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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Even This Cynical Bitch Loves Aaron Rodgers

First off, here’s the link to where I first learned of the bullshit I am going to rant about in this post.
I am a cynical bitch, there is no question about that. I recognize that our culture is built on the idea of lifting people up, (celebrities and athletes particularly), only to tear them back down. I recognize that this need to see people fail, this need to dig up people’s darkest secrets, this need to ruin people comes from the darkest place in our hearts and is simply disgusting. Even despite knowing all that, I’m not immune to often partaking in relishing when someone who enjoys a holier-than-thou attitude turns out to be as sick and gross as the rest of us.

And so it seemed to be this weekend with Aaron Rodgers. Let me cut off any criticism right off the bat. Yep, I’m a Packer fan. It’s easy to dismiss my opinions of Aaron Rodgers as fan-girl or the product of blind adoration of “my quarterback”. I would make the same criticism if the roles were reversed. But honestly, that’s not what’s going on here. I take this more personally, I suppose, because he is my quarterback, but I would hope I would draw this line even if the subject was Tom Brady or Jay Cutler.

Getting back to the heart of this, the 15-second clip above purportedly shows Aaron Rodgers “snubbing a cancer patient”. It’s obvious from the clip that he hasn’t been told anything about this woman. She’s a lady standing there with a hat, hoping to get an autograph. Yes, she has little hair, yes it’s a pink hat with a breast cancer ribbon, yes we can probably figure out she is a cancer patient, but do you really think any of that occurred to him as he walked by her? He’s got earphones in and of course he can’t sign every autograph asked of him. Why is it the first inclination to assume he’s outright SNUBBING a cancer patient instead of giving him the benefit of the doubt and figuring there’s something more going on we don’t know about?
The whole point of this post is to relate the following - my dad forwarded me an email in September which had been sent to him by a friend who works for the Packers. This person works with, and has contact with, Aaron Rodgers on a daily basis. This person was kind enough to get my Aaron Rodgers jersey signed for me a couple years ago, and, as far as I know, Aaron did it happily, even though I am far less deserving than the lady featured in the story above. This person forwarded the story below to my dad in an email with just one line - “This is our QB”. When I read it, I was so proud to be a Packer fan. So proud that after years with a pill-popping, adulterous, lying egomaniac we lucked out with a professional athlete that actually seemed worth our respect.

Maybe I have no right to ask, since I’ve been guilty of it so many times, but can we please not tear Aaron Rodgers down? PLEASE? Even I, a person who is ready to think the worst of most, is fairly sure Aaron Rodgers isn’t capable of the awful attitude and behavior he’s being accused of today.
This is written by a sports anchor from Fox 6 in Milwaukee.
“Save Me a Spot”
This job affords me some incredible opportunities. Being a member of the FOX 6 Sports team means I’ve been able to witness and report on events and people that many can only admire from a distance. I never take these situations for granted and sincerely appreciate being involved in whatever capacity each permits.
Monday marked just the most recent case as I had the unparalleled privilege to be a part of Aaron Rodgers charity event to benefit the MACC Fund, a charity towards eradicating childhood cancer and blood disorders.
Scattered throughout the crowd of rabid Packers aficionados, were the people who I consider the event’s real MVPs. They are the families who’ve been forced to deal with one of life’s toughest sentences - the loss of a child.
Those who sprung for the tickets were not disappointed. In a world where many athletes regurgitate canned and rehearsed responses, the Packers quarterback was refreshingly candid. Aaron addressed a number of topics with in-depth, honest reaction - even some that if reprinted and mass distributed might raise some eyebrows.
Aaron stressed the importance of availability and accountability. In his opinion, it is a player’s responsibility to attend all of the team activities as they are all intended to better the team as a whole. And then, similarly, he addressed the importance of taking the heat/criticism when one falls short of expectations and duties.
He is never nervous to take the field. Aaron is supremely confident in the preparation he’s put in during the week leading up to Sunday’s match up. The way the 2009 season ended was disappointing but his self-confidence was not affected by the outcome. One of the toughest realizations was that that combination of players would never take the field together again. He likened the team to a family and admitted that conflict can and does occasionally exist but they try to handle such situations with maturity and civility.
He talked music and his love for tunes at a young age revealing that his mom used to sing and play lullabies and country music when he was a child. Aaron’s record label Suspended Sunrise is a product of this passion but also a contingency plan for life after football. His favorite song is Ben Harper’s ‘Forever’ and he’s envious of John Mayer’s guitar skills though not his tabloid reputation. He appreciated my affinity for Keith Urban but gave the audience a thumbs-down when I mentioned fellow country crooner Kenny Chesney.
His favorite book is The Bible and he tries to read it every day, not just when life’s challenges and struggles surface. His favorite movie is The Princess Bride which he admits he’s caught flack for but says he and his childhood friends can recite every line from the film and it is simply a great story.
Rodgers’ answers to questions on this night were certainly admirable. And I honestly didn’t think I could respect Aaron more. But I was wrong.
My friend, the father of a young girl who passed, was there that night. He was one of several attendees brought up on stage where he caught a football thrown by the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers.
He asked Aaron to sign the football he’d caught. He wondered if he’d make it out to his daughter. It isn’t shocking that Rodgers obliged. What caught me off guard was the dedication he made. It wasn’t until after Aaron left that I first saw the autograph…and the simple yet sweet message that brought tears to this father’s eyes:
“To Cheri the angel. Save me a spot. - Aaron Rodgers”
I hope that Packers fans realize how lucky they are to have such an upstanding young man leading their team on the field every weekend. I hope they appreciate the challenges that were thrust upon him and acknowledge the maturity with which he handled them. I hope they stand behind the kid and respect him not only for his incredible talent but for his intelligence and honesty, poise and compassion.
My job has afforded me the chance to watch Aaron Rodgers play football for the last few seasons. But I am truly thankful for the opportunity to see the other side of this impressive young man. And pass on some of what I witnessed to you.
If you can read that and still believe that Aaron Rodgers walking by that woman was motivated by malice, or ego, or anything other than simply being distracted, then I don’t know what to say. But I guess the best thing about this all is that I have no doubt that however he handles responding to this bullshit, Aaron Rodgers will do it with intelligence and honesty, poise and compassion.

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