There is no position in team sports that carries the same level of importance as the NFL quarterback.
He is the heart and soul of the team. He directs the offense, he sells the most jerseys and he leads the entire team. He soaks in all the glory when his team is on top, and he shoulders all the blame when his team putters into irrelevancy.
If you don’t have a premier quarterback, you don’t have a chance.
That’s why despite already owning one of the best quarterbacks in the league, countless Green Bay Packer fans were overjoyed when Ted Thompson selected Aaron Rodgers with the 24th overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft.
Rodgers was more than ready.
When Favre had to exit early against an eventual 13-3 Dallas team back on November 29, 2007, Rodgers saw the first meaningful playing time of his young NFL career. Although the Packers lost, Rodgers completed 18 of his 26 passes for 201 yards and one touchdown, good for a quarterback rating of 104.8.
17,037 passing yards, 131 touchdown passes, one Super Bowl MVP and one regular-season MVP later, Rodgers is now arguably the best quarterback in the world.
Despite having a defense that gave up an NFL-record 4,796 passing yards, a running game that ranked 28th in the league in yards per rush and an offensive line that endured multiple injuries and instability, Rodgers still led Green Bay to a league-best 15-1 record.
Think about that. No defense. No running game. An offensive line that couldn’t stay healthy. It was all Aaron Rodgers and his receiving corps last year, and still many NFL fans and experts believed the Packers had a shot to go a perfect 19-0 on the season.
Of course, Green Bay didn’t make it that far. They actually went on to lose their first playoff game to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
But the fact that your quarterback is so good that your team is a Super Bowl contender every year no matter how bad the rest of your team stinks is such a luxury to have as a fan of an NFL team.
As a Packer fan, I’ve been worrying about the defense and running game the whole offseason. Did Thompson draft the right guys to patch up our defensive holes? Will Cedric Benson finally be the 1,000-plus yard rusher to properly complement the passing game? Can Clay Matthews return to his 2010 form?
If the Packers are going to win another Super Bowl, both of these areas are going to need at least some fixing up.
But as long as Aaron Rodgers stays healthy, I know Green Bay will be a top contender for at least the next five years.
And as long as the Packers are a contender, they can get hot going into the playoffs any given year and march to the Super Bowl, much like their run in 2010.
It’s a great luxury to have, and it’s all thanks to No. 12.