The final gun on Super Bowl XLV ushered in a new era for football for the Green Bay Packers. Yes, as much as it pains me to admit it, Aaron Rodgers’ win in Dallas Sunday night established him as one of the premier quarterbacks in the league. However, it is the extra hardware, the Super Bowl MVP trophy that Rodgers is bringing back with him, that cemented him as the new top dog of Packers’ quarterbacks, even above Brett Favre.
For the last three years, the talk in Green Bay has been could the “Kid from Cal” ever fill the empty shoes left in the wake of number four’s departure? How could he? Favre took the Packers from being perpetual cellar dwellers to the dominant force of the NFC Central and later the NFC North. Remember, kiddies, between Vince Lombardi’s departure after the 1967 seas and the now historic Favre trade, which landed the Atlanta Falcons a first round pick used on Favre’s college teammate Tony Smith who played all of one season in the NFL, the Packers managed to put together just five winning seasons, including a strike-shortened 1982 season when they went 5-3-1. Favre saved the Packers. Heck, Brett Favre saved the city of Green Bay, Wisc. So, how was Aaron Rodgers, a guy who wasn’t even scouted out of high school and almost quit football, going to ever measure up to that?
Well, Green Bay fans got their answer Sunday. Rodgers captaining the Pack to its first title in almost 15 years proved that he was as good, if not better, than Favre. At 27, his first title came at the same age as Brett Favre’s only win on the sport’s biggest stage. Not only that, but Rodgers beat a better team to boot and had to deal with the “Favre talk” for the last two weeks. Additionally, when Favre and Co. beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI there were three other Pro Bowlers not named Brett Favre on the team, whereas this year’s Packers squad relied on backups and third-string players to get them to where they stand today. It’s a whole lot easier to win games when you have the cream of the crop on your side, but when you’re forced to look to castoffs and rejects from other squads, nine times out of 10 you may as well not even show up to play the game. However, Rodgers proved that even the worst team in the league on paper, Cleveland Browns fans take note, could put together a championship season with a good defense, a great quarterback and a little elbow grease.
Yes, Aaron Rodgers’ 304-yard performance, which included three touchdowns and zero interceptions, solidified him not only as Super Bowl MVP, but as one of the “new legends.” He, along with Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and even Ben Roethlisberger have taken the place of guys like Steve Young, Troy Aikman, John Elway, and, dare I say it, Brett Favre as the best of their position in the game. While there are many years removing them from their predecessors, these field generals of a new era share the same ability to wow as those who came before them.
So, where does that leave Aaron Rodgers, you may ask. Surely now that he’s won a championship, all the Favre comparisons will come to an end. Now where does he rank amongst those who have been there before him? Only time will tell how Aaron Rodgers’ career will end, but if it’s anything like the way it began, it’s sure to be Canton-worthy, and that’s coming from a Chicago Bears fan.