When you have reached the apex of success, it is often difficult to remain at the top.
After clawing, scratching, fighting, exhausting every last ounce of blood, sweat, and tears, to achieve the ultimate success, the question often becomes “How do we stay here?”
This is a question currently facing the Green Bay Packers.
For the past 20 years, the Packers have been one of the most consistent teams in the NFL. Reaching the playoffs 15 of those 20 seasons, they achieved the pinnacle of the NFL world twice during that time, adding to their NFL record for most titles in history during the process. They are favorites to win the Super Bowl every season, one of the darlings of the NFL, with a rabid fan base hungry for more success.
The team is in more than capable hands. Team President Mark Murphy leaves GM Ted Thompson alone to do what he does best-construct a team which will be Super Bowl competitive every season. Mike McCarthy has been able to keep his team focused (for the most part) leading them to a 47-17 regular season record over the past four seasons. They have the best quarterback in the game in Aaron Rodgers. They have arguably the best wide receiver corp in the league. Perhaps the most dominating single player on defense in Clay Matthews. And most of all, they are hungry-hungry to recapture the glory of 2010.
And now, they face a crossroads.
Following a season which saw them bow out of the playoffs in dramatically poor fashion for the second straight year, I asked myself, will the Packers bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay during the Thompson/McCarthy/Rodgers era? Were the Packers built for continued success for the next 5-10 years? Or where they a team that got really, really lucky in 2010, peaking at precicely the right time and riding momentum throughout the playoffs that glorious January and February of 2011?
Just to make sure it was not paranoia, I posed the question to a group of fellow bloggers to see what their opinions were: Will the Packers win another Super Bowl with the same leadership they currently have?
The answers were surprising.
Out of the nine people asked, five said that the Packers would win another title under Thompson/McCarthy/Rodgers. For a team that is supposedly constructed for long term success, it seemed a little odd that this was such a low percentage. With superior talent at several positions, why would only 55% of this small sample agree that another Lombardi Trophy was in the Packers future?
For one of the bloggers polled, the reason was simple-as long as Dom Capers is running the defense, they will not win again. While I might agree that Capers has much to prove this upcoming season, the failure of the defense may not be the only reason the Packers may not win another title, but that remains to be seen.
The most surprising results of this quick poll were the four who believe that despite all of their individual talent, the Packers are questionable to win another Super Bowl. One answer was a solid no. Three more answers were questionable. They could win again, but may not. Two also added that if they do, it won’t be for a few years, when Rodgers is at the end of his prime playing years.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the current leadership.
So what would it mean if the Packers, for all of their talent, for all of their hype, loaded with talent, won only one Super Bowl under this regime?
During an interview with Bob Costas before the playoff game against the 49ers, Rodgers made it clear what his view of legacies is:
“I really believe that you earn your paycheck during the season. Play at a high level and get your team to the playoffs. And then the postseason is all about creating your legacy. The great quarterbacks are remembered for their playoff successes and triumphs and Super Bowl championships and Super Bowl MVPs. We’ve got one here and we want to add to that.”
While the statement may only apply to Rodgers as far as playing on the field, the legacies of Thompson, McCarthy, and Rodgers are all intertwined. They will forever be remembered as the trio of the post Favre era, and their lasting imprint on the history of the Packers.
Only two General Managers have won multiple titles for the Packers. Streets and stadiums are named in their honor.
Only two coaches have won more than one world championship for the Packers. Statues are erected in their honor.
Quarterbacks with the names Starr and Herber have won more than one title while playing in Green Bay, immortalized forever as legends.
That is what winning another title means to the trio of Thompson, McCarthy, and Rodgers. Placement among the absolute best in the rich history of the Packers.
Failure to do so, and this trio, surrounded by ample talent to achieve the big prize once again, may be nothing more than what former GM Ron Wolf referred to his Super Bowl winning team as: a fart in the wind.
After the stink jobs they gave us in the playoffs the past two years let’s hope it doesn’t start getting too windy.
John Rehor is a staff writer at PackersTalk.com and co-host of Cheesehead Radio. To contact John follow him on Twitter @jrehor or email firstname.lastname@example.org