GREEN BAY, Wis. – Along with being a two-time MVP quarterback, connoisseur of scotch and noted actor, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is an historian of football.
The 53 Super Bowls have been won by 32 quarterbacks. An odd assortment of quarterbacks has won one Super Bowl, ranging from Brett Favre to Brad Johnson and including contemporaries Drew Brees and Russell Wilson. The list of quarterbacks who have won more than one Super Bowl, as Rodgers is well aware, is much more exclusive. Tom Brady has won six, Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana have won four, Troy Aikman has won three, and John Elway, Bob Griese, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Jim Plunkett, Ben Roethlisberger, Roger Staubach and Bart Starr have won two.
Rodgers is trying to join that exclusive list, a quest that resumes on Sunday when the Packers host Seattle in an NFC Divisional playoff game.
“It’s on my mind every day,” Rodgers said. “That’s why we play the game. That’s why you put in the time in the offseason, that’s why you do the little things. It’s to put yourself in this position, where we’re two games away from being able to compete for that. I’m 36. I know what this is all about. This is an important opportunity for us.”
And an important opportunity for his legacy. Whether he retires with one ring or six, Rodgers is a sure-fire Hall of Famer. But some of the luster on his career has been lost with three so-so (by his standards) seasons. When the NFL released its 100-year team last month, Rodgers was deemed not worthy of one of the 10 spots at quarterback. A second Super Bowl championship could change Rodgers’ place in history, just like a second Super Bowl win would have changed how the Favre-led teams of the 1990s are viewed.
“I feel like I’ve got a lot of really good years left, but you never know,” Rodgers said. “A lot of things happen year to year. We’ve had some great teams that have been an injury away or a play away from being special, so I want to make the most of this opportunity.”
Rodgers got a cold, hard slap of that reality the past two seasons. After almost willing an injury-ravaged Packers squad to the NFC Championship Game in 2016, the team’s hot start to 2017 came to a jarring end with his broken collarbone at Minnesota and the 2018 team crashed and burned.
The Packers are back in the playoffs, having earned a first-round bye for the first time since 2014. That team was Rodgers’ best chance at adding a second ring to the one he won in 2010. With seven wins in its final eight regular-season games, that team finished 12-4 and earned a first-round bye. Rodgers won his second MVP, Jordy Nelson dominated, Eddie Lacy was superb, the offensive line was elite and the defense was formidable. Green Bay’s shot at a second Super Bowl win in five seasons, of course, was derailed by the epic meltdown at Seattle.
This team, the most complete Rodgers has played with since 2010, represents his best chance to join that hallowed list of multiple Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks.
“We wanted one of these for a while, a divisional game at home, good opponent, with the weather in our favor,” Rodgers said.
At age 36, there’s no guarantee Rodgers will be in this position again. Perhaps this season is simply the jumping-off point for coach Matt LaFleur, and this year’s inconsistent offense will hit high gear next year. Or, perhaps the confluence of close-game dominance and incredible health will make this 13-win season a mere blip on the radar.
With that, Rodgers knows what’s at stake. To say it’s now or never might be an exaggeration. But it might also be true. As bitter as the ending in Seattle, Rodgers could at least find some solace in the fact he was 31 at the time and time was on his side. That’s no longer the case, with his play this season reflecting the fact that Rodgers is squarely on the back nine of his career.
“When I was 31,” Rodgers said, “I thought I was going to play into my 40s and that was still a decade away, and now I’m 36 so now we’re a half a decade away.”