With Brett Favre's departure from Green Bay now a certainty, Aaron Rodgers is finally the undisputed guy in Green Bay. As most fans of the NFL not living under a rock probably already know, Brett Favre was traded to the New York Jets for a conditional draft pick late last night.
In terms of where the Packers stand at the QB position, they are essentially at the same place they were in March when Brett Favre prematurely announced his retirement from the NFL... that is with Aaron Rodgers as the Packers' starting QB for the upcoming 2008 NFL season. However, unlike in March, where he was the heir to a legend, Aaron Rodgers now finds himself in the unenviable position of having been chosen over a legend.
Even before number four decided to return to the NFL, Aaron Rodgers already had a tall order in front of him in having to fill the shoes of one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. What has changed in the wake of the fiasco that has transpired in Green Bay over the last couple of months culminating in Favre's trade to the New York Jets, is that any fan leeway that Rodgers could have expected had Favre stayed retired is now utterly gone.
It is hard enough for a young player in Rodgers' position to meet the expectations placed on a starting QB in the NFL. Had Favre stayed retired, Packers fans would have at least had some patience and at least a little sympathy for a young QB learning the ins and outs of playing every down, every Sunday.
The Packers brass in one trade essentially relegated Aaron Rodgers to a QB that must now prove himself to be as good or better than an NFL legend; instead of just being a young QB that simply has to prove himself as a worthy starter.
From the first snap of the 2008 NFL season, Aaron Rodgers will be competing with Brett Favre in the eyes of Packers fans. Rather than showing the fans what might lie ahead, Rodgers now has to deal with what could have been. In order for him to meet these expectations, he'll have to pull off what another #12 pulled off when his chance came up.
Unfortunately for him, Aaron Rodgers is no Tom Brady.
We all know what Tom Brady was able to do in 2001 when he replaced the guy who lost to Brett Favre in Superbowl 31 (Drew Beldsoe); Tom Brady won a Superbowl. These are the kind of expectations that fans are now going to place on Aaron Rodgers; and the blame for this lies entirely on the Packers' brass.
Instead of a team that was forced to start fresh with a new QB, the Packers are a now team that chose a fresh Aaron Rodgers over a QB that has won three MVP awards, owns almost every career record that matters and that took their team to the NFC finals last year. These are the kind of expectations that crush a young quarterback's confidence and possibly their entire career. Aaron Rodgers doesn't stand a chance.
What would have been crowd silence when the young Rodgers makes a mistake is now going to be heckling from the hometown crowd. What would have been tolerance in the media for a slow start by a young and inexperienced QB will now become a poor choice by the the Packers front office in choosing an unproven QB over Brett Favre. Whether Aaron Rodgers is at fault or not, he is now by default the guy who is not Brett Favre.
The Packers front office had a choice, let Aaron Rodgers sit for one more year and replace Brett Favre when Brett Favre was ready to leave the game, or force a young QB to live up to a legend right away. The Packers made their choice, and now Aaron Rodgers is going to have to live with it, whether he is ready for it or not.
No player can start their career under those kind of circumstances, not even Tom Brady. Tom Brady took over from Drew Bledsoe when the Pats were 1-3 and hadn't won a thing since 1997. Aaron Rodgers is taking over for a QB that took his team to the NFC championship last season.
If the Packers don't win right away, Aaron Rodgers' career might be over before it ever had the chance to start. I'm not big on predictions, but in this case I think Aaron Rodgers is completely screwed!