Perhaps you’ve heard the assumption that Sunday night was Aaron Rodgers’ last game against the Bears as a Packer. The birthplace of this assumption/hope/desperate prayer must have been Chicago, which has a rooting interest in never again hearing him scream that he owns the Bears.
Several questions: Have the purveyors of this plea/leap of faith/cry for help been paying attention to the Bears, a franchise that seems to live for punishment?
Have they noticed how Rodgers delights in inflicting pain on his friends to the south? Do they think it has escaped his notice how good the Packers are?
Do Bears fans really think being rid of him will be that easy? That he’ll pick another team after the season is over and the Bears’ nightmare will be over? That the enemy simply moves on, as if he’s changing aisles at the grocery story?
No way. Remember, we’re talking about the Bears, who, though able to create their own calamity, are perfectly willing to accept donations. So Rodgers no longer a Packer after 2021? I’m more inclined to believe that God will change teams before No. 12 does.
Rodgers was up to his old tricks Sunday night, throwing for 341 yards and four touchdowns (and no interceptions) in a 45-30 victory. Exactly no one was surprised.
The big surprise was that the game was competitive and — what’s this strange word? — fun. The Bears, 11½-point underdogs, had overcome a pick-six by Justin Fields to take a 27-21 halftime lead. The high-scoring Bears? Who knew?
“I’m having so much fun!’’ Bears coach Matt Nagy told NBC at halftime.
Then the Packers outscored the Bears 17-0 in the third quarter and, well, you know.
Standing above it all was Rodgers.
He’s now 22-5 with 61 touchdown passes against the Bears in the regular season. Sounds a lot like ownership.
You can see where the idea of Rodgers moving on to greener and less gold pastures would be appealing to a Bears fan with a lot of scar tissue and a Twitter account.
A fan base can hope, can’t it? Sure it can, in the same way it can hope for free tickets, free beer and freedom from the McCaskeys. With the history of the Bears under current ownership as a guide, Rodgers figures to still be a Packer when he’s attaching tennis balls to his walker. Then he’ll throw for 350 yards and three touchdowns at Soldier Field.
Why would he give up what he has now? He plays for one of the best teams in the league and has a legitimate chance of winning his second Super Bowl. The Packers have excellent receivers, a very good running game and a good defense. Signing with the Broncos, Dolphins, Raiders, Eagles or Giants sounds interesting until you factor in the goal of winning. Then it’s not so interesting.
Among all the problems, neuroses and curses that are attached to the Bears like rock climbers’ pitons is the belief that they’ll never be free of Rodgers. Fans should know better than to think his haunting of their team will end so easily. All that discontent Rodgers carried around with him like a hair shirt over the summer — where is it now? He skipped offseason workouts, upset about not having a say in team personnel decisions. Some Green Bay fans became disillusioned with their star quarterback, who had won the Most Valuable Player Award only months earlier.
And now? Now the Packers seem like one happy family, with Rodgers the happiest camper.
But that didn’t stop social media from dreaming throughout the week. Take a good look at him, some Bears fans said. You won’t be seeing him anymore in Packers colors, they said. Mostly, they were hoping from the bottom of their battered hearts that he wouldn’t be around to carve up their team twice a year.
If Rodgers does go elsewhere after the season, history would like to point out that when Bears fans were celebrating Brett Favre’s departure from Green Bay after the 2007 season, Rodgers was warming up his arm. The atomic bomb was giving way to the hydrogen bomb. So if not Rodgers, then the next guy.
When he made his ownership claim after running for a touchdown at Soldier Field two months ago, he didn’t mean he owned the Bears in just that moment. He didn’t mean that he owned the Bears for the rest of the season or even that he had owned the Bears for the last 14 seasons as a starter. He meant that he owned the Bears in perpetuity because, well, forever seems about right.
Even if he signs with another team in the offseason, he’ll still call Green Bay “home” and Chicago “mine.” And he won’t be wrong.