Whether players admit it or not, how they're remembered when they retire matters. We throw around the word "legacy" a lot, and sure it can be overused at times, but in reality, it still has a ton of meaning.
There's no question Aaron Rodgers is one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play. There's also no question that he's come up short far too often for his talent level in the playoffs. Titles matter for quarterbacks almost as much as they do when people are yelling about whether Michael Jordan or LeBron James is the GOAT.
Rodgers will never catch up to Tom Brady in Super Bowl wins (who is now the unquestioned GOAT at QB and there's no debate anymore there), but the fact that he hasn't been back to the Super Bowl since winning in 2011 continues to be a narrative that leaves a dark cloud over his career.
The Packers head into their Divisional Round game against the 49ers as six-point favorites, and also the favorites to win the Super Bowl (+352 consensus). They also head into this game with a whole lot more pressure than the Niners, trying not to waste another opportunity with a team that's looked like a contender for most of the season (remember that Week 1 loss to the Saints though?).
No matter what happens, any reasonable person will recognize Rodgers' greatness after he retires. Where he ranks might be up for debate, but you're nuts if you just rule him out with the early playoff exits. Time and nostalgia help us forget a lot of the greats' failures, and the big picture tends to be what stays clear.
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Part of that big picture though is the unfulfilled expectations since that 2010 Wild Card Packers team took home a Lombardi Trophy. You may be able to look back and say Mike McCarthy held a lot of those teams back, but that's not the same narrative with Matt LaFleur as head coach.
This playoff run matters.
Winning another Super Bowl will only help time blur the poor performances in losses to the 49ers in 2013 and Seahawks in 2014. It will help most forget the 13-win teams that fell short, or the weird offseason and frustration with the organization this year.
When people talk about Peyton Manning's career, they mention Super Bowl "wins", meaning more than one. It just sounds better. The noodle arm and stout Broncos defense gets forgotten, left with a broad message that Manning overcame his playoff deficiencies to lead multiple organizations to wins.
If Rodgers can get his second ring on Feb. 13, that will be the dominant story, and his legacy will only look shinier in the process.