The issues plaguing Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will be dissected and re-dissected until they string together a few inspiring victories.* I have my own theories about how the Packers can turn things around, but those ideas are no more insightful than the hot takes (Fire Mike McCarthy! Bench Rodgers!) that will be bandied about this week. So instead of jumping on the hot take train I’m going to use the struggles of the Packers as an important reminder that sports teams exist to entertain us.
*If the Packers lose to the Chicago Bears on Thursday night we might need to hide in an underground bunker until things blow over.
Few things annoy me as much as the “if you don’t win a championship, you failed” mentality that’s so prevalent amongst sports fans. The Packers are unlikely to win a championship this season, but they are currently failing to accomplish their most fundamental task: creating a pleasant three hour diversion.
A mind-boggling multitude of things must happen for a team to win a title, and that’s without accounting for dumb luck. Indeed, even the very best teams require a lucky break somewhere along the way achieve the ultimate goal – the lone exception being the 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers football team. (Seriously, look at their game-by-game results.) Winning championship is basically a miracle, but performing at a level that’s worth watching should be a given. This leads to an important point.
Some of the very best, iconic, and entertaining Packers teams did not win the Super Bowl. Arguably the best regular season team in franchise history – the 2011 Packers – did not even win a playoff game. That abrupt ending was a punch to the gut, but I would strongly prefer to relive that season instead of what we’ve watched for the past calendar year. At the very least, the 2011 Packers were a reliable source of entertainment. The same can be said for the Championship-free teams of 1995, 1998, 2003, 2007, et al.
This is not to say the Packers will be frustrating to watch for the rest of this season, or that Aaron Rodgers is washed up, or that we’re entering a 1970s-esque era of underwhelming Packers football. What I am saying is that journey is more important than the destination. Whether or not Walley World is closed for repairs is secondary: the drive to the amusement park should always be exciting.
The Packers will turn it around at some point. They are one of the most competently managed organizations in professional sports and Aaron Rodgers too talented to sustain this underwhelming level of performance forever. This turnaround will happen, and when it does make sure to remember this aggravating stretch of football; where every first down was like pulling teeth and each touchdown felt like some happy accident. This will remind us that while falling short of a title is bad, some things are much, much worse.