Aaron Rodgers’ career may have just ended with a shocking blow

The end.

This is how it looked, felt and sounded at Lambeau Field on Saturday night.

It was definitely the end of a Packers season that looked like it had the potential to end in the Super Bowl in a couple of weeks.

Of far greater consequence, however, was the night that most likely marked the end for Aaron Rodgers.

This postseason should always be about the legacy of the Packers quarterback whose pedestrian playoff numbers have never matched his notable personal accomplishments, nor the one Super Bowl ring he owns.

The Packers’ stunning 13-10 loss to the 49ers in the final game of that NFC divisional playoff game on a cold and tense night put an abrupt end to Green Bay’s season and put 38-year-old Rodgers’ future in the spotlight.

After Rodgers and the Packers lost to eventual Super Bowl champion Buccaneers a year ago and Rodgers was asked about his future after he was asked about his future, he famously called it “a beautiful mystery” and ignited all sorts of speculation leading into the Whole poured out of season.

Following the loss to the 49ers, against whom he and the Packers offense only scored three points after scoring a touchdown on the game’s first possession, Rodgers became very thoughtful and conceded that he might very well have finished when he was asked about his future.

Aaron Rodgers
USA TODAY sports

Rodgers said he felt “a little bit numb” about the loss, adding, “I didn’t think it was going to end like this.”

When asked how he would describe his future after Saturday’s loss, Rodgers said: “I’m going to take some time and have conversations with people around here and take some time. It’s fresh right now, a little shocking for sure. I thought we had a Super Bowl caliber team. I haven’t really let the moment sink in for me yet.”

Rodgers, who finished the game on 20 of 29 for 225 yards and no touchdowns, was finished off by one of the worst special teams performances in postseason history.

The Packers had a 39-yard field goal in the last game of the first half that could have denied them a 10-0 half-time lead. They, too, had a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown, ending the game at 10-10 with a 4:41 tie remaining.

Still, Rodgers and the Packers got the ball back down their own 29-yard line, leaving 4:36 in a tie. These are moments made for superstar quarterbacks like Rodgers. But he and Green Bay’s offense went three and out, with Rodgers missing receiver Allen Lazard with a third pass he wanted back forever.

That gave smeared San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo the ball with 3:20 left and he would propel the 49ers into field goal range for Robbie Gould to stab Rodgers and the Packers with a 45-yard dagger-through-the- heart game. Winner when the clock bled to :00.

The great Aaron Rodgers, who is now 4-0 in the playoffs against the 49ers in his career, lost to Jimmy Garoppolo. It’ll take a lot longer for Packers fans to digest than the brats they ate in the tailgates before the game.

When asked how much personal responsibility he takes for this loss, Rodgers, to his credit, didn’t run and go into hiding. He took full responsibility.

Aaron Rodgers is fired by Arik Armstead during the Packers' 13-10 loss to the 49ers.
Aaron Rodgers is fired by Arik Armstead during the Packers’ 13-10 loss to the 49ers.
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“A lot,” he said. “I didn’t have a great night. I definitely have my fair share of the blame.”

When Rodgers was peppered with post-game questions about his future, he spoke much like someone saying goodbye to the place he’s called home for the past 17 NFL seasons.

He spoke a lot about the eventual changes that are sure to take place in the Green Bay roster, saying, “This thing will definitely look different in the future. There are many decisions to be made in the coming months.”

Then came this revealing statement: “I don’t want to be part of a rebuild if I’m going to keep playing.”

When asked what he thinks his legacy is, if this is it for him, Rodgers sounded like this was an exit interview.

“It’s raw now,” he said. “But I’m very proud of what I’ve been able to achieve here, deeply grateful for so many years here and all the incredible teammates and coaches I’ve had. Man, so much gratitude for this city and this organization, such a long career here.”

On the next breath, however, Rodgers left the door ajar to hear more.

“I’m still super competitive,” he said. “I still know I can play at a high level so it’s going to be a difficult decision. Many people are shocked. We didn’t expect that. But that’s life sometimes. I just have to keep going.”

The question that will remain until that is no longer the case is, will Rodgers move on from a brilliant football career that feels like leaving some valuables on the table?

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