Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers Dishes a Brief (But Important) Dose of Reality

Photo Credit: Mike De Sisti (The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports)

All eyes were on The Pat McAfee Show this week. Aaron Rodgers made his weekly appearance on one of the most coveted segments on an emerging heavyweight in the sports media world.

Aaron Rodgers Tuesday.

Unlike prior endeavors, the audience of 125,000 wasn’t interested in Rodgers’ bourbon choice, cancel culture comments, or updates on the infamous COVID toe saga.

A day after posting a cryptic Instagram montage, the world expected the four-time MVP to announce his next move on Tuesday afternoon. Just search Rodgers’ name on Twitter to discover the barrage of trade speculations and retirement rumors that circulated around the web before Tuesday’s show.

Needless to say, we still don’t know what’s next for Rodgers. He squashed the elephant in the room within minutes of his arrival by stating that he would not be announcing his decision on the show. Fresh off a unique cleansing experience, the franchise cornerstone emphasized that he has yet to come to a decision and is still weighing his options.

Once those deflating words escaped his mouth, the audience began to decimate faster than a Davante Adams slant route. Clearly, the pomp and circumstance of anticipation had been lost. Fans left, Rodgers finished the show, and the day went on.

Yet perhaps the most significant segment of the show came after thousands of viewers had left the chat.

When asked about whether his Instagram post had a deeper meaning, Rodgers responded by saying, “There’s nothing cryptic about gratitude.” Fresh out of his Panchakarma and immersed in a state of reflection, Rodgers simply felt moved to share gratitude for the important people in his life.

Rodgers started by sharing the emotion that filled him when discovering the photo of Randall Cobb and Davante Adams with a space in between. The symbolic space for A-Rod during the week he missed against Kansas City due to his positive COVID test brought tears to Rodgers. He continued by sharing his gratitude for his teammates, close friends, Matt LaFleur, and Shailene Woodley.

Rodgers credited his success and gratitude to an equilibrium of happiness and peace at work and home. He stated that being content at both retracted from one being a “refuge.” The 38-year-old also posed the dilemma of the credit players’ spouses should receive when they themselves achieve success as opposed to the concept of serving as a distraction.

That’s sports psychology 101. Rodgers feels that he achieved new heights on the gridiron because his headspace is clear. Going into practice and games with a mindset of finding a higher peak on the mountain versus reaching the initial one is a byproduct of being at peace in all aspects of life.

And while the correlation is evident, Rodgers mentions the ability to compartmentalize as a key component to personal happiness and his level of play on the field.

Rodgers emphasized the importance of Woodley’s impact on him and how women who are connected to the NFL deserve more credit for the sacrifices they make. That was followed by an apology to those around him who were negatively affected by his controversial stance on COVID and vaccines.

That’s great and all. But the most important part is Rodgers’ perspective on life.

Wait, isn’t this the guy who everyone and their cousin hates?

It’s no secret that Aaron Rodgers has been chastised by pretty much everyone outside of Green Bay over the past year. Last season, what started as an offseason Netflix saga turned into a political frenzy midway through the 2022 NFL season.

Swap in Rodgers’ name with anyone else in the league, and the remarks made are ones of authenticity and morality. Yet as McAfee noted early in the interview, every word Rodgers speaks is turned from a puddle to a flood.

I’m not here to say that I agree with Rodgers on everything. I don’t. I strongly disagree with his takes on vaccinations, and I personally responded to COVID in a way that was completely different from how he did.

That is not the point.

Rodgers’ vulnerability to extend an olive branch to those who differ from him is something that unfortunately seems like a long-lost art. We live in a world that is ridiculously divisive in political, social, and emotional realms. As a professional athlete (and a very good one at that), Rodgers is constantly scrutinized for every decision he makes. For him to apologize and thank those who disagreed with him yet supported him over the last year is admirable.

I’m not here to make a political point. Instead, it’s essential to recognize that we need to learn to co-exist with those who differ from us as a society. Not agreeing with someone doesn’t mean that they are a horrible person. Compartmentalizing action from the person is important. Just because I think Rodgers’ take on vaccinations is foolish doesn’t mean I think that he’s a bad person. In fact, I admire quite a bit of the charitable work that Rodgers has done to benefit various communities in need.

Rodgers’ ability to show compassion, gratitude, and forgiveness to those around us is a skill worth investing in. Regardless of his Packer status come 2022, his demeanor and authenticity so far this offseason have provided enough food for thought to be content.

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Photo Credit: Mike De Sisti (The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports)

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