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Aaron Rodgers Gets To Do This All Over Again Next Year

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 16: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers reacts before the NFC Divisional Playoff game against the Los Angeles Rams at Lambeau Field on January 16, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Floating harmlessly among the other sporting detritus of the early week was the return of Aaron Rodgers to the Green Bay Packers as a triumph of down-road can-kicking. Hey, it’s a strategy.

Rodgers is in Packers camp, and while we’d like to provide you with a reading on his mood, we don’t really care that much. He wanted to be traded  by using what leverage he had, cementheaded general manager Brian Gutekunst refused by using what leverage he had, and now we’re left with what looks like one final victory lap for the quarterback in exchange for a victory lap for the team. And they’ll hate each other out in the open tomorrow.

It was hard to have a rooting interest on either side, since the battle quickly descended from who gets input on the roster and who doesn’t to mutually assured loathing in a barbed-wire stalemate in which the only winners would have been the Bears, Lions, and Vikings if they were capable of taking advantage, which of course they’re not. So Rodgers and the Packers settled on the only result that would keep either party from beating the other to death: delaying the F-you-and-everything-you-stand-fors for a year.

Now the question you’re asking is, “Should I care?” And the answer, as you surely deduced in your endless quest for greater powers of deducement, is “no.” Rodgers was easier to root for based on the fact that his is the body taking the result of Gutekunst’s judgments, but he never really looked properly victimized. And Gutekunst didn’t seem to mind not being the popular favorite, realizing that nobody roots against a host of Jeopardy!.

But everyone seemed to understand that Rodgers was working uphill in his attempt to win a new job, and as long as Gutekunst could out-stubborn Rodgers this would end with a negotiation in which both sides lost a bit of face in the attempts to kick each other in the ass. The Packers got another year to make Jordan Love serviceable (or find another Jordan Love), and Rodgers got another year and then finality (or Let’s Make A Deal). They each won another year of tenuous status quo, which unless Rodgers goes against type and self-interest and decides to start throwing games out of spite means they delayed the inevitable.

And in this case, the inevitable includes Rodgers guessing wrong on the team he’ll believe he can lead to glory (i.e., Denver, Philadelphia, Las Vegas or most hilariously, Dallas), and a left-behind NFC North that will likely produce worse results in 2022 than the NFC East did in 2020 if only because there are four more games available to lose, and at least one and as many as four new general manager jobs coming open for 2023. I think we can all work with that psychically.