The seemingly inevitable hypothetical is finally a reality. Aaron Rodgers has said he no longer plans or wants to be the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers and expressed his intent to be moved via trade to the New York Jets. If/when this happens, it means that the 2023 season will be the first since 2007 that Aaron Rodgers won’t wear the green and gold, a span that stretched 15 season, the same as his predecessor Brett Favre, marking the end of another era in the rich history of this team.
“Since Friday my intention was to play for the New York Jets.. it’s the compensation that’s holding things up” ~ @AaronRodgers12#PMSLive pic.twitter.com/p7i0QBo2qQ
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) March 15, 2023
There’s quite a bit to consider when looking back on the Rodgers Era in Green Bay: the wins, the losses, the records, the throws. One thing we can’t overlook are the teammates. During this decade-and-a-half run, despite a narrative some might want to push, we’ve seen arguably some of the best talent to come through Titletown.
I put out the call to Cheeseheads to vote on who they thought deserved to be remembered alongside #12 as the best of the best. Here’s what they had to say:
Quarterback – Matt Flynn
Running Back – Aaron Jones
Wide Receivers (3) – Davante Adams, Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings
Tight End – Jermichael Finley
Tackles (2) – David Bakhtiari, Bryan Bulaga
Guards (2) – Josh Sitton, Elgton Jenkins
Center – Corey Linsley
Tackle and Center were about as close to unanimous selections as we could get. Linsely was only a few votes short of being truly unanimous while Bakhtiari, unsurprisingly, was. Bulaga, meanwhile, split a few votes with the likes of Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton. It was three-way battle for guard as Sitton and Jenkins nearly edged out T.J. Lang for the two spots.
At the playmaker spots, Finley was a no-brainer choice for most as Marcedes Lewis was the only other player to receive multiple votes. Same goes for running back with Jones “running” away with the top choice as somewhat shockingly Eddie Lacy pulled down a handful of votes of his own.
Jordy Nelson joined Bakh as another unanimous pick at wide receiver, followed closely by Davante Adams. Greg Jennings was the clear bronze medalist of the group with an eclectic group of “Others Receiving Votes”, ranging from Donald Driver to Jeff Janis.
Now, quarterback. This was the most interesting development I saw play out as there were two very clear rules of thought on what the “Rodgers Era” meant. I left the voting criteria of “Rodgers Era” intentionally vague because I wanted to see how the voters would take this: do you start it from when he was drafted or when he became the starter? And based on how the votes shook out, there was a stark divide.
I received seven unique submissions for the quarterback slot-mostly a “Murder’s Row” of back-up quarterbacks-but ultimately the top spot came down to a split between Matt Flynn and Brett Favre; perhaps the best Rodgers back-up vs the man Rodgers backed up. Just like his last game as a Packer, though, Favre came up just a tad short.
Defensive End/Pass Rusher (2) – Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers
Defensive Tackle (2) – Kenny Clark, BJ Raji
Linebacker (3) – De’Vondre Campbell, AJ Hawk, Nick Barnett
Cornerback (2) – Jaire Alexander, Charles Woodson
Safety (2) – Nick Collins, Adrian Amos
Overall, the top selections were pretty obvious, however the open-endedness of this survey provided a few intriguing results on the defensive side of the ball based on where voters wanted to place their best players. Do you call Charles Woodson as a cornerback or a safety? Do you list Clay Matthews as a linebacker to open up another spot in the pass rusher category?
The biggest variety in submissions we saw was in those front seven position groups. While Matthews and Peppers controlled the voting among pass rushers, other former Packers like Za’Darius Smith, Mike Daniels and even Cullen Jenkins made several voting cards. Even the team’s current duo, Preston Smith and Rashan Gary, popped up a few times.
Kenny Clark dominated the defensive tackle group as the only unanimous defensive selection (at his position) and Super Bowl champion BJ Raji received enough votes to comfortably take the second slot. Raji’s teammates Ryan Pickett came in a distant third, as Cullen Jenkins and Mike Daniels made their second appearance in the voting.
Just as with wide receiver, the linebacker group had a few top-heavy candidates with a slew of one-offs following far behind. The current defensive quarterback Campbell shared the top spot with Pat McAfee Show co-host AJ Hawk. The third and final spot came down to a three-way battle between former Super Bowl winners: Nick Barnett, Desmond Bishop and, somewhat surprisingly, a reappearance of Clay Matthews, who apparently was seen more in the linebacker role than strictly as a pass rusher.
Answering the first question above, the voters remembered Hall of Famer Charles Woodson more as a corner than safety, by an almost 3-to-1 ratio, and while he wasn’t a unanimous pick at one position group, he receive a vote for either position on every ballot. No surprise that (future Hall of Famer?) Jaire Alexander was selected as his running mate, while Tramon Williams and Sam Shields got shown a little love as well.
The safety results highlighted a hard truth about the position group during the Rodgers era in Green Bay: There were not many great ones. Nick Collins is, no surprise, the runaway top safety, however short his time on the team was. After that, current safety Adrian Amos won the second spot almost by default. Sure, Woodson was able to garner a decent amount of looks at safety, but it’s a sharp drop off once voters started throwing out names like Charlie Peprah and Micah Hyde.
“All-Rodgers” Special Teams
Kicker – Mason Crosby
Punter – Tim Masthay
Kick Returner – Keisean Nixon
Punt Returner – Micah Hyde
Based on the comments and feedback I got from many voters, I may have inadvertently offended many by even offering these positions as possibilities, either because the selection was a no-brainer (kicker/kick returner) or because the group looks like the cast of the Bad News Bears (punter/punt returner).
Not much to be said about kicker, as Mason Crosby has been the only one Aaron Rodgers has ever known. Punter, though….much less magical. Tim Masthay was the clear winner, but it was somewhat hard for him to stand out among a scatter of votes for other real players like JK Scott or Pat O’Donnell and comments in the form of votes, such as “a bag of chips” or “hard pass LMAO”.
Newly resigned All-Pro Keisean Nixon missed out on as a unanimous selection as a few fans decided to give Randall Cobb his flowers as he looks like possibly follow his quarterback to New York. Meanwhile, Micah Hyde got the same Masthay treatment, standing tall amongst the forest of votes for Amari Rodgers and the similarly popular “Not Amari Rodgers”.
“All-Rodgers” At-Large Bid
Coming into this process, I thought about adding the “at-large” position with one thing in mind: Packer fans will riot if we don’t add John Kuhn to an “All-Rodgers” era team. So the “at-large” group was created to avoid adding a fullback group, but still giving the people what they wanted.
As the saying goes, “We make plans, and Packer fans laugh”.
John Kuhn was one of 14 unique submissions for an “at-large” bid. These ranged from a second running backs, a fourth wide receiver, long snappers and even both head coaches received a couple votes! In the end, one player did actually received enough votes for me to consider them as a true selection by the voters and not just scrap the category overall. And there was a comment that highlights why I think this Aaplayer got the love they did from APC’s very own TexWestern’s who wrote, “At-large player is nickel corner due to the team’s heavy use of 5 DBs”.
Your “at-large” All-Rodgers player: Cornerback Sam Shields
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