Green Bay, WI

Stop Saying the Packers Have "Wasted" Aaron Rodgers

Walter Rhein

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There is nothing more irritating than watching Tom Brady win a Super Bowl. For some reason, the deflated ball always seems to bounce his way. Whether it’s the referees manufacturing a rule to somehow turn a clear fumble into an incomplete pass, or a decade of home field advantage due to playing in the worst division in football, Brady always seems to have success served up on a silver platter.

As a Packer fan, it’s hard to watch the brilliance of Aaron Rodgers and not feel that every time Brady hoists the Lombardi trophy we’ve had something stolen that was rightfully ours.

But the simple fact is that Brady has seven championships and Rodgers only has one.

One response to this travesty is that it has Green Bay fans screaming, “The Packers are wasting Aaron Rodgers.”

I’d like to see Rodgers win more Super Bowls as much as anyone, but let’s make one thing clear, the Packers are not “wasting” their star player.

Rodgers has had plenty of chances to get to another Super Bowl. He just hasn’t delivered.

In 2020, everything was aligned for Rodgers to make his second Super Bowl appearance. The Packers were the number one seed in the playoffs. They had a first round bye and home field advantage. But instead of advancing to the big game, they lost the NFC Championship.

That’s not “wasting” a hall of fame quarterback.

ESPN.com’s Mike Clay recently rated the Packers’ roster as the best in the NFL. How can fans of the team blame management for “wasting” a quarterback when they surround him with the best roster in the league?

Aaron Rodgers is 1-4 in the NFC Championship game. He’s 1-5 if you count the 2007 match-up against the Giants where Rodgers was the backup to Brett Favre. They lost to Tampa Bay in 2020, San Francisco in 2019, Atlanta in 2016, and Seattle in 2014.

The Packers were overmatched against San Francisco, and decimated by injuries against Atlanta, but the other two contests were games they should have won.

The simple fact is that Rodgers has had 6 very good opportunities to get to the Super Bowl. There’s not a quarterback in NFL history that wouldn’t be satisfied with that track record.

Some might argue that the only reason these teams advanced as far as they did was because of the play of the quarterback. There is merit to that argument. But at the same time, before people start saying the team has “wasted” the player, it has to be acknowledged that Green Bay had the best roster in the league on more than one occasion.

They arguably had the best roster in 2011 when they went 15-1 to secure a first round bye and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. That year they lost to the eventual champion New York Giants in the Divisional round of the playoffs.

It’s time to put to bed the narrative that the Packers have “wasted” Aaron Rodgers. Two quarterbacks that were wasted by the franchise that drafted them are Matthew Stafford and Phillip Rivers. Their combined record in the playoffs is 3-7 with Stafford contributing zero wins to that total.

Nobody says that the Colts wasted Peyton Manning or that the Saints wasted Drew Brees. Brees only won one Super Bowl. Manning won his second Super Bowl with Denver, but he only won one with Indianpolis. Manning was 9-10 with the Colts in the playoffs. Brees was 9-8 in the playoffs with the Saints.

In comparison, Rodgers is 11-8 in the playoffs. Of those 8 losses, 3 of them came in overtime. Those include the loss to Arizona in the 2009 Wildcard round, the loss to Seattle in the 2014 NFC Championship, and the loss to Arizona in the 2015 Divisional round.

Aaron Rodgers has a statistically bizarre 2-8-1 record in overtime. NFL overtime is essentially a coin flip, and if Rodgers had won even half of those games, it’s likely the narrative about how he’s been wasted would never have come into existence.

As it stands, fans of the Green Bay Packers are doing the team a disservice when they say that management has wasted Aaron Rodgers. The NFL is a high pressure environment, and the propagation of misinformation can only contribute to poor decision making.

The simple fact is that the Packers have repeatedly surrounded Aaron Rodgers with championship caliber teams. Along the way, fluke injuries to players like Nick Collins, Jordy Nelson, David Bakhtiari and even Rodgers himself have derailed championship opportunities.

The Packers aren’t going to get five offensive pass interference calls in their favor in the first quarter of the NFC Championship game. That kind of thing only happens to Tom Brady. It’s unfortunate, but that’s just something Rodgers has to overcome. But Rodgers hasn’t been “wasted.” Green Bay management has consistently provided their star player with an opportunity. In the end, it’s up to Rodgers to transform those opportunities into championships.

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Walter Rhein is an author with Perseid Press. He also does a weekly column for The Writing Cooperative on Medium.

Chippewa Falls, WI
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