By Douglas Farmer —
My generation doesn’t know how good it has it. Not only have we all had cellphones since at least the start of high school, we all had smartphones halfway through college. Not only did we grow up with more than two channels, most of us had cable’s dozens throughout grade school. Not only do we get to enjoy Aaron Rodgers’ wizardry throughout the fall, Brett Favre took over as the Packers quarterback when most of us were not yet potty-trained.
Personally, I was a month away from turning three when Favre got his first start, a 17-3 victory over the Steelers in which he threw for 210 yards and two touchdowns.
Just to be clear, I am now less than two months away from turning 28.
This will be the 27th consecutive season the Packers have leaned on one of the NFL’s best-ever quarterbacks in either Favre or Rodgers. Not simply one of the best of the season, but in football’s history.
In that same timespan, the Vikings have trotted out 23 starting quarterbacks. Two of those were, in fact, Hall of Famers: Warren Moon and … Favre. The Bears have used 29 starting quarterbacks since September 1992 including both Cade McNown and Josh McCown. That sounds miserable.
To be fair, Green Bay has actually started five quarterbacks over the stretch—when Rodgers was injured in 2013, three different backups took turns failing to fill his shoes. One of those, Matt Flynn, started a game in 2010 due to a Rodgers concussion and started the season finale in 2011 since the Packers had already secured playoff seeding.
The point here is not to simply poke fun at NFC North rivals, though it is enjoyable.
(What about the Lions, you ask? Has anyone ever deemed them a rival of the Packers?) The point is to know what you don’t know, and my generation of Packers fans does not know how good it has it.
This is the only life we have ever known. Either Favre was scrambling around throwing absurd passes to Robert Brooks and Antonio Freeman, or Rodgers has been buying enough time to dissect opposing defenses by finding Greg Jennings or Randall Cobb.
This is the only life we may have to know for some time yet, too. Last season Rodgers threw 40 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. This summer he told the NFL Network, “I’m just kind of starting the back nine [of my career].”
In the same interview, he acknowledged that though he may be a 13-year pro, he is only a 10-year starter. Applying the golf analogy to that latter figure, Rodgers could have nine years left. Thanks to the wonders of modern health care, he very well could play until he is 42. I would be 37 before I ever have to genuinely worry about the Packers offense.
My generation, myself included, would be wise to not take this gift for granted. To us, it may be the norm, but it is very much not.
Douglas Farmer grew up in La Crosse, Wisconsin, before covering sports across the country with stops at The Los Angeles Times, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Dallas Morning News. He graduated from Aquinas High School in 2008 and from the University of Notre Dame in 2012, and now spends his professional time keeping an eye on the latter’s football team.