This cheese-loving Wisconsin native ain’t no bandwagoner; I bleed green and gold. So naturally I was thrilled to witness the Green Bay Packers defeat the Seattle Seahawks in the division playoff Sunday, despite the signature nail-biting Packers’ fourth quarter, wherein they either forfeit any gains they’ve made the rest of the game or deliver some “clutch,” game-sealing plays. This season’s 14-3 record thankfully has brought more of the latter.
While I’m delighted the Packers beat the Seahawks, watching Aaron Rodgers beat Russell Wilson — not so much. You hate to see it.
Not that we don’t love Rodgers for his raw talent, of which he possesses plenty. But I’ve never quite bought into the idea that ability condones conceit, and while it isn’t my place to say whether Rodgers is a narcissist, others close to him have said just as much.
Fox Sports analyst and former Packers receiver Greg Jennings described Rodgers as “a guy who has one of the highest IQs in football, who believes he knows just about everything, if not all of everything.”
“When Aaron became ‘The Man,’ he was ‘The Man’, especially in his own eyes,” said another former Packer, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, who witnessed close-up the passing of the QB torch from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers in 2008. “Between Brett and Aaron — and I’m just being honest here so do what you want with this — with everything that Brett accomplished, you would think he’d be a little more arrogant, but he was actually more humble. And I felt that Aaron was a little bit more on the arrogant side. … [F]rom the time [Rodgers] arrived to the time he became a starter, I felt that he changed, and it wasn’t for the better.”
Rodgers changed in other ways as well, abandoning the values of his upbringing to embrace a more progressive worldview, which Mina Kimes documented in an ESPN profile of the quarterback that left readers with a lingering sense of emptiness and melancholy for the man.
Of course, Rodgers’ attitude doesn’t really matter. Nor does his rumored estranged relationship with his family or his flitting around with celebrity girlfriends. We’re here to watch football and eat cheese curds, after all.
When juxtaposed with Seattle’s Russell Wilson, however, fawning over #12 just feels wrong.
My Hallelujah belongs to YOU. #AllForYourGlory 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) April 16, 2019
Wilson, who has been outspoken about his faith, made headlines in 2015 with his now-wife Ciara for their commitment to abstinence during their dating relationship. The Seahawks quarterback still visits the kids as Seattle Children’s Hospital every Tuesday, even after having become the NFL’s highest-paid player and leading his team to victory in Super Bowl XLVIII.
“I think that it’s bigger than just the game. It’s a lot bigger than that,” Wilson said of his hospital visits, giving special recognition to the nurses and doctors he watches administer patient care week after week. As a father of two, he says it hits close to home.
His Instagram, and the Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Twitter, overflow with images of young patients experiencing brighter days because of Wilson’s outreach. While Aaron’s instagram overflows with images of Aaron.
Frida wasn’t just ecstatic when @DangeRussWilson surprised her with a pink, autographed football – she was over the moon! Forever grateful for the excitement, hope and laughter he brings our patient families with his weekly visits. pic.twitter.com/lfRO446Jup
— Seattle Children's (@seattlechildren) October 3, 2018
But despite Aaron Rodgers’ many personality flaws, his still represents the community-owned, small town, Midwest tradition that is Green Bay Packer football. He still feels like home. And since we’re here to watch football, not judge character, we can still rejoice when the better team triumphs over the better man.
The Packers’ 28-23 win over the Seahawks at Lambeau sends them off to battle the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium for the conference championship this Sunday. Regardless of Aaron Rodgers’ arrogance and other character flaws, I do wish him safety as he navigates the syringe-strewn streets of San Fran and takes the field of anthem-kneeling legend Colin Kaepernick’s former glory.
Go Pack, go!