Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood

ESPN reporter: "Have you heard from Brett Favre?"
Aaron Rodgers: "No I haven't."
ESPN reporter: "Do you expect to hear from Brett Favre?"
Aaron Rodgers: "No I don't."

AP Photos
And so it continues. Even the day after Aaron "Superman" Rodgers leads the Green Bay Packers to the promised land he still has to hear the nagging Brett Favre questions.

Is it me or this whole "Rodgers is playing in Favre's shadow" soap opera just a figment of our imagination because it makes for juicy gossip?

Let's break it down to it's simplicity in a quick nutshell:

1. Rodgers was drafted by the Packers in 2005 with the 24th overall pick. Favre was still the starter so common sense tells us that the rookie Rodgers will be his understudy and he'll spend most of his time holding a clipboard.

2. During Rodgers' rookie year Favre took 99% of the snaps and Rodgers fulfilled his rookie duties-- just sit back and be prepared in case we need you.

3. By this point, we were already getting our first whiffs of the "Brett is thinking of retiring" roller coaster and the kid Rodgers will be his heir apparent.

4. In the next two years the "Brett retiring" thing becomes a circus created 100% by the aging Brett himself. The Packers know they are not going to get 10 more years out of Brett so they come to the decision that it's time to move on and begin a new era with the kid Rodgers. A stubborn and selfish Brett refuses to let them do that and puts them between a rock and a hard place. Do they risk upsetting their fans by cutting loose their god-like hero? Finally the Packers work out a deal with the disgruntled future Hall of Famer and trade him to the AFC's New York Jets. They start to move forward with a kid that can lead them for the next decade.

Ok--

So now the kid is portrayed as playing in the shadows of the departed immortal as if all this was his fault. At last check, he was drafted by the Packers and was under contract by the Packers. Sooner or later Brett was going to hang it up and someone had to replace him. Or should a team retire the position when an immortal retires or walks away?

If I'm not mistaken, Favre isn't the first and he certainly won't be the last Hall of Fame quarterback to walk away from the team they took to glory. And if I'm not mistaken, no team has ever retired the quarterback position in honor of the departed great. So why do the Aaron Rodgers of the world have to hear all this bs about playing in their shadows? At the end of the day, somebody has to fill the void. Right?

Oh I get it. This "shadow" thing is a combination of a few factors. First, the departing great has to be a future Hall of Famer who's been the leader of the team for a LONG time. Second, the departed must have won at least 1 Super Bowl with his team. Thirdly, the replacement must be a young stud who has the potential of building his own immortality and Hall of Fame career. And finally, there has to be some drama in the departure of the Hall of Famer and the one waiting in the wings bares some of the blame because his potential greatness makes it easier for the team to let the immortal go.

Got it! It's a punishment for having the potential to be great and even as great as the person you're replacing.

I even have a name for it, "The Steve Young Syndrome".

So that's why Brian Griese didn't hear all this "shadow" garbage when he replaced the immortal John Elway. Griese got the gig because he was simply the better of two evils and he was only expected to hold the fort until the Broncos found the next Elway. Since greatness wasn't expected from Griese and Elway retired gracefully, the "shadow" thing didn't manifest itself.

As for Dan Marino and Warren Moon's replacements, they didn't hear all this jazz because "them dudes" never won a ring. Forget their replacements, Marino and Moon got their own "no-ring" shadows which is a juicier story.

AP Photos
But Steve Young? Yes, he's the original Aaron Rodgers. And why? Because he was good. He was damn good. And he was replacing a disgruntled future Hall of Famer with 4 Super Bowl rings. So of course, Young had to play at a Joe Montana-level or always be remembered as a bust. How dare he be so good that the 49ers didn't hesitate to run immortal-Joe out of town? Now Young is playing under a shadow and has to prove himself.

And how dare you, Aaron Rodgers, be so good that you were the (direct or indirect reason) why Brett wasn't able to have the Packers as puppets or in Joe's case, the 49ers as puppets. Like the old adage says, "three's a crowd". So the notion is-- for being so good, Aaron, the "Brett's shadow" thing has to follow you around until you do something great.

Anyway, at last check, Steve Young won a Super Bowl with the 49ers and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Aaron Rodgers has now won a Super Bowl with the Packers and if his health permits, he too, will someday be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

So this notion that potential immortals have to play in the shadows of departing immortals is all a bunch of hogwash and only circulates because the media has a never ending thirst for gossip. End of story.

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