The Green Bay Packers earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC after a 13-4 season. However, they were one-and-done after losing to the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs. ESPN analyst Stephen A Smith has long been a fan of Aaron Rodgers but says he’s not defending him anymore.
The sports media personality blasted the Packers signal-caller for his lackluster performance on the big stage.
Stephen A. Smith rips Aaron Rodgers after early playoff exit
Kudos to the San Francisco 49ers. They came to play and deserved to win the football game. Still, people can’t help but wonder what went wrong for the Green Bay Packers. As the team’s unquestioned leader, Aaron Rodgers’ name has been front and center for the blame game.
Stephen A Smith affectionately calls Rodgers a “bad man.” He didn’t like what he saw from the Packers quarterback in the playoffs, though. The ESPN analyst went so far as to strip No. 12 of the nickname on First Take.
“This was the worst loss of Aaron Rodgers’ career,” Smith said. “The ‘bad man’ no longer applies. It’s just one game in a lot of people’s eyes but not mine. When he beat Chicago this year, he said, ‘I own you.’ He forgot to mention who he’s owned by, and that’s the San Francisco 49ers in the postseason.”
Smith wouldn’t accept any excuses for the 10-time Pro Bowler’s mediocre showing.
“I don’t give a damn what the weather conditions were,” he added. “You can’t lose that game. You’re Aaron Rodgers, and you’re with Matt LaFleur. And you can’t score more than 10 points at Lambeau Field? He could be handed the MVP trophy, and nobody gives a damn. You’re the man who came up flagrantly short.”
Does the loss hurt the Packers QB’s legacy?
As Stephen A Smith mentioned, it doesn’t matter what the Green Bay Packers did in the regular season. They’ll be watching the remainder of the playoffs at home like everyone else. That’s not a good look for Aaron Rodgers.
The San Francisco 49ers have been Rodgers’ kryptonite in the playoffs. With the Divisional Round loss, the Packers move to 0-4 against the Niners with him under center.
The 38-year-old Chico, California, native is one of the greatest quarterback talents the game has ever seen. That is undeniable. But that’s even more reason to expect better from Rodgers.
The three-time MVP completed 20 of 29 pass attempts for 225 yards and zero touchdowns. Sure, it was cold and snowy, but it’s Green Bay. That’s what this team has grown accustomed to. The 49ers don’t get that type of weather in San Francisco.
As talented as Rodgers is, he doesn’t have much to show for it outside of individual accolades. The former California Golden Bears standout led Green Bay to a victory in Super Bowl XLV. However, that was more than a decade ago. He hasn’t been back since.
So does this loss hurt Aaron Rodgers’ legacy? Yes, it does. The NFL is a quarterback-driven league, and he doesn’t deserve a pass because of his name or how good he was in the regular season.
Rodgers’ roller-coaster season could lead to change of scenery
With the Green Bay Packers’ season officially over, it’s time to start thinking about the 2022 offseason, which will be pivotal for the franchise.
Aaron Rodgers has dedicated his entire 17-year NFL career to the Packers organization. Still, it’s unclear if he will be playing in Green Bay in 2022 and beyond. It’s been a tumultuous past few years for the star quarterback.
Rodgers has previously felt undervalued by the Packers’ front office. The drama trickled into the 2021 season, and it even got to a point at which no one knew if he’d show up to training camp. The four-time All-Pro joined the team, but there was speculation all season it would be his last in Green Bay.
The longtime Packers quarterback was one of the biggest NFL storylines all season long. From his spat with the Bears to his exclusives on The Pat McAfee Show to the controversy over his vaccination status, he was the talk of the town.
With all that transpired, could a change of scenery be coming?
Green Bay built a team that could compete with anyone on both sides of the ball (unfortunately, not on special teams). If the Packers run it back, they should be right back in contention. However, Aaron Rodgers might not want to be back. Winning heals all wounds, but what does losing do?
Rodgers’ status is murky at best, setting up another dramatic offseason.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.