By Drew Stevens (@lookwhatdrewdid)
It’s as simple as this, Aaron Rodgers.
If you no longer want any part of an organization whose general manager has begun to dig your grave even as you continue to withstand the rigors of professional quarterbacking with flying colors, then you should most certainly look for a change of scenery. You see how well things are working out for Tom Brady after he ended his longterm relationship with New England, right?
He found greener — and far warmer — pastures in Tampa Bay. Now while it may be tempting to move across country where friendlier climates and your childhood favorite 49ers play, remember, that team blew its chance with you years ago. Besides, the coldest dish of revenge you could serve that bay green and cheese gold-colored front office would be aligning yourself with its sworn enemy, the Chicago Bears.
That’s how you retaliate against Brian Gutekunst, who had the audacity to trade up to select Jordan Love in last year’s NFL Draft, and head coach Matt LaFleur, who was a little too eager to co-sign that move and chose Mason Crosby’s leg, not your invaluable arm, when it mattered most. After all, when you have a chance to really stick it to your ex you don’t date a stranger. You round the bases with the best friend.
Think about it.
Not only would you move from the hallowed ground at Lambeau Field to that at Soldier Field, but you’d also go from being one of the city’s most hated visitors to one of its most beloved residents a la Dennis Rodman.
Plus, you love it here. Or at least that’s what I took from how you talked about the chills you feel before game time listening to both Jim Cornelison belt out the national anthem and Bears fans equally resounding reaction. “Those tingles over the years have made that place a really special environment,” you said in December. “And I do have a lot of respect for the organization, the fan base, their team.”
And we for you, albeit begrudgingly.
But you can’t really blame us for that though, can you? I mean, you did author a 35-16 beat down with your 240 yards and four touchdowns just a few days after speaking so highly of practically all things Chicago. Not to mention that was the 10th victory of your career in the Windy City in the 13 times you’ve played here. Hard feelings are even harder to shake when they’re mixed with the envy of watching your arch-rival swap one hall-of-fame signal caller for another while our carousel of mediocrity at that position continues to turn nonstop.
You can change that. You can rip that ride from its lousy rails. It’ll take some convincing, maybe even a little acting on your part. You’re pretty believable in those State Farm commercials. How good are you at faking or threatening retirement?
As far as compensation goes, tell Gutekunst we can offer the 20th overall pick in this year’s draft and future first-round picks in each of the next two as well. There figures to be a nice crop of blue chip offensive lineman this summer. Something for him to keep in mind given his franchise left tackle, David Bakhtiari, will be playing the rest of his career on a surgically-repaired knee. Also, considering how Kevin King had two touchdowns scored on him and drew a crippling defensive pass interference penalty that essentially robbed you of the chance to play in your second Super Bowl, it seems an upgrade at cornerback is in order. We’ve got a promising one in Jaylon Johnson he might be interested in, too.
If that package doesn’t move him, perhaps we can throw in the tag-and-trade of Allen Robinson. We’d much rather have the two of you here, but if we must sacrifice our most lethal offensive threat then so be it. You’re that special to us. Even today, just a handful of months from beginning your 17th year in the NFL.
Look. Breaking up is hard. There’s no two ways about it. But once you finish sopping up the best comfort food our city has to offer, you’ll adjust. You’ll see that while the sum of the Bears’ current weapons don’t yet compare to that of Davante Adams, Aaron Jones and Robert Tonyan, you’ve had far less to work with in your career than David Montgomery, Cole Kmet and Darnell Mooney.
None of this is to say you’d find the type of immediate success that Brady’s found with the Buccaneers. What it does mean is your arrival would, quite frankly, send an already rabid fanbase over the moon; push our mockery of a front office into credible standing; and our overworked defense into more favorable situations.
If nothing else, how satisfying would it be to flip the league’s oldest rivalry on its head, to force Gutekunst and LaFleur to forever rue the day they chose Love?
In Green Bay you had to escape the shadow of Brett Farve — who, against conventional wisdom, was cast out to the Jets of all teams after reaching near-deity status as a Cheeshead, his association with the Packers being the only one that can rival yours post-Bart Starr. Here, in Chicago, you’d cast a shadow as far as our franchise’s list of starting quarterbacks is long before you even threw your first pass in dark navy and orange.
The offseason is long. Our patience for a player your caliber has been woefully longer.
Just give it some thought.
I admit to a strange kind of fiery pessimism overwhelming my typically mild-mannered, if not contemplative, demeanor Saturday afternoon as I was embracing the idea of joining thousands of marchers in protest of George Floyd’s death and a still-unchanged system marred by years of police brutality toward black Americans.
If seeing another black person fall victim to senseless violence — just weeks after the shooting deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery — did not soften, and make more amenable, the collective heart of our country toward its need for unrelenting equality, or provoke substantial police reform and more stringent prosecution for antagonists in law enforcement, what exactly would yet more protests accomplish?
That style of retaliation had worn thin, I thought.
But, later that night and in the days that followed, I bore witness to protests that spread wider than could be imagined — from the streets of Chicago and New York to those of Paris, France and Sydney, Australia, by people from all walks of life marching peacefully while carrying signs that read “BLACK LIVES MATTER,” “I CAN’T BREATHE” and “STOP KILLING US” and chanting “Say his name — George Floyd!,” “Say her name — Breonna Taylor!” and “No justice, no peace!”
I saw Genesee County Sheriff Christopher Swanson forfeit his helmet and baton to march in lock-step with protesters in Michigan, and two players, Jadon Sancho and Achraf Hakimi, of Bundesliga, a professional soccer league in Germany, proudly unveil pre-written messages of “Justice for George Floyd” on their undershirts while celebrating goals.
I read of California governor Gavin Newsom imploring white America to take more ownership of, and responsibility for, the black community, and the unofficial greatest player in the history of the National Basketball Association, Michael Jordan — as tight-lipped in addressing socio-political issues off the court as he was a boisterous trash talker on it throughout his career — endorse systemic change and demand accountability in an 150+ word statement. I watched videos that captured the essence of humanity as people, bound by activism and neighborhood pride, worked together to erase the grimy footprint of opportunistic looters and would-be rioters in the predominantly black communities of Bronzeville, Englewood, South Shore, and Chatham.
And Wednesday, after an enormous groundswell of complaints, petitions and public outrage, Derek Chauvin’s initial charge of third-degree murder was elevated to a second-degree charge, with the other three now-former Minneapolis police officers — Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng — who were involved in Floyd’s death on May 25 also facing charges of aiding and abetting murder.
All four men face a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, according to criminal complaints, and Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for approximately nine minutes while Lane and Keung helped pin his lower body to the ground, still faces his initial third-degree and manslaughter charges, according to an amended complaint.
While these latest developments are encouraging, justice can only truly be measured in the convictions of those who do wrong. Such a thing is a respectable first step toward tangible change by an eventual established precedent of intolerance for the perpetuation of a system that has led to black Americans being shot and killed by police more than twice the rate as white Americans.
Anything short of Chauvin, Thao, Kueng, and Lane being prosecuted to the full extent of the law is sure to produce more civil unrest, continued judiciary mistrust and explosive responses to what would be considered further damning evidence of the lack of compassion and concern for black America.
Perhaps no amount of refashioning can entirely wipe clean the fabric of a country soaked in the blood, fear and presumed guilt of countless innocent Black lives. But I remain resolute in my hope that with continued public awareness, improved vetting of elected officials, and increased voter turnout at the state and local levels, we can begin to stitch new and decent threads into the American tapestry.