Aaron Rodgers Won't Rule Out Retirement After Season, Says He Wants to 'Not Be a Bum'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVDecember 29, 2021

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 25: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers walks off the field after beating the Cleveland Browns 24-22 at Lambeau Field on December 25, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Whether Aaron Rodgers would suit up for the Green Bay Packers for the 2021 season or have his trade wish granted was a major storyline last offseason. Whether he plays at all in 2022 is shaping up to be a major storyline this offseason. 

Rodgers told reporters Wednesday he hasn't decided on his playing status beyond this season, noting that he wants to go out playing at a high level:

Ryan Wood @ByRyanWood

Aaron Rodgers is not ruling out retiring after this season: "I'm just enjoying this season for this season, and playing next year will definitely be in the thought process." He says it's important for him to "not be a bum" on his way out, but play at high level. He's doing that.

Ryan Wood @ByRyanWood

Whatever he decides after this season, Aaron Rodgers says it will be a "quick decision" instead of a long, drawn-out process. He'll speak with people close to him, including key members of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Packers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Packers</a>, after the season ends and determine how he'll move forward.

One good sign for Packers fans who hope Rodgers sticks around is that the veteran quarterback seems to be enjoying himself this season:

Rob Demovsky @RobDemovsky

Whether or not this factors into his decision, Rodgers did just say "This has been one of my favorite years of football." <a href="https://t.co/5SivqvpZBL">https://t.co/5SivqvpZBL</a>

That was never a guarantee given the tumultuous offseason for Rodgers and the Packers.

But the entire saga regarding his future in Green Bay has felt like ancient history during the season, with the Packers (12-3) sitting atop the NFC and Rodgers (3,689 yards, 33 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a 68.0 completion percentage) playing like an MVP candidate yet again. 

Well, at least it felt like ancient history before Wednesday. 

Granted, Rodgers has hinted at retirement before. When he ended his time away from the Packers in late July, he acknowledged that calling it quits had crossed his mind, though he ultimately decided he still had the desire to play.

"Yeah, it was definitely something I thought about," he told reporters. "I talked about how important being a full-timer was for a long time. This is a first time to spend the offseason away without a COVID year or a lockout year, and I enjoyed it. I really did. I took time working on myself and trying to better myself in a number of areas where I feel like I can improve based on my own patterns and conditioning and it was a lot of growth. In that process, I continued to find joy and happiness in things off the field."

He mentioned something similar in November during an appearance on the Pat McAfee Show:

Pat McAfee @PatMcAfeeShow

"This offseason I faced down what life would be like without football &amp; it felt pretty good.. being away from the squad again with Covid I really missed the guys &amp; there's so many great things I cherish about being in the locker room" ~<a href="https://twitter.com/AaronRodgers12?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AaronRodgers12</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PatMcAfeeShowLIVE?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PatMcAfeeShowLIVE</a> <a href="https://t.co/6viPCU5dUm">pic.twitter.com/6viPCU5dUm</a>

Perhaps none of this should come as a surprise. Rodgers is 38, well past the age the large majority of NFL players ever reach in their careers. It's easy to forget that, given his incredible level of play. 

He also spent time guest-hosting Jeopardy, and it's pretty clear he'll have interests to pursue after football. But if he does retire after this season, he'll be leaving at a time when he's still playing elite football. That would make it a tough pill to swallow for Packers fans.

Perhaps Green Bay will win the Super Bowl this year and give him the opportunity for the type of fairytale send-off only John Elway and Peyton Manning have achieved as quarterbacks.