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"What would your reaction be if Aaron Rodgers joined the Bears?
I texted that question to some of the biggest Bears fans I know last night, curious to see what I'd get back.
"Man, I would hate it," came the first reply.
"First, revulsion," read the next. "Followed by a quick justification of why it'd be OK to root for him."
"Super Bears, Super Bowl ... puke," texted the third.
"I could get behind it, though I think he's a tool," said the fourth. "But if he wins, I'm in!"
"When can he get here?" asked the impatient fifth, ending my informal survey for the night.
Could Chicago fans ever accept Rodgers as one of their own?
It's a question I asked myself as the 2020 Chicago Bears finally held a practice on Wednesday afternoon, kicking off the QB derby between Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles.
Before anyone gets too excited, the "winner" of that competition will be the quarterback this season. And maybe in 2021, too.
But Rodgers admitted to Kyle Brandt in a Ringer podcast that dropped Wednesday that the drafting of Jordan Love likely won't end his career as a Green Bay Packer. The earliest any divorce would likely end up happening is 2022, when the Packers' cap hit falls to $17 million if he's traded.
Now, granted, two years is an eternity in the NFL, as the San Francisco 49ers just proved. A rebuilding Bears squad could already be in year two of the Justin Fields experience while Rodgers' interest in playing savior is piqued elsewhere.
But for the purposes of this newsletter, let's say the stars align and the puzzle pieces fit.
Could we really flip the switch and start rooting for a Packers legend that has burned us time and time again?
My personal reaction was initially one of revulsion. You can't just forget that Rodgers has gone 19-5 (and counting) against the Bears while also beating them in a NFC championship game at Soldier Field. Any time he'd drop back around midfield, I'd be reminded of the touchdown throw to Randall Cobb that kept the Bears out of the playoffs in 2015.
Plus, would a Super Bowl victory be as satisfying with Packers fans forever reminding us that it wouldn't have gotten done without their Hall of Fame QB? I hate to think about it.
But then came the justification part.
- The Bears haven't had a star QB since the Truman administration.
- It'd be fun to give Rodgers the second Super Bowl title the Packers have repeatedly failed to deliver him.
- The Bears aren't in any position to be choosy as the Super Bowl drought nears 40 years.
- If it doesn't end in a title, we can just deny that it ever happened, just like we do with Jim Edmonds on the 2008 Cubs.
Luckily, I didn't have to go far for some advice on the matter.
Vikings fans were in the same predicament when Brett Favre dramatically arrived on a private jet and signed a two-year deal with Minnesota just before the 2009 season.
How did Vikings fans feel about the whole thing?
"Brett Favre was an incredible summer fling for Vikings fans, with no expectation of a long-term relationship," Twin Cities sports radio host Phil Mackey told me. "Both parties wanted to stick it to Favre's ex. It was glorious."
My friend and Minnesota super fan Lindsay Guentzel said she was a bit more tentative about the whole thing, but that the feeling dissipated quickly
"No one wants someone's sloppy seconds," she told me. "Especially when those sloppy seconds spent 15 years playing for your border rival. But when he leads your team to a 7-1 record heading into the bye week, you tend to forget those years of anger and hatred.
"You are straight up drunk on success."
Favre was 40 during the 2009 season, a campaign that saw the Vikings go 12-4 and almost reach the Super Bowl were it not for two costly Favre INTs against the Bountygate Saints in the NFC title game.
"I think most Vikings fans born after 1975 would tell you 2009 is one of the two or three most fun seasons they've experienced," Mackey said. "We talk a lot about how amazing it would have been if Favre would have won a Super Bowl in purple."
Rodgers would be 39 in the 2022 season and he could be very effective for the Bears since it seems like he's going the Tom Brady "I'm going to optimize my body and play until I'm 300 years old" route.
At this point, I'd be on board with a Rodgers arrival in blue and orange, particularly if he had enough left in his tank to turn it into a mini era of 3-4 years instead of just a disappointing season or two. (The 2010 Vikings were 6-10 with Bears rookie Corey Wooten ending Favre's career with a vicious sack on the frozen field at the University of Minnesota.)
"If all these rumors are true, Bears fans should hope to be a part of the Aaron Rodgers Redemption Tour," Lindsay told me. "At the very least, you'll get to enjoy watching Packers fans burn another jersey in anger."
So, yeah. I think I'd be in, provided it was clear Rodgers could still play at a high level and the Bears were otherwise a contender.
What about you?