As all who care are aware, Green Bay Packer Quarterback and reigning NFL Most Valuable Player (“MVP”) Aaron Rodgers has been diagnosed with COVID-19, and under NFL COVID protocols has accordingly been ruled out of the Packers’ game this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs (who are led by their own recent MVP, Quarterback Patrick Mahomes) in Kansas City. As all NFL fans are aware, Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium is renowned as one of the toughest, if not the toughest, arena in the NFL for a visiting team.
While Mr. Rodgers certainly left the impression and acted like he had gotten his COVID vaccination, apparently he didn’t. He will be replaced this week by Packer Backup and former Utah State University Quarterback Jordan Love. Anybody who hasn’t spent the last two years in a cave is aware of the friction existing between Mr. Rodgers and the Green Bay front office caused by Packer General Manager Brian Gutekunst’s selection of Mr. Love in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft (although Mr. Rodgers professes no ill will toward Mr. Love personally, who is obviously an innocent bystander in the dispute). Three reactions:
First: Packer fortunes. Even the most rabid backer of the Green and Gold will concede that the team has not played as well as its 7-1 record would indicate. That said, as things sit today, the team has, based primarily upon Mr. Rodgers’ extraordinary play, maneuvered its way into an excellent position in the NFC playoff race. His absence as the Packers visit an extremely tough venue certainly endangers the team’s current enviable playoff position. While this is little consolation for a significant segment of the roster who, statistically, will be out of the league three years from now, I’m glad that Mr. Rodgers is out. The Packer Nation has already had enough discussion to last a lifetime about Mr. Love’s potential to be a fitting successor to Mr. Rodgers and a couple of his predecessors, Hall of Famers Bart Starr and Brett Favre. On the road against a still-formidable 4-4 Chief team that is struggling to find itself, we’ll finally get a real chance to see if Mr. Love is any good. Hopefully, the Packer receiving corps – Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and, obviously most importantly, Davante Adams – are back from their COVID-related absences to make it a fair opportunity for Mr. Love. For me, the test for him is not whether the team wins, but how well he plays. (Since, as my mother used to say, one swallow does not a summer make, I actually wouldn’t mind if Mr. Love had to start Green Bay’s following home game against another struggling team with a proud tradition, the Seattle Seahawks.)
Second: Given Mr. Rodgers’ prominence, perhaps this fiasco will bring home to the vaccine hesitant and resistant among the Packer faithful the consequences that can result from one’s misguided failure to get vaccinated, and cause some to get the shot. If lives are saved as a result of Mr. Rodgers’ obstinate miscalculation – which, of course, will never be known — it will have been worth it.
The third reaction: in taverns throughout Wisconsin this weekend, discussions will be nonstop among Green Bay fans regarding various points related to Mr. Rodgers’ inability to play. These positions will be earnestly and enthusiastically urged. However, I would venture that even after the state’s most avid progressives and wildest Trumplicans accompany their fish fries with one, two, or perhaps even three refreshers [of course, never more, given the need to drive home safely 😉 ], Packer fans share such a bond – allegiance to the Green and Gold – that no matter how strongly their views of the Rodgers situation may differ, the talk will remain amiable. Disagreements will be expressed … agreeably.
Were it so on issues that matter.