After a messy offseason and looming public divorce between star QB Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, ex-teammates and NFL insiders alike have publicly speculated which team might be next for the reigning MVP.
Former NFL defensive back Will Blackmon, who played with Rodgers from 2006 to 2009 and claims to still have a good relationship with him, confidently speculated to TMZ Sports recently about a potential landing spot.
“Next year,” Blackmon said, “Aaron Rodgers will be a New Orleans Saint.”
The guess makes sense from the Saints’ perspective, given their sudden void at quarterback since the retirement of Drew Brees. This year, New Orleans head coach Sean Payton will have to straddle between a reclamation project in Jameis Winston and a utility player in Taysom Hill. While both players have shown flashes of brilliance in their careers, neither can touch the productivity and prowess of Aaron Rodgers, who at 38-years-old is still playing at the highest level. Playing in a dome with a massive home field advantage for a veteran coach might be the perfect recipe for Rodgers, who has had to fight the elements and years of head-scratching coaching while playing in Green Bay.
It wasn’t so long ago that a former MVP and Super Bowl Champion quarterback looking for his ‘last dance’ team would have been met with scoffs and eye rolls. After all, athletes on the farewell tour have long-hoped for that third act in a new environment, only to be steamrolled by Father Time—it just never worked out as intended either for the player or team, in any sport.
But as Tom Brady continues to impress well into his forties via dieting improvements and 21st century wellness practices, we may be entering a new era where the human body can actually withstand the torment of professional sports longer than before. If so, then the wily veteran who knows all of the tricks of the trade is about to become the most sought-after player on the team.
In fact, Rodgers might be entering his ‘second prime,’ a concept that never even existed just a decade ago; a situational fit like the Saints could be the perfect vehicle for Rodgers to play another four years at a level that young guns just can’t match mentally or emotionally.
If the idea of a ‘second prime’ really does start gaining steam, then we could be looking at a completely new approach to grooming franchise talent. Don’t forget, Rodgers spent his first few seasons in the league just learning under Brett Favre, not having to carry the weight of the franchise on his 23-year-old back and not taking massive hits that rapidly accumulate. How many rookies are going to start for NFL teams this season? More importantly, how many will still be playing in five years, once a new crop of kids shows up with the same impossible expectations to shoulder?
Instead of drafting lottery tickets who may pay off big or may just flame out, like teams attempt to do now, the game could move more towards patience and durability. The idea of a quarterback even hitting his prime in his twenties might become as outdated as the run-heavy offense.
There’s lots of talent in the league. The stars are the guys who learn to deal with the pressure, the fame, and the money while simultaneously staying healthy and getting better each year. Give me a young guy with a big arm who will take care of himself in his thirties but had to sit in his early twenties, and I’ll show you a ‘generational’ talent with multiple rings and a gold jacket waiting for him.
Success isn’t rocket science; it’s not really a science at all. It’s more akin to math: do the right things every day, take care of yourself physically and mentally, and beautiful opportunities will present themselves at the right times. It’s a formula that has never failed, and if we start respecting it more than trying to ‘game’ it with quick fixes and impossible requirements, it could produce some truly special results.