Aaron Rodgers wins 4th MVP, says he has not made decision yet on future
INGLEWOOD, Calif. — On July 26, there was a report that Aaron Rodgers planned to play the 2021 season for the Green Bay Packers. On July 27, Rodgers reported for training camp.
For the three months before that, we had no idea if Rodgers' Packers career was over. People wondered if he'd instead host "Jeopardy!" There were reports on draft day that the Denver Broncos were close to landing him in a trade. That deal never happened, but after Rodgers indicated in the spring that he didn't want to be in Green Bay anymore, it seemed if Rodgers won a second straight MVP it would be with another team. Or he'd be reading "Daily Double" questions on your TV.
After Rodgers reported to the Packers, he did what he usually does and that's play at the highest level of the sport. On Thursday at the annual NFL Honors show, Rodgers was announced as the NFL MVP.
That's his fourth MVP award, second-most all time. Peyton Manning, who announced him as the winner on stage, holds the record with five MVP awards.
This MVP season had the most unlikely road of the four, with another postseason failure and another round of uncertainty about Rodgers' future. He said after winning the award he had not made a decision but would do so in the "near future."
"To be honest I’ve just been easing into the offseason and excited to be here tonight," Rodgers told reporters. "It feels like a dream.
"I’ll make a decision in due time, and not in a ton of time. I’ll give the team plenty of time to do what they’ve got to do. ... I’m not going to keep a lot of people waiting."
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Rodgers did say there was a lot of growth in the relationship between him and the Packers organization, and he singled out his relationship with general manager Brian Gutekunst. He said many things were done to make him feel "special" to the organization. He still didn't tip off his decision.
"I don’t fear retirement. I don’t fear moving on," Rodgers said. "I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished … I’m excited about the future whatever that ends up being or looking like. I’m also still highly competitive and there’s a bitter taste from the divisional game."
Rodgers had a line in his acceptance speech, as he thanked the Packers and fans, that will be dissected before he makes his decision.
"It's been an amazing 17 years," Rodgers said during his acceptance speech. "So thankful for the memories and moments over the years."
Aaron Rodgers had another amazing season
The Packers' season started miserably with a 38-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints. It was fair to wonder if the offseason distractions played a part.
Then the Packers became the NFL's best team in the regular season and Rodgers was the best player. Rodgers eventually passed Tom Brady for the MVP lead and the Packers went 13-4. Rodgers had an unbelievable 37-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio, right after posting a 48-5 ratio last season while winning MVP. Rodgers putting up 85 touchdowns and nine interceptions over a two-season span is something that might not happen again for a long time, if it ever does. Rodgers hasn't thrown more than eight interceptions in a season since 2010.
Rodgers also had plenty of off-field headlines. He misled media about his COVID-19 vaccination status, then missed a game against the Kansas City Chiefs after he tested positive. He frequently spoke on COVID-19, vaccinations and even questioned the validity of the 2020 presidential election.
Sharing his political views made Rodgers a target for more criticism than usual when the Packers flamed out again in the playoffs. Green Bay's offense bogged down in a 13-10 divisional-round loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Since winning Super Bowl XLV, Rodgers' Packers haven't been back to the Super Bowl and they're 7-9 in the playoffs. The lack of another Super Bowl trip has led some to question Rodgers' legacy and his place among the all-time greats.
But MVP is a regular season award, and there was no doubt by the end of the season that Rodgers would win it. Usually we'd start talking about Rodgers' chances of joining (ironically) Brett Favre as the only player to win MVP three times in a row, but we have no idea what Rodgers' plans are for next season.
What's next for Rodgers?
The Rodgers speculation began as soon as the Packers' season ended. It's reminiscent of (ironically) Favre's annual dalliance with retirement for the last portion of his career.
"I did not think we would be talking about this after this game, but I'm going to take some time and have conversations with the folks around here and then take some time away and make a decision," Rodgers said after the 49ers loss.
By the end of the season, Rodgers' relationship with the Packers seemed much better, but as the late former GM Ted Thompson reportedly said about Rodgers, he's a "complicated fella." Rodgers could request a trade, and plenty of teams need quarterbacks. It's not often a reigning MVP might be available, even if he'll be 39 next season.
Rodgers could also retire. He's nearing 40 and has expressed thoughts on topics far outside of the football realm in the past year. It hasn't been discussed publicly but anything with Rodgers seems to be on the table.
The only thing that's certain is Rodgers is still at the top of his game. He has a fourth MVP award to prove it.