Green Bay Packers fans, Aaron Rodgers has a message for you.
The quarterback knows there were some hard feelings and some awkward moments during the last year. Just over 11 months ago, Rodgers and his Green Bay teammates dropped their second straight NFC Championship game, this time to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, despite three interceptions thrown by Tom Brady.
Then there was that whole mess during the offseason when Rodgers tried to force his way out of town, to the San Francisco 49ers of all franchises, who the Packers will host at Lambeau Field in the Divisional Round of the playoffs this Saturday, January 22.
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There was some icy behavior on the part of the quarterback toward the Green Bay front office and coaching staff, which was met by some “What the heck?” comments — and worse — from Packers fans feeling put off or taken for granted by Rodgers’ behavior. And some uncertainty yet remains, with lingering questions surrounding exactly how long this 17-year football marriage between quarterback and franchise will last beyond the end of the 2021-22 season.
But it’s time to put all of that behind us, at least for now. And Rodgers agrees. He said as much when he stepped to the podium Tuesday to speak with media members just four days ahead of the Packers’ opening playoff game.
He also asked for your help.
Rodgers & Jones Implore Packers Fans to Get Loud Saturday
The coronavirus pandemic robbed Green Bay fans of their last two chances to root on the Packers at Lambeau Field in the playoffs. First, when the Packers defeated the Los Angeles Rams by a score of 32-18 on January 16, 2021. Then again when Green Bay lost to the Bucs 31-26 only eight days later.
Just shy of one year following that crushing defeat, Rodgers took up the microphone and encouraged Packer Nation to make up for lost time, while he and his teammates try to make up for the memories of some recent disappointments — both on the field and off of it.
“I’m excited about our opportunity, excited about the leaders we have on this football team, excited about the guys coming back, and excited to have a full crowd this year as opposed to last year,” Rodgers said. “Hoping for a loud crowd.”
Green Bay running back Aaron Jones, who also spoke to the media Tuesday, doubled down on Rodgers’ sentiment.
“This is one of the louder stadiums in the NFL,” Jones said. “We can feel [the fans’] energy and we feed off to it, so I’m glad to have everybody back in the stands.”
Rodgers Legacy Building This NFL Postseason
When asked about the meaning of these playoffs in the larger contexts of his own career and Packers’ lore, Rodgers admitted that he believes legacy is about a lot more than just wins and losses. However, that doesn’t mean the quarterback is anything less than desperate to bring another Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay, where the Super Bowl era was literally born.
“I understand that in our business, so much of it is focused on wins and losses, especially in the playoffs — Super Bowl rings and all that stuff,” Rodgers said. “I understand that’s part of my legacy I’ll be judged on when I’m done playing. And every year is important when it comes to furthering your legacy. But I take a lot of pride in the success that we’ve had and that I’ve had, and I hope we can add to it.”
The three-time NFL Most Valuable Player also acknowledged that his chances to win again, and to do so specifically in Green Bay, grow thinner with each passing year. That knowledge, Rodgers said, motivates him.
“I think football mortality is something we all think about, and we all think about how many opportunities we are going to be afforded moving forward. Each one is special, each season is different and unique in its own way, as has this one been,” Rodgers said. “There are four teams left on the NFC side, we are one of them. We get to host playoff games. This is a special opportunity.”