The decision for an athlete to step away from a game they love and that they have trained for their entire life is never easy. Robert Smith notes that it’s especially difficult for an elite athlete such as Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is mulling this decision again this offseason.
“I think with a guy like Aaron, especially with the way the season went, the way the season ended, you know, with the loss to Detroit, missing out on the playoffs, it can be different reasons,” Smith said.
“But I think for a quarterback, especially a guy like Aaron, thinking about his legacy, for him, it’s got to be extremely difficult.”
The NFL has a poignant, recent example to compare Rodgers’ situation to.
“In listening to Tom Brady this week talk about his retirement, I thought this was just amazing and something that I hadn’t really thought about,” Smith said. “This is something specific to the quarterback position. He said, ‘You have no idea how good it feels to make the throw exactly the way that you want to make that throw.’
“And the analogy that he used was a golf, hitting a 7-iron pure and saying, ‘Man, that feels good.’ And he said, ‘You know, no matter what happens, I’m going to keep throwing footballs.’ He said it’s just not going to be under the lights and in front of the crowds.”
This has to be something a fellow quarterback who is as polished as Rodgers is surely can relate to.
“I think for a guy like Aaron Rodgers, that’s got to be part of it as well, because he’s one of those players I’ve seen place balls in a way that I didn’t see anybody else do it,” Smith said. “I mean, a truly surgical performance is tough to watch as a Vikings guy. But just he’s one of those guys that I’m sure that’s part of the equation for him.
“He’s just thinking, ‘Do I really want to step away and not be able to display a gift that I have, that very few people have in the world, but that I do better than anybody else or almost anybody else?’
“So I think just the pure experience, and the pure execution of seeing the blitz and knowing which guy is going to break open, anticipating it, and then making that perfect throw. For a guy like Aaron Rodgers thinking about do I really want to give that up when I know that I can still do it?
“Man, It’s going to be really tough for him.”
Robert Smith is a former NFL running back for the Minnesota Vikings and a two-time Pro Bowler. His career with the Vikings earned him a spot on the 50 Greatest Vikings list. Follow him on Twitter at @Robert26Smith.
Aaron Rodgers is looking for clarity on his future in total darkness.
On his regular Tuesday appearance on The Pat McAfee Show, the Green Bay Packers quarterback said he’ll be starting a four-day “darkness” retreat shortly after the Super Bowl, and he will make a decision about whether to retire when he returns.
“That’s why it’s going to be important to get through this week and to take my isolation retreat and just to be able to contemplate all things my future and then be able to make a decision that I think is best for me moving forward and in the highest interest of my happiness and then move forward,” Rodgers said.
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) February 7, 2023
The retreat Rodgers plans to attend includes four days of staying in a small house with no light while being completely isolated. He said he will have his meals dropped through two slots in the house, and he can leave at any point.
“It’s four nights of complete darkness,” Rodgers said. “You’re not locked in; you can leave, if you can’t do it, you can just walk out the door. It’s a darkness retreat. I’ve had a number of friends who have done it and had some profound experiences. It’s been something that’s been on my radar for a few years now.”
Rodgers has been the subject of trade rumors for some time, and those winds picked up after the Packers finished with a disappointing 8-9 record and missed the postseason for the first time since 2018.
During Pro Bowl weekend, Davante Adams, Rodgers’ former teammate in Green Bay, hinted at a possible reunion in Las Vegas. The Raiders will need a new quarterback this season because they’ve granted Derek Carr, their starter for the past nine seasons, permission to seek a trade.
Rodgers even mentioned Raiders fans have been vocal about wanting him in Las Vegas when he won the PGA Tour’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am tournament this past weekend.
“I’m just going to say that the predominant team that we hear as we’re walking (the course) is Raiders,” Rodgers told Amanda Balionis Renner of CBS Golf after winning the pro-am. “A lot of Raiders fans are encouraging me, a lot of ‘Davante misses you’ comments.”
While Rodgers could get traded, retirement shouldn’t be ruled out either. Rodgers told McAfee that retirement is “a real thing, 100 percent.”
“The idea I wouldn’t want to share a stage with Tom and J.J. Watt I think is ridiculous,” Rodgers told McAfee. “That’s already going to be an incredible Hall of Fame class; it’s not even in the thought process.
“Their decisions don’t impact my own decision. It doesn’t make me want to come back so I could have my own stage or whatever. That’s just not how I think.”