from the Packers after this season. Perhaps that will change, especially if they qualify for the NFL championship game.
Whatever happens over the next year in the life of Aaron Rodgers, it’s hard to imagine it matching the one that was just concluded. He has become one of the most prominent figures in all of sports, and he also has become incredibly polarizing. That could resonate well beyond his playing days, and it could shape in many ways his post-football career prospects, for good or for bad.
Either way, enjoy your cake and your Scotch and/or tequila. For your achievements on the playing field, you deserve it. For your self-inflicted wounds away from the gridiron, you quite possibly need it.