Interesting little-known factoid I got from my postgame conversation with Aaron Rodgers: After being twice-concussed this season, he changed helmets to one of the new, safer, high-tech models the league has been urging players to use.
Remember the big helmet-to-helmet hit he took early in the fourth quarter from Chicago defensive end Julius Peppers, the one that drew a 15-yard penalty on Peppers? Well, Rodgers feels that hit could well have led to concussion number three had he not been wearing the new helmet.
"That was lucky,'' Rodgers told me. "As much as the new helmet feels uncomfortable and I'm still getting used to it, I'm really happy I was wearing it on that hit.''
The hit by Peppers, running full bore at Rodgers, is the kind the league wants to take out of the game -- even thought Peppers is absolutely not a dirty player and I'm sure didn't mean to hit Rodgers in the head. Rodgers took no malice from it at all. But the league wants onrushing linemen to aim lower with their hits, and I wouldn't be surprised if Peppers gets a fine for making contact with Rodgers' helmet, even though it wasn't the kind of classic helmet-to-helmet hit that leaves a quarterback woozy.
"It hurt, I can tell you that,'' Rodgers said. "He hit me pretty good. I know what a concussion feels like. I'm just grateful this wasn't hard enough to give me another one.''
Rodgers said he wasn't woozy at all after the game, and he looked fine. So I'm sure he won't feel foggy for the Super Bowl. Coach Mike McCarthy did say he had a sore throwing shoulder, from his one-yard touchdown run on the first series of the game, but it didn't sound as if McCarthy or Rodgers felt it would limit anything the Packers will do against Pittsburgh in 12 days.
Now for your e-mail:
• 18-GAME SCHEDULE TALK. "I guess since all the NFL players were saying how it is no big deal to play on an injured leg, we'll have an 18-game season [in 2012]. I mean, how can NFL players use 'fear of injuries' as an excuse now?''-- Ken of Halifax, Nova Scotia
• "Don't you think that Packers-Steelers Super Bowl kind of proves the point that teams can handle the longer 18-game regular season? I mean, two teams that had several injuries, defeated two teams that had very few.''-- Armando Martinez, Green Bay
Nova Scotia Ken is referencing the players who went on Twitter to rip Jay Cutler for not playing with a knee injury. His point about the 18-game season is well-taken.
Green Bay Armando makes an excellent point. I'm sure those who want the 18 games will use the example of these two teams to help make their case. Good e-mails, guys.
• TODD COLLINS WAS HURT. "It's obviously of little consequence at this point, but I found it a bit curious at what point the Bears chose to use Caleb Hanie in the NFC Championship. Correct me if I'm wrong, but since he entered with 57 seconds left in the third quarter and I believe he was designated the third quarterback (i.e. inactive), both Jay Cutler and Todd Collins would have been prevented from re-entering the game at any point under any circumstances due to the 'Emergency Quarterback' rule. But Hanie came in and handed the ball to Matt Forte twice to end the third quarter.''--Lucas Grishabar, Madison, Wis.
As it turns out, Collins suffered a shoulder injury during the third quarter when he was in the game and couldn't have returned. So the Bears determined that Cutler and Collins were both out for the game when Hanie went into the game.
• I REALLY CAN'T, BUT IT'S THE TRADITION. "Can you explain why All-Pro teams are chosen before the playoffs? If the ultimate goal of every coach and player is to advance to the playoffs and eventually win the Super Bowl, why isn't the production of playoff games considered?''-- Mitzi, San Francisco
That's come up a few times over the years, but the traditional way of choosing these teams has always been to pick it right after the regular season. To judge some players on 19 games instead of 16 would be different from the way the teams were chosen in 1982, let's say. Not saying it's right or wrong; just saying that's the way it's been done over the years.
• HE WANTS HISTORY TO BE MORE THAN 45 YEARS OLD. "Why do you (and virtually all other sportswriters) ignore NFL history? You only say how many Super Bowls the Steelers & Packers have won. The NFL existed before the Super Bowl! The Packers have won 12 NFL championships. That is what the Super Bowl does; it crowns the champion of the NFL. Get it right!''-- Jeff Green, Rochester, Minn.
I don't believe I ignore NFL history, but OK, you've had a chance to make your point.
• WINNING THIS GAME. "If it's not Peyton Manning then it's Tom Brady. If its not Tom Brady then it's Drew Brees. If it's not Drew Brees it's Phillip Rivers. What is it going to take for Ben Roethlisberger to be included as one of today's premier quarterbacks? Seems to me too much emphasis in this Fantasy Football age we live in is put on statistics, numbers and points. All this guy does is win, albeit lots of times not pretty, but he simply wins. Yet he is often overlooked in most primetime discussions."-- Tim, Lederach, Pa.
After the 2008 season, I had Roethlisberger the third-best player in football, behind Manning and Brady. I think he's been treated fairly, particularly since, by his own admission, he didn't play well in that first Super Bowl. But I do think he'll be recognized on the same level with the best players with a win in Super Bowl XLV.