This season, Rodgers has received criticism as though he’s on the downslope of his NFL career. According to one analyst, this is just feeding the beast.
Aaron Rodgers’ 2019 season
Leading the Packers to a 13-3 record this season, Rodgers threw 26 touchdowns to only four interceptions. He also had 4,002 passing yards. But in analyzing Rodgers’ performance, some thought he’d lost a step. The Athletic said, Rodgers was “no longer elite.” Five Thirty Eight asked, “Are we sure Aaron Rodgers is still an elite quarterback?”
It’s the latest in a long line of questions Rodgers has heard throughout his career, beginning with the day it began in 2005.
Rodgers’ path to the NFL
Rodgers grew up in Northern California and played college football at the University of California. Coming out of college, he was one of the top pro prospects at the quarterback position. Looking back, it’s easy to say any team would’ve selected Rodgers in the 2005 NFL Draft knowing what they know now.
At the time, however, Rodgers was a victim of circumstance. He and Alex Smith were considered the best quarterback prospects that year. It was on one team, the San Francisco 49ers, to choose between the two. Obviously, San Francisco chose Smith.
Rodgers spent the next several hours in freefall; he was the last person seated in the NFL Draft green room. Eventually, the Green Bay Packers mercifully took Rodgers despite having a quarterback, Brett Favre.
Rodgers has spent his entire career making all the teams who passed on him (most of the league) look foolish. Smith has had a fine career — he led San Francisco to the playoffs and had several playoff appearances in Kansas City — but his resume pales in comparison to Rodgers’ Hall of Fame-worthy career.
Pat McAfee’s comments about how Rodgers “runs off of spite”
Rodgers and the Packers have had their fair share of criticism this season, despite advancing this far. According to NFL analyst and former Colts’ punter Pat McAfee, Rodgers remembers the criticism and uses it to fuel his performance:
“Aaron Rodgers is a guy that runs off of spite,” McAfee said on ESPN. He’s a guy that has chips on his shoulder. He’s a guy who listens to what people say. There’s been a lot of bad said about Aaron Rodgers this year … Everyone knew that when playoff time showed up, the handsome guy who does yoga with Danica Patrick is going to deliver the rock.”
Rodgers has had many doubters this season, questioning whether he’s still an elite quarterback. He lost a game to the 49ers earlier this year and likely wants to prove those critics wrong. He also has extra motivation against San Francisco, who criticized his NFL career when they passed on him.
Rodgers thought he’d be drafted by the 49ers. The Niners failing to choose him led to the QB being humiliated in the green room for hours.
Though Rodgers has had a successful career, he’s closer to the end of it than the beginning. A playoff triumph in the NFC championship game would be a terrific way for him to get revenge on the team that passed him up in 2005. It would also help him get a shot at another Super Bowl.
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