For Rodgers, toughness not measured in how fast a bone heals
Aaron Rodgers. Image by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
No one will argue that the Green Bay Packers have not been the same since their beloved quarterback Aaron Rodgers left the Monday Night Football Game against the Chicago Bears with a broken collarbone. A single victory, a tie, and three losses later, all of Packers Nation is anxious for its field general to return.
Some are more patient and willing to accept the risks and consequences that arise in the violent sport that is football. Others apparently need to sublimate their frustration and now blame Rodgers himself for his slow return as if anything short of a miraculous recovery and return to playing form "yesterday" is a sign of weakness.
Check out these examples:
"If he is a man, he'll gonna play Sunday." - Gery Woelful, Racine Journal-Times
It's becoming more apparent that Rodgers is a Wuss. This is a 4-6 week injury for normal individuals.— JS Comments (@JSComments) December 11, 2013
Shock of shocks! Mr. Rogers is sitting out another game! Let's hire a quarterback who wants to play.— JS Comments (@JSComments) December 11, 2013
scan showed no healing.....ummmm what have u been doing sinc eit was injured then??? hitting it with a bat????— JS Comments (@JSComments) December 10, 2013
Some of this stuff makes you really miss Brett Favre. The guy played every game. This is #12's second injury in 4 years— JS Comments (@JSComments) December 10, 2013
Have these critics ever broken a bone?
It doesn’t seem to be the case.
Here’s the deal with fractures: they hurt. They hurt a lot.
I fell and broke my hand in college. Like many so many others, can speak from experience. It hurt enough that I needed to have it treated so I could concentrate and sit for final exams.
It wasn’t a sign of weakness. It’s what you do with fractures.
If you fracture your hand like me, your wrist, foot, or even your ankle, those types of breaks are typically treated with a splint or cast. The pain is typically minimized as it’s hard to jar or bump a healing fracture that is encased in a protective shell of fiberglass or plaster.
That isn’t the case with a collarbone fracture. You don’t get such a luxury.
There’s nothing there to protect the healing bone from the daily bumps and movements that can stir up the hornet’s nest of agony when those fractured ends rub together other than a little common sense and Father Time.
Roll over in bed on to the injured side, and you’re quickly reminded that it was a bad idea. If your toddler jumps into your lap and collides with your shoulder, and you’re gritting your teeth so you don’t cry out and startle your daughter.
How about lifting a gallon of milk? How many seconds would it take before you realized that was a bad idea and should probably wait another week or two before attempting it again?
Fractures can alter how we all go about our day to day life. Adults get work excuses altering their duties all the time because of healing fractures.
Thousands of school notes excusing kids from gym class are written each year to allow time for bones to heal. No one bats an eye or questions why we aren’t functioning at 100% following a broken bone.
But if you are an elite quarterback, you’re suddenly a wimp because you can’t play a high impact sport because your strength, speed or agility is affected by a fracture?
When exactly did the rate of a bone healing become directly proportional to one’s toughness or masculinity?
As for comparing him to Brett Favre and his multitude of injuries, it’s a pretty safe assumption that Favre would, in fact, not play with a broken collarbone.
I suspect the Ol’ Gunslinger himself would even know his own limitations if he had a similar injury, and no, you can’t compare Rodgers’ fracture to Favre’s thumb injury. Apples to oranges, or so they say.
This is football, after all, not some imaginary tale our grandfathers weave about walking to school in the snow, uphill both ways with no shoes to prove how tough it was when they were kids or how they accepted their lot in life because anything else was a concession of weakness. Oh yeah, and don’t forget they wrestled that grizzly bear on the way home, too.
It’s really nice that Grandpa didn’t freeze to death on that -50 F day with no coat, socks or mittens, but these tall tales which make for great bedtime stories do not apply to real life.
Fractures — including those pesky ones in the collarbone — take time. They don’t magically heal overnight. Did anyone question Charles Woodson’s manhood because he couldn’t play after either of his encounters with this injury? Did Wisconsin Badgers fans attack their quarterback Joel Stave last year when his season was cut short because of the same type of break?
Where was the outrage from the Patriots fan base when their own quarterback Tom Brady was lost to for the entire season in 2008 after he tore his ACL in his knee? Was he less of a man because his body needed time to heal?
Yes, November and December have been trying times for Packers Nation.
We’ve become a privileged lot that have become accustomed to the spoils of war. The NFC North title seems more of a birthright than a prize to be conquered. The Packers are supposed to be unstoppable, and their place in the playoffs is an automatic assumption. Our quarterback is supposed to be as invincible as Achilles and as indestructible as Superman.
Still, Aaron Rodgers is still human. He puts his pants on one leg at a time. His bones break and hurt like the rest of ours, and he bleeds red when cut. He wasn’t dipped in the River Styx. A pile-driving blow to the turf will hurt him faster than a glowing hunk of Kryptonite.
Patience, Packers Nation. I have this sneaking suspicion that no one wants Aaron Rodgers to return to play more than Aaron Rodgers.
Just as Rodgers himself is learning the art of patience this season, I would hope that fans and critics alike take this time to understand that concept as well. He will return. It may not be today or Sunday. But he will be back to play when his body is ready and he his injury is not a liability to himself or the team.
Loving a football team is a lot like committing to marriage. We stick together through sickness and health.
Hang in there, Packers Nation. Aaron Rodgers will be back.