Have you ever laid on a blanket on a patch of soggy grass somewhere, or sat on an uncomfortable lawn chair in some brown ballpark outfield on a sweltering July evening impatiently waiting for a fireworks show that is bound to disappoint to begin? Why do we do this? Instead of sitting at our temperature controlled house enjoying an ice cold beverage and listening to Willie Nelson’s Stardust, we choose to go sweat in the humid summer air to watch something we have seen a thousand times before, which will inevitably be roughly as satisfying as a meal at Applebee’s. It seems insane. Yet, there we sit. Welcome to the Green Bay Packers offseason 2022.
Over the next few weeks, we will scour Twitter, stalk Facebook, shout down ESPN talking heads, parse cryptic messages from former teammates like they are sacred ancient scrolls, and talk ourselves into a multitude of scenarios, all to the gratification of one supremely talented, and supremely hirsute quarterback. Just like we did in the spring of 2021. And 2020. And 2007. And 2006. A tale as old as time. We, the Green Bay Packers collective, have about as much sway on Aaron Rodgers decision as we have sway over who the next Prime Minister of Malaysia will be. Yet, surely, we will piss away the next several weeks fruitlessly opining on where Aaron Rodgers will be working this fall.
Why will we do this to ourselves, yet again? Lack of control, that’s why. American’s love to have control. We need it. We crave it. Look at the show’s we watch–Game of Thrones. Succession. Yellowstone. House of Cards. Cable news programs. The seductive whisper of power. We love to watch people smarter than us outmaneuver one another to grab brass rings we could never acquire. And, we picture ourselves in those scenarios, making those decisions. It’s why Draft Night is so insufferable on social media sites. Fanatics of various gonfalons making snap judgements on teenagers who barely started shaving. It’s ridiculous. It’s control. We know better, damnit, and we can hypothetically prove it. Just look at the Rodgers discourse over the three weeks. Cold and old. Shot. Done. All this while Rodgers cooly collected his fourth MVP trophy. Something doesn’t add up. Possibly, the discourse simmers because the power is not in our hands. Nor, is it in Brian Gutenkunst and Russ Ball’s hands either, honestly. It’s in Rodgers. It’s a feeling that is foreign to all of us. Having enough power to dictate your future, possibly even dictate the entire Green Bay Packers future, honestly. You gotta admit–it makes for a hell of an entertaining TV program.
Over the last decade, the discourse around sports has become nearly as popular as watching the sport itself. Look at the numbers that are being paid for sports outlets like The Ringer, The Athletic, and, Barstool Sports in just the last year. Nine figure deals to companies not to distribute the games themselves–to distribute opinions on the games! When Aaron Rodgers went on Pat McAfee to discuss his immunization status this past season, unannounced on a Friday afternoon, the show peaked with 77,000 viewers. That’s not even counting the vast number of people who were listening to the simulcast on Sirius. McAfee himself, weeks later, would ink his own multi million dollar partnership with Fan Duel. Football is the most important (ie–profitable) entity in American entertainment currently. 75 of the top 100 television programs of 2021 were football games. Corporate titans like Amazon and Disney are lining up to dip their dirty little fingers into the NFL’s lucrative pie. And, it’s this thirst for NFL content that fuels this player empowerment era we currently find ourselves in. Dan Marino wasn’t appearing on Johnny Carson every Tuesday in 1986. Joe Montana wasn’t having his every movement tracked on social media during San Francisco’s glory days in the early nineties. Players don’t just control their teams anymore. They control their narratives. They control, in essence, their destinies. There is that word again.
And, just as this new era has given rise to players outsized importance, it has given rise to fan’s overzealousness and boredom. No longer content to purchase a ticket and boo when their team does not meet to their standards, fans can now voice their opinions for free, from the comfort of their own couch. And, this is the familiar crossroads that we, as Packers fans, find ourselves again. A lack of control over our current situation, and a ready platform to stave our offseason boredom by loudly sharing our needless opinions and screaming into the ether yet again. A soggy field. A blanket. Plenty of time on our hands. Just waiting for the show to begin.
Eventually Aaron Rodgers will wake up in Bali, or Lake Tahoe, or on a yacht off Catalina and make his decision (maybe even on the Pat McAfee Show). And the knowledge of the crowd with roar and rage with it’s approval or lack thereof. And, eventually Green Bay’s front office will be forced to reload for another Last Dance or ship Rodgers off to a new asset-rich dance partner. Eventually, we will take the practice field in July, and line up for the first kick off of the 2022 season at Lambeau Field. And, we can be certain of three things–their will be a quarterback under center for the Packers. Our opinions and our time spent espousing said opinions will have had no impact on who that quarterback is. And, there will be fireworks. There is always fireworks at Lambeau for the first game. And, fall fireworks, unlike summer fireworks, are always worth the wait.
Timothy Preece has been a Packers fan since 1991 and currently lives in Utah because he makes bad decisions. You can follow him on twitter at @LegitimateTimP.