Monday, February 07, 2011

Aaron Rodgers Brings Lombardi Trophy Back to Titletown

Green Bay won the Super Bowl, but also something much more important. The biggest small town in the country won the biggest trophy in sports with character and true teamwork, with an ethos of draft and develop, with a locker room that reeks of amiability and small town friendliness.

A.J. Hawk said it best when he said that GB has a team that is unified, and there are no "bad guys" who turn the team into factions and spawn animosities and jealousies. We knew the AJ was talking about the TOs and Randy Mosses and other NFL superstars whose athletic prowess makes them believe themselves larger than the team itself. Even Pittsburgh had a couple of those locker room spasms last year when Roethlisberger was kept from playing with a concussion and Hines Ward implied that the 2SB-ring QB was somehow "soft." And Big Ben's missing the first four games due to offseason escapades also blotted the Steelerr's shining armor. Ditto his embarrassing situation when he had a motorcycle accident while not wearing a helmet.

Okay, Ben is a great QB, just not a paladin worthy of imitation. But a guy who might be such is Aaron Rodgers, who I must confess I didn't like or appreciate during the last two seasons from 2008 until this year, due to what I thought was an unfair s-canning of Brett Favre. After Brett abruptly quit after losing to the Giants at Lambeau at the NFC Championship game in 2007, I was mortified. When he changed his mind a couple of months later, I was very surprised, but not amazed. And when the Pack tried to buy him off with $20 million to never play again, and said that Rodgers was their QB, I was angry. Was this a way to pay back a QB who'd amassed Hall of Fame numbers? An icon for eagerness to play under injury and other conditions, including the death of his dad? When Brett was traded for the Jets, my unfavorite team, I started to want to see him succeed in the face of adversity one more time. But that and then the two singular seasons with the Vikings is the past.

Rodgers is the new Favre, or rather a suitable replacement. In his post-game interview on ESPN, he recalled the tough transition and thanked the Packer Front Office for their faith in himself. He had handled himself with consummate personal class and character, everyone will agree.

And the word "character" was the one used by Rodgers, Hawk, Coach McCarthy and everyone else, including team owner Murphy to describe both Rodgers and the rest of the team. No megalomaniacs in this locker room. Even Clay Matthews, arguably now the successor to Troy Polamalu as best defensive player in the NFL, was nowhere to be seen in the post-game interviews. Can you imagine a self-advertising Ochocinco or TO doing that if the Bengals had won. Does anyone wonder why the Bengals went into the sewer this year after all the hype with these two showboats' grabbing all the TV time they could?

'Nuff said. Suffice it to say that we may be seeing the start of the Fourth Era of Packers' domination as a contender or champion, succeeding the Lambeau Era of the thirties, the Lombardi Era of the Sixties, the Holmgren Era of the Nineties, and now perhaps the McCarthy Era of the Teens.

This was Green Bay's thirteenth NFL Championship and its Fourth Super Bowl Championship, putting it first in the NFL category and fourth in the SB category after Pittsburgh, Dallas, and the Forty-Niners. Steve Young, who had to get a monkey off his back after Montana retired, asked Rodgers last night if he felt the same way. Aaron politely declined to answer.

Character and class, that's the kind of guy he is. And outstanding in every physical department, including a cannon for an arm.

No comments :