It takes more than talent to be successful in the National Football League. Winning requires a high level of skill, team chemistry, intellect, and leadership. As a result, Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers‘s team value has come into question recently. But, regardless of who the future “next man up” might be, this is Aaron Rodger’s team, and his weight in their success right now is immeasurable.

Statistics Tell Part of the Story

Let’s start with the obvious.  Rodgers is the all-time career leader in passer rating with a 103.9 score over 16 seasons.   

By comparison, Tom Brady has a career passer rating of 97.3, and recent Hall of Fame inductee Peyton Manning finished his career with a passer rating of 96.5.  

Rodgers has the most consecutive seasons with a passer rating over 100 and holds the current record for best all-time TD to INT ratio.  He is also a league three-time MVP (2011, 2014, 2020).

His career pass completion percentage is 65.1 throughout his 16 seasons. He has thrown for 51,245 yards, scored 412 passing TDs, scored 31 rushing TDs, and threw only 89 INTs. 

Brett Favre ( a personal favorite Packer great) threw for 336 INTs in 20 seasons, yet I do not recall his team value ever coming into question.

Aaron Rodgers’ talent, powerful arm strength, laser-like accuracy, and career statistics alone put him in the conversation of greatest of all-time quarterbacks.

However, the contributions Rodgers adds beyond the stat lines are not easily recognized or measured.  His competitive fire, tremendous intelligence for football and life in general, and wisdom in knowing that winning necessitates more than just his production alone.  

Football is a team sport, and the Packer’s success requires him and his teammates to play at their highest level.  Aaron Rodgers’s presence makes everyone around him better players. 

Smartest Guy in the Building

The fill-in Jeopardy host has an IQ of over 130.  Albert Einstein was reportedly somewhere north of 160.  I am not sure what Aaron’s opinion is regarding Quantum Physics, but I guess he may have one, unlike most.

As for football intelligence, is there anything he has not seen or experienced on the field as he enters his 17th NFL campaign?  The naysayers offer criticism for his desire to be more involved in personnel decisions. However, I believe such expertise should be welcomed.

If I were the Packer management, I would embrace such free counsel with open arms.  They typically are willing to pay consultants plenty to offer quality advice, yet they can have him do so at no extra charge. 

Sure they have scouts and talent evaluators and football-minded advisors galore. Still, not a single one has the same perspective as Aaron Rodgers, that being an on-the-field, actually playing with and knowing the players from a teammate’s perspective.  To me, that all seems extremely valuable.

Amazing Practice Leadership

The current team has several team leaders.  On offense, we have heard of the impact Mercedes Lewis brings or the experienced insight of Mason Crosby

On the defensive side,  Adrian Amos and ZaDarius Smith are both recognized for their leadership roles.

But there is no mistaking who is this team’s one true leader.  No question who is the most respected player on the roster and most in command and control of the 2021 Green Bay Packer squad. 

Aaron Rodgers is simply a fantastic guy to watch practice.  His desire to win is apparent in everything he does, and he often looks every bit like a coach and teacher as he does a player.

In training camp, I have seen him talking to everyone. I’ve watched as he will approach all players after good plays or bad. 

From his gestures and body language, you can see he is offering advice.  So many times, I find myself wishing I could hear those conversations, wondering what he might be saying to help them all become better players.

The incredible thing is he is not selective or does not seem to favor any position or player. While often focusing on quarterbacks Jordan Love or Kurt Benkert, he will also approach players like Amari Rodgers, Marques Valdes-Scantling, Josiah Deguara, or Josh Meyers.  

In addition, time after time,  he can be seen having after-play conversations with rookie players, veterans, players guaranteed roster spots, and players decidedly on the fence. 

All part of his wanting players to be their best, all part of his team-first mentality.

It goes even further.  During the combined practice session with the New York Jets, I watched Rodgers’s lengthy conversation with the number 2 pick in the 2021 draft,  Jets QB Zach Wilson. 

Again had me wishing I could hear that discussion, wondering what advice a future Hall of Famer might be giving such a highly touted rookie.

The Bottom Line

What Aaron Rodgers brings to the table is so beyond physical skill and ability.  He is the current face of the franchise and an obvious fan favorite despite any ignorance in some thinking this guy is easily replaceable.  That he is not.

Rodgers does understand what is required to win. But, he also knows it has as much to do with team chemistry, with all moving parts working together and all players exceeding their expectations and rising to a greater level. 

You can see in practice what he is trying to achieve.

Las Vegas oddsmakers have the Green Bay Packers as 4 to 1 favorite to win the Super Bowl this season. So placing them in the final four is pretty high expectations. However, those Vegas odds have changed in the past few months. 

Before Aaron’s return, when it appeared he might not play this year in Green Bay, those odds were as high as 20 to 1 to win the Super Bowl.  That significant change identifies the respect those oddsmakers have for the value Aaron Rodgers brings to this team. Finally, it seems at least they get it.

Humor Always a Plus

On a lighter note, the funniest moment of Wednesday’s Packer-Jets practice came with full 11 on 11 drills, complete with full referee crews monitoring the action.

As Rodger’s was rolling out to his right, the referee behind the quarterback blew a quick whistle calling the play dead. 

Rodgers returned to the ref as if to complain of the play stoppage.  ( As it turned out, the ref called the foul because a defensive lineman came very close to tackling Rodgers as he began his rollout, and being a redshirt QB, the ref killed the play despite Rodgers escaping untouched). 

As Rodgers’ stated his case to the referee, he reached to the ref’s belt and grabbed his yellow flag tossing it in the air as if to be calling a foul on the ref himself.  He was seen pointing a finger toward the ref as if to declare the infraction on him.

A light-hearted moment that perhaps only someone of Rodgers stature could get away with, much to the delight of the crowd watching. 

It also somewhat demonstrated Rodger’s ability to keep things loose and enjoy the game.  Another reason why his style of leadership gives reason to believe the Las Vegas oddsmakers.

There will come a day where Aaron Rodgers will no longer be the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. But, with the incredible value his presence brings, let’s hope that day is several years off.