This is a special admission, a plea, to all the women (I flatter myself pluralizing) who might be reading these words...I’m unfaithful. And the man in your life is, too, regardless who he might be: husband, boyfriend, son, father, brother, teacher, boss, pastor. They, like I, all harbor a man crush.
There are various forms of the man crush; it could be cursory, a passing fling. It could be deep seeded and permanent. I thought I was amongst the former, but alas, my crush has grown beyond flirtation, it’s forever now...there’s a ring involved. And a belt.
Yes, I’m in love with Aaron Rodgers.
I should have seen the signs. For as long as I can remember, my dark obsession has been franchise quarterbacks, but not just the established names, the upcoming stars. Peyton Manning won a Super Bowl in ’06, but I remember him conducting the Tennessee band. There is something different about a bad team with a young, potential franchise signal caller and the maturing, limitless potential always lured me with its siren song.
The first moment of flirtation came, as it often has, on a Saturday. October 9, 2004. Rodgers sets the NCAA record for consecutive completions, his first 23 attempts no less, keeping Cal with eventual national champion USC. He finished 29-34, 267 yards, one touchdown. And a six point loser. Still, I was flabbergasted. NCAA record you say? That’s cleavage to a football nut.
But, there were doubts. He was a system quarterback, taught by the same coach, Jeff Tedford, who sent Akili Smith and Joey Harrington into the NFL as top five picks (each was selected No. 3, respectively). What about Aaron was different? The 2005 draft would be his rainy day, his nadir. That’s the day he waited four hours and thirty five minutes in the green room, cameras trained on him, even after offering to take less money in order to be the first overall selection of the San Francisco 49ers. It was official; the bombshell had her rainy prom and I had a man crush.
But, he was going to Green Bay, where the starter never misses snaps. And he didn’t. From 2005-2008, Green Bay starter Brett Favre continued his iron man streak of consecutive starts and worse...following the 2005 season, the Packers hired Mike McCarthy, the offensive coordinator from San Francisco. He was one of the men who thought so much of Rodgers, they drafted Alex Smith instead.
Rodgers changed his number entering the NFL. He was unable to persuade Ryan Longwell to surrender the No. 8. Afterall, Longwell was a kicker. They have SO much sway in the team meetings.
So, the Packers make a playoff run in 2007, falling short to eventual champion New York and after the loss, Favre...retires. Aaron Rodgers was the starting quarterback and like a jilted lover, I’m captivated again. Following a legend is impossible though, it never works, ask Ray Handley. Ron Zook. Steve Young? Maybe there was hope...until Brett unretired.
Yet, entering the 2008 season, Ted Thompson and McCarthy stick to their convictions. They keep Rodgers as the starter, trading Favre to the Jets where he can continue his legacy and proposition sideline “reporters.” Allegedly.
The Packers stumble, but Rodgers shines, completing 341 of 536 passes for 4038 yards and 28 touchdowns passing and another four on foot. Those are the digits and they might as well have been written on a cocktail napkin. But, it would take more to push the relationship past flirting. 2009 provided the wins, 10 of them, another season of stellar stats (350-531, 4434 yards, 35 total TD’s) and a playoff berth that included the highest scoring game in postseason history.
Sure, my crush had the body...of work. There was the potential, the adversity that created character; but, I’m an unabashed nerd, what can you do to really reel me in, Aaron?
Hold on...I was raised in the south...wrestling’s real below the Mason-Dixon. Did that man just call for the title?
That’s it. I was hooked. Man-lationship official. I was in man love with Aaron Rodgers.
I had Favre fanatics motioning to their waists; my wife was rolling her eyes anytime I salivated on Sunday afternoons. And it is to her and other women I plead, imploring you: Don’t shut your man from his man crush. They have one. It’s pure and innocent, even if he might be willing to do something he never thought he would for said crush.
For six years, I courted man crushes and I admit today, I am off the market. I’m sorry, Andrew Luck. I apologize, Jeff Driskel. Tim Tebow...you’ll always have a special place in my life and I know you loved 2006 and 2008 even more than I did. I’m in man love with Aaron Rodgers and it will last forever. After all, now there’s a ring involved.