ATLANTA - There was a time when Aaron Rodgers would have arrived in this city and immediately been greeted with the “F-word.”
You know the F-word. The same one Green Bay Packer fans used religiously for years, but now cringe at its mere mention.
We can almost hear the media question now.
“Hey Aaron, did you know this is the city where Brett Favre started his pro career?”
Understanding that Aaron Rodgers is a bright guy, it’s a safe bet he is aware of the fact Favre’s first pro team was the Atlanta Falcons, the organization that drafted him.
Fortunately, mercifully, Rodgers doesn’t have to deal with being asked about the F-word on a regular basis any more. This is his team now.
The omnipresent shadow of Favre looming over him has evaporated, partially because Favre’s career digressed into a tiresome soap opera, complete with his joining the enemy Minnesota Vikings, not to mention the brouhaha associated with the alleged emailing of lewd photos to a former New York Jets employee.
At the same time, Rodgers has made the Cheesehead Nation forget the F-word thanks to his own success, adding his first career playoff victory last Sunday to an already impressive resume.
By leading the Packers to a 21-16 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday, Rodgers checked off one more accomplishment from his to-do list: a post-season win. All that remains now is an elusive Super Bowl ring.
In order to accomplish that goal, the Packers will have to dispose of the Falcons Saturday, the same team that edged Green Bay 20-17 at the Georgia Dome on Nov. 28.
Rodgers was a one-man wrecking crew that day, tossing for 334 yards and rushing for 51 more. Even with almost 400 total yards attributed to him, it wasn’t enough.
“In all my time being a football fan, I’ve never seen one player win a game all by himself,” Rodgers said.
But buoyed by a resurgent running game led by unheralded rookie James Starks, Rogers masterfully dissected the Eagles defence last weekend to allow the Packers to advance, a trend he hopes to continue against the Falcons.
According to Packers coach Mike McCarthy, Rodgers is more than capable.
““We have a quarterback who can make big throws and stretch the field,” McCarthy said. “He gives you a lot of versatility as a play-caller and offensive schemer.
“He has the ability to play in the pocket, trust his footwork, come out of the pocket and buy time. He’s a special player.”
“A special player.” Funny. That’s the same thing they used to say about the F-word up in Green Bay.