The Packers made it official yesterday with a simple tweet: Packers place QB Aaron Rodgers on injured reserve & sign QB Joe Callahan.
What a kick in the junk for Packer fans. And what a brutal end the emotional rollercoaster that has been the last few weeks in Green Bay. At one point, it seemed ridiculous and impossible that Rodgers could come back in time to help the team reach the playoffs. Then it seemed like the team might not even be in a position where he could get them to the playoffs, even if he was healthy. Then they got in the position and he got healthy and on Saturday, the official twitter account posted: Aaron Rodgers has been activated from injured reserve.
Freaking party time in Green Bay. And they followed that up the next day with: He’s back. #gopackgo #riseagain
And not long after that, during the game: Welcome back, Aaron! @aaronrodgers12 finds @tae15adams for the 13-yard TD!
The first touchdown pass tied the game at 7 and his second one to Randall Cobb gave Green Bay the lead going into halftime. Those were heady times. It was all happening. The impossible was about to become possible. The Packers had their Hall of Famer back, they were leading the Panthers in Carolina, and Packer fan was feeling it.
And then it was all ripped away. The Panthers scored 14 straight in the third quarter, took the lead, never gave it back, and the Packers hopes went on life support. And the plug was ripped out on their chances when the Falcons won Monday night.
So the Packers made the announcement yesterday that Aaron Rodgers is done for the season, with head coach Mike McCarthy saying, “It’s what we felt was best for Aaron. He was sore, took a number of hits. We felt this was the best decision.”
He’s right. It is the best decision. Really, a very easy decision for Rodgers and for the team. You know he wants to be out there. You know he wants to battle, even if they can’t make the playoffs, but in the classic risk vs. reward calculation, there is no calculation. Because it’s all risk and no reward. There is one good reason why he should take another snap this season. And especially against a very good Vikings defense that busted him up in the first place and would be coming for him again.
And as McCarthy said on Monday, Rodgers was hit too many times against the Panthers, including a couple big shots. Rodgers would tell you those are worth it if he can get his team to the playoffs, and he’d probably tell you they’re worth it even if he has no shot of getting his team to the playoffs. But sometimes you have to protect your player from himself. Sometimes the hard decision is the right decision. Except this isn’t a hard decision. It’s an easy decision. The only decision.
There’s absolutely no reason to risk your quarterback and your franchise in two games that don’t matter for the playoffs. It was always going to be an incredible difficult task for Rodgers to come back with all that metal in his collarbone and lead them to the playoffs. That would mean beating the Panthers, Vikings, and Lions in three straight weeks. Nearly impossible, but if anyone could do it, it was Aaron Rodgers.
It didn’t happen, although not for a lack of effort on his part, both in rehab and on Sunday. But now, with the playoffs no longer in reach, you have to adjust. Sending him out there would be reckless, dangerous, and stupid. The smart play is to sit him down, let him go back to recovering, and getting ready for 2018.