Rob Gronkowski has gladly played the role of the goofy, fun-loving jock that was a stock character of 1950s America but is rarely seen nowadays. One of the drawbacks of being that guy is not being taken seriously, but having made millions of dollars from it, Gronk doesn’t seem to care. He’ll take off his shirt and chug a beer, on command or not.
But the retired tight end is smart enough to see Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers for what he is. Gronkowski summed him up in one devastating comment the other day on FanDuel TV’s “Up & Adams.” Rodgers had done his weekly segment on Pat McAfee’s podcast, which is to fawning what a fire hose is to dousing. The question of his ability was broached.
“Do I still think I can play? Of course. Of course,’’ said Rodgers, 39. “Can I play at a high level? Yeah. The highest. I think I can win MVP again in the right situation. Right situation — is that Green Bay or is that somewhere else? I’m not sure, but I don’t think you should shut down any opportunity.”
He probably didn’t mean for his self-centeredness to come through, but self-centeredness has a bad habit of not being able to help itself. Gronkowski zeroed right in on that.
“I’m totally fine with everything he said except for one major part — and that’s the ‘MVP again,’ ” he said. “Bro, why are you thinking MVP? Don’t you want Super Bowls?”
And that’s the thing with Rodgers. The thing that galls. Too often, it seems to be all about him. There’s No “I’’ in Rodgers, but with some unscrambling, there is a “god.’’
He’s about to hold the sports world hostage again. He did it last year, teasing Packers fans with his should-I-stay-or-should-I-go drama. He finally signed a contract extension with the Pack for a ton of money, promised publicly he wanted to stay in Green Bay, had a down season and here we are, being subjected to a telenovela few people remember asking to stomach again.
If it is all about winning with Rodgers, he has a funny way of showing it. If there’s a consensus on the most-talented quarterback in the league, and possibly in the sport’s history, it’s Rodgers. Nobody has his combination of quick release and accuracy. His intellect and his 18 years of NFL experience mean he knows what the defense is going to do before the ball is snapped. He’s a joy to watch, provided you’re not a Bears fan. Yet, for all that, he has just one Super Bowl title to go with four MVPs. Yes, it is a team game, but the math doesn’t add up.
Part of the equation for being a winner involves more than physical ability. Rodgers spent the last several years on some sort of vision quest, which is fine until all you can see is yourself. Last offseason, he chose to live elsewhere besides Green Bay and missed voluntary workouts. His prerogative. But the Packers missed the playoffs and his offseason decisions haven’t been forgotten.
So now he’s pondering retirement again. Or not. We don’t know, and that’s the whole idea, the way it was last offseason when he kept everyone hanging. Did he want a trade then? Does he want one now? I’d advise not paying him any attention, but it’s difficult to do that when ESPN gives daily updates on what friends familiar with Rodgers’ thinking believe he had for breakfast. I picture him laughing as he controls the puppet strings.
Whether he stays or goes or retires, he won’t go quietly. It’s interesting that Rodgers and the Buccaneers’ Tom Brady, 45, figure to dominate the NFL headlines this winter, spring and summer. What Old and Older decide about next season will affect the decision-making of other teams and other quarterbacks. The intrigue appears to be as fun for them as the football.
Does Rodgers want to win another Super Bowl? Sure, but if his MVP comments are any indication, he wants another Super Bowl because it will add shine to his legacy.
Why he wants another title matters. If you’re playing for something bigger than yourself – your teammates, for example – it adds so much more value and meaning to everything you do to accomplish it. It might even make a star quarterback want to stay in town during the offseason and sweat with people who are working toward the same noble goal.
I’m braced for another long offseason of Rodgers “news.’’ What famous person is he dating now? Where is he vacationing? What substance is he ingesting to achieve self-realization?
I don’t remember asking about any of this. I don’t get the sense Rodgers cares.