Dear Aaron Rodgers,
First off, I want to start by saying thank you for everything. Watching you play quarterback and be the face of the franchise that I have loved over the last decade-plus has been one of the greatest honors and joys of my life. You see, I am not some middle-aged Green Bay Packers fan; I was not old enough to remember the majority of the Brett Favre era. But when this 21-year-old kid really got into and started watching football 12 years ago, I immediately fell in love with the NFL and the Packers, and the majority of that I can say is thanks to you.
Watching other quarterbacks play across the league, it was different on so many levels when I saw you play. From the arm strength to the accuracy to your ability to navigate the pocket and control the game, it was so genuinely amazing to watch and absorb. I'll truly miss the bombs down the field to Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, or Davante Adams to kickstart a drive or the free plays when you caught the opposing team with 12 men on the field or made them jump offsides with the patented hard count. I'll miss the smile toward players on the other team's defense as you walked up to the line of scrimmage or to the sideline after throwing a touchdown pass. The hate from other fans across the NFC North and around the league because of how outwardly good you were at football, ill truly miss it all.
Most of all, I am thankful for the jaw-dropping seasons and moments you provided over your 15 years as the starter for this team. Starting with the playoff game in Arizona in 2015, the odds were stacked against you, 55 seconds left, no timeouts, 4th and 20 against one of the best defenses in the game and just Jeff Janis and Jared Abrederis at your disposal. In classic number 12 fashion, you spun out of the pocket in the end zone and launched a ball 60-plus yards downfield to bring the team into hail mary range before making the greatest throw I have ever seen to Janis in the end zone to tie the game at 20. To this day, I am still amazed at how you got that ball off.
I also have to mention the hail mary against the Detroit Lions during that same season. Sitting at 7-4 at the time, Green Bay entered the game, having lost four of their previous five games and needed a win to keep pace in the NFC North. Once again, the stage was set, the final play of regulation, no time left on the game clock, ball sitting on their own 39-yard line. In one of the most improbable plays, you broke left before running around and buying time for the receivers to get down to the end zone. You then launched a pass that travelled nearly 70 yards in the air while being high enough to hit the rafters at Ford Field before coming down into the hands of Richard Rodgers. It was another impossible play, but with you under center, the impossible always felt possible.
Next, thank you for always carrying the G with you and being a great ambassador for Green Bay over the last 18 years. I know the last couple of offseasons have led to no shortage of headlines, and everyone has lined up to take their shots at you. "diva," "checked out," "washed up," it's felt like it has been never-ending. But I know how much it meant to you to come out of the tunnel every Sunday in the green and gold and be the face of one of the most historic franchises in sports. Even if the relationship between you and Jordan Love is complicated, I appreciate how you stayed true to your promise and mentored him a whole lot better than Brett Favre guided you during your first few years in the league.
To close it out, sure, some people will label you with the rep of playoff underachiever and choke artist as they line up to tell everyone that the Packers had Aaron Rodgers at quarterback for 15 years and only made it to and won one Super Bowl. However, those same individuals forget all of the vintage moments you provided in the postseason, like the three touchdown passes against the Dallas Cowboys in 2014 with a bald calf, the sideline pass to Jared Cook to seal the game against those same Cowboys in 2016, and the win over the Los Angeles Rams to get back to the NFC Championship in 2020. Furthermore, when you factor in how impossible it is to win in the NFL and that players like Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Dan Fouts, and Phillip Rivers never were able to scale the mountain and capture the Lombardi Trophy, I wouldn't trade the last decade-plus for anything.
So good luck in New York; I hope Jets fans realize how special a talent they are watching every Sunday, and we'll see you back in Green Bay so you can rightfully retire a Packer and take your place in Canton.
Until then, forever and always,