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.
BUY — Blackhawks Exert Some Strength In Weekend Sweep
From being on the wrong side of history to open the season to making the record books for the right reason, what a difference a week has made for the Blackhawks.
Not only did the Hawks (2-3-1) complete a two-game sweep of Detroit, but Pius Suter became just the second player in franchise history to score the first three goals of his career in the same game during Sunday’s 6-2 clubbing of the Red Wings. Bill Kendall was the first Hawk to accomplish the historic hat trick in 1933.
Connor Murphy, Mattias Janmark and Phillipp Kurashev also scored.
In all, the Hawks have scored 10 goals over the last two games. This after recording only nine goals through their first four contests and going three games into the season without a point for the first time since 1997-98. They’ve also scored at least one power-play goal in each of their first six games. That’s the first time they’ve done so since 1990-91.
Adding to the sudden influx in optimism is the presumptive end to the merry-go-round of net minders deployed by head coach Jeremy Colliton. After piling up 30 saves in his first-career win in the series opener, Kevin Lankinen made another 25 stops in goal Sunday. Lankinen now has a save percentage of .948 in the last two games.
The Hawks will play a pair of two-game sets this week, beginning Tuesday at Nashville before returning home to host Columbus.
HOLD – Bears Tap Desai For Defensive Rejuvenation
Sean “Doc” Desai doesn’t need to do a deep-dive into what hamstrung the Bears defense last season.
As the longest-tenured coach at Halas Hall, the newly promoted defensive coordinator (and Ph.D. holder, thus the nickname) saw its flaws — an underwhelming pass rush and an in-opportunistic secondary — firsthand. Still, there’s a distinct difference between recognizing and remedying those shortcomings.
That Desai, believed to be the first Indian American to hold this high a position in the NFL, was mentored by the last great bastion of a ball-hawking Bears defense, Vic Fangio, is a step in the right direction toward the latter. Him figuring out how to make Robert Quinn look more like the edge rusher he was brought here to be or Eddie Jackson the playmaker he was three years ago will be several more.
It also wouldn’t hurt for a defensive unit who grows longer in the tooth with each sputtering possession from their offensive counterparts, to not be forced to take so many snaps.
That’s to say the Bears have many questions to answer ahead of next season — particularly on the other side of the ball. The 37-year-old Desai can’t address them all.
Cubs/White Sox on Hank Aaron’s Passing
Henry Aaron was your all-time great’s all-time great.
He was “Hammerin’ Hank,” the slugger who batted in 2,297 runs, collected 6,856 bases and shattered Babe Ruth’s home run record while bigots tried — and failed — to break him.
Aaron’s death Friday, two weeks before his 87th birthday, broke the hearts of many people around the game of baseball, within the sports community and entire country at-large.
Cubs and White Sox players, both past and present, took to social media to pay their respects.
A tweet from Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo read, “An American hero and baseball legend. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of Mr. Aaron’s family and friends. I am proud every day to wear #44.”
Another from Sox shortstop Tim Anderson read, “Thank You! You opened it up for a kid like me to be myself in this tough game. Forever grateful for that and Always will be just that…”
Former Cubs Cy Young Award winning pitcher and Hall-of-Famer Fergie Jenkins tweeted, “Saddened to say today I lost one of my heroes, Henry Aaron. I was so Happy when I saw a man of color break the home run record. A great man both on and off the field. I send my love to the Aaron family.”
In a video tweeted from the Sox’s Twitter account, Hall-of-Fame first baseman Frank Thomas called Aaron a rock star among rock stars and recounted the reaction of native Georgians to Aaron passing Ruth on the all-time home run list in April of 1974.
In the words of the Sox organization, “Baseball has lost a titan.”