Monday, February 7, 2011

Aaron Rodgers does what Brett Favre never did...Super Bowl MVP!

(photo courtesy of

I said Packers over Ravens in the Super Bowl in the preseason. At least I got the AFC conference right...and of course the champion.

Listen, the Packers were stacked this season. An elite quarterback (I said it before the season and I'll say it again now), a solid running game, a star-studded and deep receiving corps and a tenacious defense. They were the Super Bowl pick for many at the start of the year, but early injuries made many question how far this team could go.

In just the season's first week Green Bay lost their workhorse running back, Ryan Grant. All Grant did in his first three seasons with the Packers was rush for 3,412 yards and 23 touchdowns. Nobody thought Brandon Jackson could replace him and he couldn't.

Starting middle linebacker Nick Barnett got hurt in Week 4 and was lost for the season. Desmond Bishop did well enough as his replacement to earn a contract extension and will likely play alongside Barnett next season, at the expense of free agent A.J. Hawk.

As if losing your star running back and middle linebacker wasn't enough of a blow, emerging tight end Jermichael Finley went down for the season in Week 5. Without three Pro Bowl-caliber players the Packers surely couldn't fulfill their Super Bowl promise, right?

Wrong. Aaron Rodgers proved his name belongs among the NFL's elite quarterbacks by carrying this team's offense all season until rookie James Starks emerged as a viable rushing threat late in the year. Their depth at wide receiver (third receiver Jordy Nelson caught 21 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns in the playoffs) helped mask the loss of the freakishly athletic Finley and the defense remained stout.

Green Bay even dealt with key injuries during the Super Bowl, losing top cornerback Charles Woodson in the first half. But like they had done all season, the next guy (in this case, Sam Shields) stepped in and the team didn't miss a beat. The Packers DEFINED team this season and that's always fun to see.

Great teams overcome adversity and Green Bay did just that. Behind the leadership of Rodgers, who never blinked a eye despite all the injuries that could have ruined the season, this team came together and won four games away from home to take the Lombardi trophy back to Wisconsin.

And let's not forget that the Packers needed to win their final two games (and get a little help from the choking Giants) against playoff-caliber teams to even make the playoffs in the first place. I stuck with the Packers as my championship pick when the playoffs began too, although I thought it would be the Patriots that they beat (thank you, Jets!).

Yes, somehow I found a way to include both New York football teams (sorry Buffalo, oh wait there's the third!) in an article about a Super Bowl between two other teams. Don't hate, it's an NY blog.

But that isn't to take anything away from Rodgers, who no longer has to play quarterback in the shadow of Brett Favre's lone Super Bowl title. And Favre wasn't even the game's MVP. It wouldn't surprise me one bit to see Rodgers win one or two more championships over the next 10 seasons. He deserves it.

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