Even if one attempts to block out all the Aaron Rodgers noise, it’s a near-impossible task, especially after he just won his fourth NFL MVP award. Only Peyton Manning has more league MVP awards than Rodgers (five).
No matter what he does, Rodgers always manages to stay in the spotlight, even if he cultivates his detached and aloof persona at times. Given his uncertain future playing status, every time the Green Bay Packers icon opens his mouth, media and fans alike rush to interpret what it might hint at for the future of his phenomenal career.
In the aftermath of collecting yet another MVP accolade, Rodgers’ recent remarks revealed a more reflective Rodgers, a man who might just be ready to walk away from the game at the top, rather than redoubling his efforts to return — with Green Bay or via a trade to the Denver Broncos to continue his relationship with Nathaniel Hackett.
“I think you’ve got to take some of the emotion out of it and then kind of lean into understanding what it takes to revamp and feeling like what’s the best place, the best decision for me moving forward—not really place, more of just what does it feel like to commit to a season if that’s what I want to do,” Rodgers said via the Washington Post’s Nicki Jhabvala. “The good thing is, I still feel like my body is in a good place.”
Rodgers sounds more like a man going through some internal rumination which might see him hang up his cleats for good. That being said, he’s adjusting to the reality of teams like the Broncos swooping in and taking his most trusted coaching confidantes away from him.
It’s going to take time for Rodgers to wrap his head around the fact that Hackett won’t be in Green Bay should he opt to return. “It’s bittersweet losing Nathaniel just because I love him like a brother,” Rodgers said. “He’s an amazing, amazing guy.”
Having built up such deep emotional bonds with his former offensive coordinator of three years, it might even be easier for Rodgers to follow his friend to Denver, rather than deal with the ghosts that he might encounter in Green Bay, especially since another of his go-to guys in Luke Getsy has also moved on (to Chicago as offensive coordinator).
“Going to miss those guys though,” Rodgers said. “This business is about people, and just thinking about who’s going to be in that room, who would be in that room if I were to come back, there’s some sadness definitely.”
While most postseason speculation has revolved around a potential Rodgers trade, it would be much less of a shock if he did indeed retire. Once he gets through his own period of soul-searching, the fierce, competitive animal within Rodgers might take over and lead him back to the game he loves.
Taking stock of one’s career at soon-to-be 39 years old is a healthy endeavor, but extinguishing the competitive fires completely doesn’t quite feel right somehow, as Rodgers alluded to himself.
“I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished, proud that I’ve accomplished it in Green Bay over the last 17 years and [am] excited about the future, whatever that ends up being or looking like,” Rodgers said. “Also still highly competitive and still that bitter taste from the divisional game. So, definitely a lot to weigh.”