Hall of Famer Steve Young and Tampa Bay Buccaneers star Tom Brady attempted to get inside the head of Aaron Rodgers as the Green Bay Packers quarterback enters a potentially pivotal offseason.
Given his age, 39, retirement is clearly a possibility for the 10-time Pro Bowler.
"I always tell people, 'The next day you're at the bottom of a cliff in a broken sack of bones. And then you gotta stand up and start doing something different.' But it's never going to be the same. It'll never be as all-encompassing, every bit of yourself poured out every week. There's nothing like it. And that's why Aaron is sitting in that spot, looking over the cliff going, 'I don't want to fall down there. I don't want to go there. I don't.' I just viscerally feel him today."
Brady, whose first retirement didn't stick, concurred with Young's comments.
"Steve brings out the perfect point," he said. "Those are absolutely legitimate feelings and emotions. And I think the most important thing is the day after the season, and I made this mistake, is not to decide the future."
The Packers suffered a 20-16 loss to the Detroit Lions to end their 2022 season. Finishing with a losing record (8-9) and missing the playoffs was undoubtedly a deflating result. But Sunday night felt different because there was the sense it could be the end of an era.
Lions rookie Jameson Williams appeared to ask Rodgers for a jersey exchange on the field, only for him to decline.
The four-time MVP didn't make any proclamations as to his status for 2023 immediately after the game, but he struck a reflective tone in his press conference following the defeat.
"At some point, the carousel comes to a stop and it's time to get off, and I think you kind of know when that is," he told reporters. "And that's what needs to be contemplated. Is it time? Also, what's the organization doing? That's part of it, as well."
Maybe Rodgers really does retire.
The Davante Adams trade left a massive void in Green Bay's passing game, but there's no getting around the fact the veteran signal-caller wasn't himself this year. He threw for 3,695 yards, 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. His 217.4 passing yards per game and 39.4 QBR were his lowest since taking over as the starter in 2008.
What if the decline is more pronounced next season?
But people were also saying the same things to some degree about Brady after what proved to be his final year with the New England Patriots in 2019. He then looked rejuvenated with the Buccaneers.
For Rodgers, leaving the Packers could be a better move than retiring altogether. New surroundings could have a refreshing effect and get him closer to a second Super Bowl win.
Much like it experienced with Brett Favre, Green Bay might prefer a separation as well so it can avoid going into every offseason wondering about Rodgers' future.