Aaron Rodgers has had his share of difficulties on his journey to whats sure to be his first MVP award given at the end of the season. His story is well documented from his time as an undersized quarterback in high school to having to attend a community college because he wasn't highly recruited to the infamous slide on draft day. It also didn't help that Rodgers was chosen by the Packers.
Perhaps his greatest challenge was in becoming the heir apparent to the biggest rock star in the league in Brett Favre. From the gushing of the likes of John Madden, to the adoration of most Packer fans, Favre became an almost mythical figure. He could do no wrong when common sense told you his actions were selfish and arrogant. They were easily forgiven due to his Paul Bunyan-esque stature and reputation as an NFL iron man over the course of more than a decade.
When Rodgers was drafted, he instantly became the "guy who was going to replace the legend (Favre)". He learned quickly that there were Packer fans and Favre fans. The latter could be described as being an unwavering and emotional sort. Favre was their king. Their allegiance was solid. Some of these folks still have Jets and Vikings Favre jerseys hanging in their closets. No matter what Rodgers did, it wasn't going to be good enough.
Rodgers didn't help his cause when he struggled in his first few years in preseason games. He still had the robotic throwing motion from college. As he later admitted, he "wasn't very good". From there, Rodgers seemed to settle in his role. He lead the scout team and made it fun in the process. He learned and he worked at becoming an NFL quarterback. It's where the "championship belt" came into existence.
Rodgers finally saw his first real action the '07 season against Dallas. The Packers were in the middle of a resurgence. They were 10-1 and Favre was having possibly the best year of his career. In a game in which Favre looked scattered, he was injured in the second quarter. Rodgers replaced him and instantly the team had some spark. Rodgers lead some impressive drives the rest of the game and proved that he had the look of an NFL quarterback.
Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy were also pleased because what they had been seeing in practice was actually put on display in a live, important game, albeit a loss. They were convinced then that they had the quarterback of their future. Rodgers' performance that day ultimately lead to the decision to later trade Favre to the Jets.
The story of the '08 Favre saga has been argued, discussed and has probably been the cause of many fights between family and friends alike. There were egos involved and eventually Favre was out of Green Bay. The Favre fans were in mourning and disbelief. How could the Packers win without Favre? I'm sure to a few, it was like a death in the family. They were also angry with Packers management and to some extent, Rodgers, possibly as a show of loyalty to Favre.
As the '08 season wore on, the Packers were struggling. They continued to lose close games with Rodgers at the helm. Although he wasn't the root cause, he replaced Favre, and expectations for the Packers were much higher after going 13-3 and making it to NFC championship game the previous season. Eventually the 6-10 record of Rodgers' first year was unsuccessful, and unacceptable, especially for the Favre fans. Although Rodgers statistics were good, they didn't want to hear about numbers, only wins.
Finally the wins started coming in '09 and Rodgers was having a huge statistical year. Although the Packers season ended with a Rodgers turnover, he also lead an impressive second half comeback that was as impressive as any quarterback's performance in the history of the Packers. The team was looking good and many Favre fans were taking notice.
2010 was a dream season for Packers fans, but was completely unexpected. The offense was struggling early in the year, and the injuries continued to mount. With history not exactly on their side, and an 8-6 record, the Packers were the last team to make it into the playoffs. Rodgers then lead them all the way to a Superbowl. His numbers during the Packers playoff run were incomparable. He had become great and performed on the highest level.
Looking back on the 2011 season, it's much the same as last year, only better. Rodgers has all the stats, accolades, and most importantly, the Packers haven't lost any games. He and the Packers are the story of the league. The Packers are receiving daily notoriety on a national level. Rodgers is the biggest reason for this, and he does it with class. In a recent poll, only Jesus Christ and Abraham Lincoln had a higher approval rating than Rodgers in the state of Wisconsin.
Green Bay Packers fans are a loyal group, but there was much dissension among the ranks when Brett Favre left and the team was put int the hands of Aaron Rodgers. There were many Favre loyalists who were angry with the decision, and vowed to remain loyal to the team, but never become Rodgers fans. They were persistent and held their ground until somehow the Packers won the Superbowl and Rodgers was named MVP of the game. Winning does indeed cure many ills. It is now okay for Favre fans to be Packers fans and even, Rodgers fans. He is the future, and he is playing at a level which we've never seen before. He will win his first MVP award this year, and probably many more to come.