When Aaron Rodgers was knocked into the artificial U.S. Bank Stadium turf in October, the widespread belief was he was done for 2017. A clavicle fracture takes at least six weeks to heal. That’s simply a waiting process. The complexity with this fracture was that it was to the throwing shoulder of the most talented quarterback in the universe. Bone fractures need rest, stability, inactivity. Inactivity is not a good thing for an arm that’s accustomed to whipping pigskins at rocket speeds that would make Kim Jong Un gush. That arm needs to retain it’s strength. If it can’t retain, then it must rebuild, which means rehab. Normal people need several weeks to months of rehab for gaining back arm strength and flexibility after clavicle fractures. My money was on a mid-January return, given Brett Hundley could get the team there.
Instead, my forecast changed abruptly on 12/12: Aaron Rodgers Day. Late on this state holiday, we found out Rodgers bought some deer antler spray from Ray Lewis and healed miraculously. Or something like that. Either way, he’s back, boys and girls!
(The lone benefit of Martellus Bennett’s time in Green Bay was the set of textbackpack GIFs that were produced. Then, he quickly got back to lying about and alienating his Green Bay colleagues while supporting his brother’s dirty play and lying/racebaiting.)
Or, as Randy Quaid put it so succinctly to those alien assholes from Independence Day:
The excitement is nearly impossible to contain. At this point, we best embrace it. The days of having this All-World quarterback are numbered. One day, maybe five, ten, or at the most fifteen years from now, Green Bay is going to stink, with no light at the end of the tunnel. The majority of the fanbase born after 1980 will have largely given up on the team after enduring mediocrity that they never knew was possible. It’s going to happen. 7 out of 10 of Packers fans born after 1980 that say they’re sticking with the team through thick and thin are lying. So for now, embrace this moment. It could all end anyway on Sunday with a Carolina Panthers victory. But hopefully, they surprise us again and hand the ‘L’ to Cam Newton and company.
Rodgers is back. For some, that’s all that matters. However, the task he has is monumental. He has a litany of things going against him.
- Dom Capers
- The Panthers
- The Vikings
- The Lions
- The Seahawks and Panthers needing to lose again if this week goes successfully
- Dom Capers
- No home playoff games unless the Vikings somehow lose out, which won’t happen.
Sorry to be a Negative Nancy, but nothing matters if they don’t beat Carolina. The past two weeks suggest this team doesn’t know how to die. They are battle tested and tough. Odds, analytics, and all other realities be damned, this team believes. It’s as cliche as it gets, but a team that doesn’t believe, but knows, that they can win no matter what, is the ultimate weapon.
In closing, there’s credit that needs to be given where it’s due. Brett Hundley deserves a firm handshake and a drink. Yes, he put together some real clunkers, at Lambeau in particular. But you know what? The son of a bitch never wavered once. He carried himself like a professional. The minute Rodgers went down, he stepped onto the field as confident as you could expect. Granted, he was as lost as a blind man in a forest much of the time, but it was a blind man who had no doubts that he was somehow going to get out of the forest. That’s what Hundley did. He was in a hell of a jam, with critics and clueless fans calling for Joe Callahan to replace him, which is just insane when you think about it.
Inexplicably, Hundley put together his best and grittiest performance on the road against arguably the best team in the AFC in the Pittsburgh Steelers on national TV. He willed the Packers into a tie game near the end of regulation. He repeated this the next two weeks, and led the team to winning drives in overtime each time. When the heat was on, he remained as cool as ever. That’s what you call a gamer. A classic backup QB is someone who’s not going to thrill the crowd, but will keep the squad in contention in an ugly fashion, more likely than not. This stretch with Hundley was damn ugly, but damn memorable.
Brett Hundley may not have done himself a ton of favors for a large contract or a starting job elsewhere. Instead, he may have done Green Bay a favor in making himself remain affordable as an experienced backup. That’s a valuable commodity for a contender.
Carolina is going to be one tough opponent. Recent history says this squad will be up to the challenge, 14 point deficits be damned. Run the Table Volume 2 can keep rolling as long as it wants.
________________John Piotrowski is a UW-Eau Claire alum, spending most of his life in western WI. He makes the trek east to Lambeau whenever possible. Follow him on twitter at @piosGBP.