The regular season is still not over, and the playoffs start next week. However, regardless of their Week 17 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals turns out, the Green Bay Packers have already won in a sense.
At 10-5, Green Bay will square off against the also 10-5 Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium this Sunday. Both teams have already clinched playoff berths, (the Cardinals have wrapped up the NFC West) and can very easily meet again in the postseason just one week later. For Arizona, the playoffs are the start of their NFC championship defense; but for Green Bay, it's a sign that the franchise and its rabid fan base have come full circle just two years removed from one of the ugliest divorces in professional sports.
After Brett Favre guided the Pack to the NFC championship game in 2007, he threw the interception that lifted the Giants into the Super Bowl; flirted with retirement only to play for the Jets, and now graces the field for Green Bay's archrival Minnesota Vikings. His exodus from Lambeau Field has been nothing but positive for all associated with Green Bay football, including his successor that served as Favre's understudy for three years.
In just two years as a starter, Aaron Rodgers has given Packers fans many beautiful days in the neighborhood, even after going 6-10 in 2008. His 63.9 completion percentage and 102.4 quarterback rating are just a small sampling of why he is going to the Pro Bowl later this month; and he just broke the 4,000-yard barrier for a second consecutive season.
Who says there are just three great quarterbacks? Rodgers has performed on a par with Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees, regarded by many as the current Holy Trinity of NFL quarterbacks, while only Brees, Philip Rivers and the aforementioned Favre have a higher rating than the fifth-year man out of Cal.
One thing is for sure: Whatever the future holds for the Packers, Rodgers should already have most of the Packer fan base asking one question:
"Won't you be my neighbor?"
With numbers like that, Aaron Rodgers will not have any problems moving into the NFL's elite, and will probably maintain his residence for a long time.