Rick Reilly Again? Rick Reilly Again.

With a Super Bowl in the bag, Aaron Rodgers has taken on a Jesus-like role in Rick Reilly’s imagination.

In 50 years, when they write Rodgers’ life story, they won’t praise so much his freakish arm.

Well, actually, that’s probably one of the things “they” will praise.

They won’t write about his Houdini feet.

Freshly cut from the corpse of Harry himself! When you’re a professional athlete, you really can buy anything.

They won’t go on about his grace under pressure, his rifle-scope accuracy or his courage while the land around him burned.

Sorry, did I say Jesus? I meant Mad Max.

No, they’ll write about his unlimited capacity to forgive.

Check that. Still Jesus.

Through all the hell Brett Favre put him through, through all the yo-yoing Favre did with Rodgers’ career all those years, Rodgers never lost his patience. He never lashed out. Instead, he forgave and got to work.

Timeline time!

2005: Rodgers is drafted 24th overall.

2005-06 season: Rodgers backs up Favre.

2006-07 season: Rodgers backs up Favre. Favre makes sounds like he might retire after the season.

2007-08 season: Favre decides not to retire. Rodgers backs up Favre.

2008-09 season: Favre “retires”; Rodgers becomes the starter.

The only thing I can conclude based on this is that Rick Reilly has never seen a yo-yo in his life.

One year — one fucking year — of not-retirement. That’s “all the yo-yoing Favre did with Rodgers’ career all those years.” Really, Reilly? He “forgave” Brett Favre for continuing to play in the NFL? Remember, this is Brett Favre Retirement Bullshit 1.0. Rodgers didn’t have to deal with the Favre retirement drama in New York or Minnesota.

Aaron Rodgers is an awesome quarterback — in my opinion, the best quarterback in the NFL. I think he’s totally great and deserves all the credit in the world for winning the Super Bowl. So why can’t we just praise him for being the fucking man? What is this bullshit? How many backup quarterbacks in the NFL do you hear bitching publicly about the guy ahead of them not having retired yet? I never once heard Tarvaris Jackson whine to the media about Brett Favre, and Tarvaris Jackson’s entire career has been torpedoed by that self-loving media whore. In fact, outside of some wide receivers, very few NFL players tend to bitch publicly about playing time — mostly because they know football is a team sport, and also that their coaches would rain the fucking fire of god (that is to say, the fucking fire of Aaron Rodgers) down on them if they did that.

If patience and forgiveness had anything to do with success in the NFL, Pope John Paul would have been a fucking beast.

Fast-forward to the biggest moment of his life — Super Bowl XLV — and teammates started turning on him again.

Memo to present and future NFL players: Every time you fuck up, you’re turning against your teammates. Just remember that.

They started dropping the ball. Literally.

Not figuratively? No? Are you certain? Okay. Just making sure. Fine. Moving on.

Five different perfect passes went begging.

But Jesus was there to lift them up and take the sins of humanity upon himself!

The main perpetrator, though, was Jordy Nelson, a third-year kid who dropped not one … not two … but three wide-open, room-service, pretty-as-you-please passes.

But did Rodgers lose patience with him? Did he lash out?

I submit that he did not.

No, he did something more amazing.

What’s more amazing than losing patience and lashing out? Off the top of my head, everything.

With the game in the balance and Pittsburgh trying to pull off the greatest come-from-behind Super Bowl win, Nelson dropped a spiral that could’ve iced the game.

Anybody else might’ve bit a hole in his helmet.

Like who, for example? Who, with the lead in the Super Bowl, would do that?

It’s the end of the fucking Super Bowl. Nelson — who has normally been pretty reliable — dropped a pass. What the fuck are you going to do, stand around and chew him out or go and fucking try to win the game? Do most quarterbacks just stop playing and go beat the shit out of any receiver who drops a pass in the final five minutes of a game? Somehow I didn’t hear about this.

What did Rodgers do? He threw the very next pass to him. He ignored his safety-valve receiver and waited for Nelson to cross.

Tell me “waited for Nelson to cross” isn’t a thinly veiled Jesus reference.

