By: Matt Bove
The Green Bay Packers have been getting a lot of gifts lately.
They have seen Minnesota, Atlanta and Dallas choke three huge leads against them. The Packers had a lot to do with it as well, but the ineptitude of those teams certainly helped. They also saw Justin Tucker hit an improbable game winning 61 yard field goal against Detroit, and Detroit also contributed to the Packers' cause by choking as well.
Somehow, after not winning a game for over a month, the Packers find themselves controlling their own destiny in the NFC North. It was thought that after seemingly being so close last week that quarterback Aaron Rodgers would finally be able to return from his broke collarbone Sunday against Pittsburgh. However, after still not being medically cleared yesterday and after watching practice in the media portion this afternoon, that would not appear to be the case.
I am certainly in no position to challenge Dr. Pat McKenzie's medical rulings. I am not a doctor and do not pretend to be one, so it would completely be unfair. However, I am allowed to have my own opinion, so I am going to do it anyways. I may be wrong, but I have also been wrong before of course.
If Aaron Rodgers think he can play and can physically do everything that he is accustomed to on the football field then he should be playing. The beat writers at yesterdays practice said that Rodgers looked sharp and was throwing with great velocity. I find what Mike McCarthy said in a Jason Wilde column last week very interesting.
"Frankly, I think if Aaron was asked the question he wants to play. He feels ready to play," said McCarthy. "Based on what he's accomplished physically and what he was able to do at practice on Wednesday and Thursday, he's ready to go. The hurdle that I know Aaron wanted to get over, he achieved it this week. He feels really good."
This was from last week too, so Rodgers has had even more rest time. So, if Rodgers is physically ready how on earth is he not out there for a season deciding game? Obviously, it is because Dr. McKenzie fears Rodgers breaking it again. Sorry, but every time Rodgers or anybody steps out on the field they have a chance to suffer an injury. They all know this and you cannot play scared.
Rodgers has been playing football since he was a little kid and this was the first time that he took a hit at the perfect spot to break his collarbone. How much risk is there of Rodgers re-breaking his collarbone? We obviously do not know, but if McKenzie is holding Rodgers out because say there is like a 10% chance of him re-breaking it that is being too conservative.
Rodgers is an extremely smart guy and knows his body and risks better than anybody. I completely understand taking the long term approach and get it. However, you have no idea if the Packers will be in a position to make a run at the Super Bowl next year or beyond. You would like to think that they will be able to with Rodgers, but you never know in the NFL.
The Packers find themselves in a position to be playing their best football at the bets time of the year and ride a huge wave of momentum into the playoffs. Other than Seattle, I do not see anybody in the NFC who doesn't have big weaknesses. the Packers have an opportunity to get the third seed and void them until the NFC Championship game. Also, the Packers should have beaten Seattle in the famous "Fail Mary" game in Seattle last year, so they're not incapable of winning there either.
This has been a very frustrating process for everybody involved and it continues to get even worse. As the Packers learned with Brett Favre you never know if you're going to get back to another Super Bowl. Wasting opportunities if there is little risk is a decision that deserves to be at least questioned.