Through the 0-4-1 November, reality hit the Green Bay Packers like a sledgehammer. Mike McCarthy could no longer avoid mentioning Aaron Rodgers to his team. Multiple players admitted losing the quarterback "exposed" flaws on the roster. Very soon it became obvious the Packers were, indeed, overly reliant on No. 12. Hey, that's not a bad thing. Sure beats the Dark Ages. Entire franchises endure 10, 15 years of putrid quarterback play. But if 2013 told us anything, it's that the Packers go only as far as Rodgers takes them. And, don't blink, Rodgers is entering his seventh season as the Packers' starter. So how long will he be this good — Super Bowl MVP good, league MVP good — before the shine starts to wear off? Two years? Three? Seven? There's no hard-line theory. The quarterback's style of play is one factor. In Green Bay, the Packers should let Rodgers be Rodgers and cross their fingers. Sustaining an All Pro level of play is not easy. "It's really hard," said former NFL MVP Rich Gannon. "That's what's so amazing about Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. It's hard not to have a season where maybe there's a turnover spike a little bit or you lose your starting receiver, your starting running back or you have issues on the offensive line and your production falls off. Or maybe you play with a defense that's going through a transition. "It's hard to have sustained success. It's not how the league is being built these days. That's why it's really incredible when you see a team that can maintain it — particularly an individual at that position — that can maintain it over a long period of time." Seems like pitchfork-waving fans were just asking Ted Thompson to sign a "petition" to bring Brett Favre back. Suddenly, Rodgers is 30 years old. He's the longest-tenured Packer. His game is not eroding in the least bit. But the fractured collarbone was a sobering reminder of what can derail any quarterback. Injuries. Manning and Brady have started a combined 27 pro seasons. When they were supposed to wither, supposed to ease into broadcasting careers, they led their teams to the AFC Championship Game. "When you continue to do that," Gannon said, "then you're talking about a transformational player." So here's the catch. One reason Manning and Brady are still throwing for 40-plus touchdowns is that they don't stray from the pocket. Under the NFL's bubble-boy rules, Manning doesn't absorb nearly as much abuse as Rodgers. As a Steve Young.
Aaron Rodgers' collarbone injury raises question of longevity
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Feb 5