Aaron Rodgers is playing with a renewed exuberance this year, and it’s paying off in spades so far for the Green Bay Packers.
When the Green Bay Packers selected quarterback Jordan Love out of Utah State with their first-round pick in this year’s draft, narratives about Aaron Rodgers and his relationship with the franchise became the flavor of the month for everyone in the NFL media and fandom. That wasn’t a surprise, of course, given Rodgers’s status as maybe the best quarterback in Green Bay’s storied lineage at the position and Love’s still-developing abilities, among other factors.
One of the prevailing storylines, or possibly an idyllic dream for Packers fans, was that Rodgers would become an almost vengeful machine, turning his frustration with Green Bay into the fuel he needs for a world-beating comeback tour. Maybe that’s what he needed, the thought process goes, to bring back the aura of the earlier parts of his career, when he seemingly did no wrong and could carry the Packers to wins no matter what adversity they faced.
There’s no doubting that that’s still a viable scenario. He’s admitted that he wasn’t thrilled with the Love pick.
But there’s more to it than simply balling out as a mutually beneficial form of revenge. He explained as much on The Pat McAfee Show this week.
Why is @AaronRodgers12 having so much fun?
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) September 22, 2020
While it may not be completely fair to apply the classic “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life” trope to what Rodgers is feeling right now, this speech he delivered to Pat McAfee and A.J. Hawk shows that the 16-year veteran is loving the game in a different way this year that is bringing him more joy.
On a human level, isn’t that something we all strive for? To do something that brings us happiness?
Aaron Rodgers doesn’t need us to wax poetic about his career story. He isn’t exactly the same underdog that he was when he was barely recruited out of high school or when he languished in the green room at the 2005 NFL draft. Still, there’s something serene about seeing someone who has been in the game so long and accomplished so much find his happiness again and get enjoyment out of what he does.
His quote to McAfee about his new mindset is particularly poignant.
I have just a new and increased love of life. And I made decisions and changes and habits that put me in a lot better headspace. And there’s just a lot of things that have come together in my life over the last few months that have really been enjoyable and reminded me, and given me perspective, on life and in football, to view things through the most positive lens I possibly can.
Again, this is the kind of perspective that many, if not most, people hope to find in life.
For football reasons, this new realization is clearly imperative to Green Bay’s success. It’s not a coincidence that his happiness and positive outlook is a big reason why the Packers have been historically good on offense through the first two weeks of the season.
Aaron Rodgers: PFF’s highest-graded player through W2 🏆 pic.twitter.com/eMlla3ruNK
— PFF (@PFF) September 22, 2020
This is the kind of positive energy that rubs off on both teammates and fans. Players feed off the energy from their leaders, and that’s been on display from the jump this year (not to discredit the incredible work the rest of the Packers have put in, too). And fans can appreciate this new attitude, both because it contributes to wins and it brings out the personality that has endeared (at least some) fans to him for over a decade as a starting quarterback.
It’s hard to picture the Rodgers of recent vintage showing this much positive emotion during a game. It’s hard to picture him doing a weekly spot with an oddball show like McAfee’s, too. That was the old 12, though, one that clearly didn’t appreciate these moments like he does now.
Inevitably, fans and other followers will try to pick apart every little detail of his description. Which changes in his personal life are making him view things differently? How much does it all tie back to Love and the front office?
It doesn’t matter what he’s referring to, though. What does matter is that he’s obviously feeling better than he has in some time. When the Packers look at their start to the season, the stats they’re putting up and the heads they’re turning through two games, they can’t possibly be anything but pleased with this new revelation for Aaron Rodgers.