It kind of sounds like Rodgers’ great miracle of forgiveness is running the play that the coaches drew up the way that the coaches drew it up. Why, Reilly, do you feel the compulsive need to add this extra mysticism to things? It’s quite common in the NFL for a coach to call another play for a normally reliable receiver after a dropped pass. That’s called “coaching.” It really has nothing to do with Aaron Rodgers at all except that Rodgers is the one who executed the play.

Oh, and a safety-valve receiver is there in case a play gets blown up or everyone else is covered. Not throwing to him — or, in Reilly’s words, “ignoring” him — is not a particularly amazing feat. In fact, it’s not even an average feat. It’s not a fucking feat at all. It’s a pretty typical NFL play.

But why am I surprised? Rick Reilly’s entire career has always been about adding meaningless moral lessons to sporting events. Aaron Rodgers isn’t just a champion — he’s a savior! Who else could have saved Jordy Nelson from being brutally dismembered by Aaron Rodgers but Aaron Rodgers?

This time, Nelson’s hands were true. He caught it for a colossal first down. Two plays later, Green Bay scored the winning touchdown.

If he dropped the ball and the Steelers won, would this article be about Aaron Rodgers’ stubbornness? I say yes.

To err is human. To forgive is divine.



Rick Reilly Turns Favorites Into Underdogs

Sweet Jesus, Rick Reilly, what?

You root for the Green Bay Packers in this Super Bowl because Steelers fans want their team to win but Packers fans need their team to win. They need it like air.

That’s right. The entire town of Green Bay has been asphyxiating since 1996. Won’t somebody please help the children!

You root for the Packers in this Super Bowl because Green Bay is the last little town to keep its team. You want it for Decatur, Ill., which lost its team to Chicago, and Portsmouth, Ohio, which lost its to Detroit, and Pottsville. Pa., which lost its to Boston. You root for the Packers for the same reason you root for Roberto Benigni to win the Oscar or Buster Douglas to win the fight. It’s right.

Holy shit. The Packers are the scrappy underdogs here? They’re the David Eckstein of this situation? They’re favored to win, for fuck’s sake.

Also, is Roberto Benigni really that holy to our society?

In Green Bay, you can also buy cheese top hats, cheese sombreros, cheese ties, cheese earrings, cheese footballs, cheese bricks, cheese beer cozies, cheese sunglasses, cheese flying discs and, naturally, cheese fezzes.

Green Bay: a place where you can buy a lot of cheese-shaped shit that’s made in China. Go Packers!

Do they wear steel beams in Pittsburgh?

Should they?

You root for the Packers in this Super Bowl because every now and then the game needs to have on top the little team nobody can seem to hate.

You know that this is a $750 million sports franchise, not a pee wee baseball team, right?

You root for the Packers in this Super Bowl because of Ouida Wright and her boyfriend, who never dreamed being homeless in Green Bay would be lucky.

Because it’s not.

They were on the street when the Dallas Convention and Visitor’s Bureau sent a “mystery” man out, waiting for someone to address him with the secret phrase: “Have you been to Dallas lately?” Wright heard about it, said it to the right guy and now she’s going to the Big Bowl with her boyfriend. Hotel, tickets, flights–everything paid.

You can just feel that in Rick Reilly’s mind, this whole thing has been completely romanticized. The mystery man, tired after a long day of no one telling him the secret passcode, was on his way to grab a hot dog when he tripped over Ouida as she was sleeping in her usual spot by the 7-Eleven under a makeshift blanket partially woven from discarded taquito wrappers. She awoke as she normally does: by clutching at the jacket of the person nearest her and screaming “HAVE YOU BEEN TO DALLAS LATELY?” in his face. Amazed at the unlikelihood of the whole thing, he awarded her a trip to the Super Bowl and helped her get discovered as the most talented jazz flutist in the history of the state of Wisconsin.

But no, she probably heard about the contest on the radio or something, then went over Visitor’s Bureau way to look for the guy and tell him the secret phrase.

Yes, when they come back to Green Bay from watching the Packers play in the Super Bowl, they still won’t have anywhere to live.

What’s your point?

I guess it’s that going to the Super Bowl is less important than having somewhere to live. What’s your point?