The mood around 1265 Lombardi Avenue right now probably runs a full gamut of emotions.
Relief. Sadness. Excitement. Anticipation. You name it, someone in the building probably has felt it. Yet one feeling really should summarize how the Green Bay Packers are feeling ahead of the NFL Draft after they just sent Aaron Rodgers to New York: liberated.
No longer are the Packers held hostage to the whims of the quarterback they all but handed control of the franchise over to. No longer do they have to hold their breaths when Rodgers would appear on The Pat McAfee Show and say something so out of left field that members of the team would shrink into their seats. No longer are they subject to thinly veiled and passive aggressive comments from a 4-time MVP.
They are at last free from having to pacify their quarterback. They can focus on one thing and one thing only: football.
It became clear the Packers grew weary of Rodgers’ act the last few years. They went from begging him to come back in the summer of 2021 to all but being done with him in 2023.
Rodgers famously aired his grievances at his first press conference during camp just under two years ago and the Packers stayed silent. They let Rodgers control the narrative and the quarterback’s words ran wild with nary a consequence from the team.
Until this year.
It’s unclear when or what the breaking point was, but after an 8-9 season with a mediocre performance from the quarterback for whom the Packers just backed up the Brinks truck, the team had enough. General manager Brian Gutekunst seized control of the franchise back from his quarterback and Green Bay will be better off for it, even if the short-term result is painful.
Jordan Love’s presence will be at least a breath of fresh air. As the Rodgers storms have swirled around the franchise like a hurricane of misinformation and delusion, Love kept his head down and worked on his craft. He’s even been seen working out with teammates this off-season away from Green Bay to get timing down. It was a sight not seen by fans in years from the team’s starting quarterback.
Maybe such effort by Rodgers last year would have helped the rookies a bit. Alas, that is all in the past.
By all accounts, Love handled the chaos with class. It’s eerily similar to how Rodgers handled the Brett Favre saga in 2008. Time, they say, is a flat circle. But unlike with the Favre situation, you won’t find the fan base split 50/50 on what they think the team should do. Find any poll on any reputable website and you’ll find a lopsided result saying it was time to turn the page. Social media reaction has been much the same.
The fans were tired of it and the team was tired of it.
Perhaps Rodgers thought the team would kowtow to him all the way into retirement and fans would worship every square inch of ground he walked on. Perhaps he thought he was in control the rest of the way.
He was not. Gutekunst took control of the team back and made the decision to move on to Love, much like Ted Thompson’s decision 15 years earlier. The Packers were tired of the act and felt Jordan Love was ready to play. Now the Rodgers circus heads east and the Packers can get back to football.
It’s the dawning of a new era in Green Bay, yet it feels like a return to normalcy. The general manager, not the quarterback, is calling the shots once again.
Congratulations on your self-liberation, Packers. Now it’s time to go to work.