Supposedly, there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I think after number two, I went straight to number five.
Let’s face it Packer fans, it appears the Aaron Rodgers era in Titletown is over. It’s ending two or three years prematurely, but it’s ending. There is too much solid reporting from credible, long time football reporters to believe there is any chance for reconciliation between Rodgers and Brian Gutekunst.
When Bob McGinn reports that Rodgers secretly refers to Gutey as Jerry Krause (the longtime Bulls GM who famously lost Michael Jordan’s respect) to his buddies on the team, it’s difficult to see a partnership continuing.
Gutey’s mistake was a lack of communication and a failure to understand how best to deal with the fragile relationship a team will have with an all-time great. Yes, he should have kept Rodgers in the loop when he decided to draft Jordan Love, even if that choice was made as the draft was unfolding. He should have cared more about fringe roster decisions that might irritate Rodgers.
It’s not about coddling a superstar, it’s about understanding what makes him tick and working with him in a way that will ensure that as long as he is healthy and playing at a high level, it would be the organization, not the superstar, that would determine when it would be time to move on.
Rodgers is an unusual guy for an all-world athlete. He has many disparate interests; he is always on a quest to learn and try new things. His back story: forced to start at a junior college because no big schools came calling, the notorious plunge on draft day, have molded him into a man who feels self-made, who has had to fight for respect throughout his life and now feels he has earned the right to be, to paraphrase a song from Hamilton, in the room where it happens. Like Brady is, like Jordan was.
And now he has dug in. It would be nice to hear it from his own lips, but reliable sources say he won’t return as long as Gutekunst is running the show. Sure, the Pack could call his bluff and dare him to retire. Let this drama play out through the summer. But I think they will slowly reach stage five, like I have. They’ll admit privately that they didn’t handle things as well as they should have and they will swallow hard and trade him to the AFC, likely Denver, Las Vegas or Miami.
None of us were ready for this. We all wanted a couple more swings at the Super Bowl. Instead, it’s time to reach stage five. And hope that Love will find a way.