Rodgers with former commissioner Paul Tagliabue
Finally. Brett who?
It took years of waiting, years of learning, and years of dealing with the constant barrage of questions in the form of Brett Favre in order for Aaron Rodgers to earn his opportunity to play for the most coveted trophy in sports: the Vince Lombardi Super Bowl trophy. Those years of waiting sure payed off as Rodgers won Super Bowl XLV MVP honors and played his way into the hearts of football fans everywhere.
Rodgers was put into an almost unenviable position of taking the reigns from the Ironman legend when he was drafted by the Packers in the 2005 NFL Draft.
He was the cocky kid from California, the early entry into the draft as a junior, and one of two predicted "Franchise Quarterbacks". He was just the product of Jeff Tedford, who is infamously known for producing "Franchise QBs" who turn into nothing but busts at the pro level.
Trent Dilfer? Sure, he won a Super Bowl title with the Ravens in 2000, but he is constantly regarded as the reason why teams win a Super Bowl, not just quarterbacks.
Akili Smith? Ask a Bengals fan how good he was.
Kyle Boller? There is a reason Baltimore drafted Joe Flacco as their new QB.
But Rodgers proved he is the exception. He succeeded where no other Quarterback did yesterday, winning Super Bowl XLV MVP honors. He is the golden-armed boy from Chico California, one who was supposed to struggle in cold weather games. He wasn't supposed to survive in frigid Green Bay.
Rodgers is now the owner of the highest passer rating of all-time; regular season and playoffs while he plays half his games at "frigid" Lambeau field. Replacing the iconic legend Brett Favre, who fought his way into the heart and soul of Green Bay football was going to be impossible, the shoes too big to fill.
Yet at only 27 years of age, Aaron Rodgers has won as many Super Bowls as the greatest QB in Packers history. He does not have the three MVP awards, but who is to say he won't when it's all said and done? He has plenty of time to make up ground.
This article isn't meant to bash Brett Favre. That just wouldn't be right. Favre is the best quarterback this generation has ever seen, and that includes the times of Troy Aikman, Steve Young and even the new members of football lore: Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
Aikman won the Super Bowls, but never threw more than 18 touchdowns in a year. Young was fantastic to watch, electrifying. But he only won one as well. Brady played with some of the most dominant defenses in the league in his younger days, and only once threw for more than 300 yards in the Super Bowl. Manning is the ultimate tactician, the machine who plays quarterback perfectly. But even he only has one ring.
Favre was the ultimate old school football QB. He was the young gunslinger, the drug addict, the three-time MVP. He disobeyed his coaches, threw mind boggling interceptions, and never missed a game until this year. He was the boy playing QB, the one who every fan loved no matter the colors they bled. Whether it was green and gold or purple and yellow that flowed through your veins, you loved how he played; loved his enthusiasm and love for the game.
Favre currently stands as the best QB Green Bay has ever seen, and Rodgers has one hell of a journey in front of him if he attempts to catch him. But he won't. It's just not his style. Rodgers will play his heart out and will try to be the best QB he can be. If he happens to eclipse Favre on the way, well, it's just another rung in the ladder.
But today, right now, Rodgers deserves this. Call it what you will: karma, good luck or just pure talent and skill, but today, Aaron Rodgers is the best QB in the league. And he deserves to have his name mentioned with the best of the position today, right next to Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Next to Drew Brees and even ahead of Ben Roethlisberger. Not next to Brett Favre.
Favre is done, finally retired for good. He had his time, and he did the best he could. But Rodgers doesn't deserve to forever have his name linked with Favre's. Aside from both playing QB for the Packers, they have nothing in common.
With this Super Bowl title, Rodgers proved he is his own quarterback, his own man. He is now the face of Green Bay, the newest member of the elite class. He has matched Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. He is now chasing Tom Brady for the league MVP. His Packers will be stacked and preparing to face the league next year with the target on their back. They were the chic-pick, the fan favorite all year long. And next season, they will be the hunted. Other teams want to tear down the best, no matter how much they respect them.
Rodgers was the architect of this team, the man aiming down the sights and pulling the trigger. The hunter. Next season, he will find he is the one being hunted, the one with the sights aimed at him by 31 other teams, 31 other QBs who all want what he has.
General Manager Ted Thompson has set his team up to challenge the rest of the league for the next dynasty. Mike McCarthy is on board for the next two years, with a contract extension already in the works. Their prized QB is only 27 years old; they have 15 players and six starters coming back from IR.
They'll be back with a vengeance, out to show they too can earn a title. They're hungry. They're motivated. There is no reason to doubt they can repeat. It will be tough no doubt, amazingly tough. Teams have repeated as champions only twice since the previous Packers Super Bowl, but the Packers are set to be a juggernaut next season and they will be lead by their general, their captain, and their future; Aaron Rodgers.
This deserves to be the last time that Rodgers and Favre are ever compared, the last time these two names are ever used in the same sentence. It's not fair to either of them. The comparisons need to be shot down, buried. There will still be Favre advocates, those who will clamor for his name all the way to the end, screaming blasphemy at Ted Thompson. Some will hate Rodgers for something out of his control, all while he maintained his composure and proclaimed his love for those same fans. They don't deserve to ride the wave of euphoria that is coming back to Green Bay with Titletown's trophy.
But they will. And eventually, Rodgers will be a forgotten man, much like Favre will. There will be a quarterback to take his place eventually. But not today. Today, he is the best in the league. The best of the Packers. The best in the world. He deserves it.