As Aaron Rodgers stood in the north end zone and saluted the fans, as his teammates waved goodbye to the Soldier Field crowd, I didn’t feel anger or rage. I felt a twinge of sadness and disappointment, maybe. But I sure as hell didn’t feel any nostalgia or a need for more.
On Friday, as the Chicago Bears prepared to host the Green Bay Packers, a new narrative began to populate Chicago Bears media.
This idea that, as it very well could be the last time Aaron Rodgers faces the Bears in Chicago, that Bears fans should savor it and soak it all in. For the purpose of “you’ll miss Rodgers when he’s gone.”
First, we had Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times penning a column that asks fans to be “wise and take a long look at him Sunday.”
Bears fans wouldn’t be sorry to see him go, but it would be a shame.
Sports are better when athletes embody greatness, and Rodgers has done that. He is 24-5 against the Bears as a starter and 11-3 at Soldier Field. When he told Bears fans he owned them last year, he wasn’t wrong.
And then there was the Take The North podcast with David Haugh and Dan Wiederer, ramping the Finley take from “it would be a shame” straight to “you’ll miss him when he’s gone.”
Bears fans are going to miss Aaron Rodgers when he's gone?? That's what @DavidHaugh & @danwiederer think, at least...— Take The North (@TakeTheNorthPod) December 2, 2022
Listen to them explain why in our latest episode, available on the @Audacy and wherever you get your pods:https://t.co/6mAeDZgs9m pic.twitter.com/pYc6ba772H
Nah, not me. Not this writer.
I can agree that sports are better with villains and that Rodgers is an all-time great quarterback. To me, those aren’t part of this argument.
And let’s also acknowledge that he very likely could be back next year. He has almost 60 million guaranteed reasons to play in the NFL next season. This may not actually be his last visit to Soldier Field.
Rodgers isn’t a fun villain though. He’s the worst kind of villain.
Aaron Rodgers is statistically a fantastic quarterback, who is a slam-dunk first-ballot Hall of Famer. I can’t dispute that. We can question how many Super Bowls he’s won, but in general, fans can agree that the ones lost aren’t 100 percent on the quarterback.
But Rodgers isn’t a fun enemy.
Look at Rodgers’ predecessor, Brett Favre. Favre played with a fun-loving streak, he played the game with a joy of a kid and was never above taking a shot at himself. He also had baffling interceptions that led to epic meltdowns for his teams on occasion.
Now, I need to emphasize I’m talking about Favre, the player. Favre, the person is a horrible, immoral man who has harassed women and was very directly involved with large-scale welfare fraud.
But Rodgers, the player, is void of any of the redeeming qualities of great sports villains.
Aaron Rodgers is Michael Jordan without any of Jordan’s charisma. Jordan would go cold-blooded killer, put up 50, drop a big three, whatever it was and give a shrug and a smile or a wink, which made it kind of OK.
Rodgers will tell you he’s better than you, smarter than you, point back to it and then make you tell him again.
He is a pretentious and haughty troll who carries himself as a smug, holier-than-thou person who is doing everyone else a favor by showing up.
He’s Peyton Manning without the self-depreciation and everyman body.
He and Tom Brady embody everything that makes a great ‘80s movie bully villain. Brady, at least, has shown some personality and humor from time to time on Twitter.
Rodgers has scorned former teammates and seems to have alienated some inside his own locker room at times. I would venture to say that he’s never been ingratiated with many Wisconsinite fans.
Of course, they’re glad he plays for their team, but I don’t think they feel like they can relate much to a guy from California taking psychedelics and reading conspiracy theories.
Even Sunday, as the Packers pulled away for yet another win over the Bears, it wasn’t like Rodgers was a huge difference. Justin Fields statistically outplayed him until two late interceptions.
That 18 of 31, for 182 yards and one touchdown is hardly going to be remembered when you look at the video game-like stats he had in his prime. He played well enough to win, for sure, but he hardly was the difference as A.J. Dillon bowled over the Bears’ defense, and Christian Watson showed his speed and agility.
Rodgers said after, “There were probably a lot of people who felt good when it was 19-10 Bears in the fourth quarter. So did I.”
No, I don’t think there were any Bears fans who felt good at that point. Chicago has seen it too many times. It’s just more Rodgers being Rodgers. Has to get his little potshot in.
Unless you were rooting for the team up north, there is no fun in watching Rodgers compete.
In “The Last Dance,” Michael Jordan talks about his reputation as a “tyrant” and a difficult teammate. He says, “If you asked all my teammates, one thing about Michael Jordan was ‘he never asked me to do something that he didn’t f—-in’ do.’”
Do you get that impression about Aaron Rodgers?
Rodgers was easy to root against. As great as he has been. But I won’t miss rooting against him. Not at all.