It is very easy to have doubts. Everyone experiences them. This is especially true when venturing into the unknown. Instead of just trusting, the habit is to try to find a tangible reason, an evidence even when there doesn't seem to be one. When a rational explanation is not found, doubt overcomes. I know how this feels as well as anyone, but with the future of the Green Bay Packers, for some reason, I don't have any doubts. I just have this overwhelming excitement and an unexplainable belief that this year will be a good year.
But how can I explain the unexplainable? Perhaps I am simply exaggerating, since my excitement is not without reason. While it is true that I am not concerned about Aaron Rodgers performance (I expect him to play well in his new starting role), I do rely on reports I've read from offseason practices. However, when these reports only strengthen the faith I have in the new offensive leader, it only further adds to this excitement. I can't wait for the season to start because I expect a good year and, unless I am proven wrong, I will continue to be excited. There has been no decline in this anticipation for me, only an increase in enthusiasm. Why? Because I have no doubts, literally.
Why am I not worried? Three words can be used to explain: faith, trust, and hope. They might be words connected with a religion or belief, but they apply to any time when stepping into the unknown. By definition, faith is required when there is no rational explanation. We can try to rationalize everything, but there are always those things that can not be explained or predicted. Consider the case in question: Aaron Rodgers. There are two ways to categorize Rodgers and his future: he is either going to be bad or he is going to be good. Reading posts on these boards, it is easy to see the divide. However, there is no real proof for either one. The only evidence is one performance against the Cowboys. Everything else is speculation. Therefore, making an assessment either way lacks a concrete reason. When there is no reason or evidence, and yet a person believes one way or the other, they are stepping in faith.
Doubt is the crossroad that leads to faith. A person can just not have a definite feeling either way, but this is when doubt occurs. Stepping into faith occurs when someone becomes convinced of a position, even if there is no proof. That is why my excitement is unwavering. I am convinced that Rodgers will be a good quarterback. I might be wrong, but I have no doubts in this conviction.
Making a decision among doubt leads to faith, having faith requires trusting what you have faith in, and hope comes from optimism. When all of this is combined, it becomes easy to be excited. The following are these three categories with reasons (based on reports I read of Aaron Rodgers) related to each.
The first step in overcoming doubt is faith, but there can still be reasons for certain beliefs. I believe that Aaron Rodgers will be a good to great quarterback, both as a leader and an athlete. To explain why I believe this, here are some examples from articles I found online. They may not be enough to convince, but they do present some positive reasons.
- Rodgers has a strong arm, capable of completing quick passes (like with slants). An article from ESPN by John Clayton describes it well: "His right arm sets up naturally, and the ball comes out unnaturally fast. He doesn't possess an old Randy Johnson fastball, but, in baseball terms, his 6-2 body throws the fastball of a 6-5 pitcher. Sticking to baseball comparisons, Rodgers might not generate 99 or 100 mph on the radar gun, but he'd consistently hit 94 and 95, and sometimes 96." This is essential for a quarterback who plays on an offense that relies on quick throws and shows that, even though Favre could throw a bullet better than most quarterbacks, Rodgers can still make some of those throws if needed. It may not be Favre, but why does it need to be? Greg Jennings had this to say: "He can make every throw on the football field, and his deep ball is one of the prettiest. Brett had a great deep ball, but Aaron has a beautiful one." Those who had concerns about Rodgers deep ball, take notice of the italicized line.
- Rodgers has an enthusiasm for the game, just having fun (sound familiar?) Aaron Rodgers knows how to have fun. That is very important, especially when he experiences the pressure of unnecessary comparisons. But, of course, I am perpetuating one of them. This quote from Rodgers expresses this enthusiasm well: "I know I'm blessed to be able to play this game. It's a kid's game. I just try to keep that attitude and perspective." Having that mindset has prepared him for the tough questions, and he has handled his situation well, which brings me to . . .
- Rodgers had been leaving a good impression with his interaction with the media; he has a good head on his shoulders. An important factor when replacing a legend is that the new quarterback does not become overwhelmed by pressure. The reports I've read, and the interviews I've seen, proves he is not concerned about taking over for such a legend. The best way to show this is by using his own words: "If I'm mentioned in the same sentence as [Favre], that's an honor. His legacy is the legacy of the Packers. I hope to continue that legacy." Not too worried; in fact, he has a lot of confidence. Consider what a Fox sports analyst has to say in this video: Schein: Pack shouldn't worry.
- His team is behind him; he is a good leader. Look at any article that interviews fellow teammates regarding Rodgers and it seems clear they have his support. I won't post these quotes, but the quote from Greg Jennings is encouraging.
An athlete can have all the potential and talent in the world, enough to believe in, but if the athlete doesn't do what is necessary to succeed, what good is it? That is where trust comes in. I trust that Aaron Rodgers is doing what is necessary to be the best he can be and that the coaching staff is capable of assisting in that growth. Here are the signs that both Rodgers and the coaching staff can be trusted.
- Aaron Rodgers is making efforts to unite the team. This is how someone solidifies a position as a leader: he reaches out to his teammates. That is what Aaron Rodgers has been doing this offseason. He even invited the team to his house on several occasions: "Rodgers also had to show inside the locker room that he was worthy of being Favre's successor. To help the process, Rodgers has invited teammates and their significant others to three catered dinners at his house this off-season. Among the featured entrees were seafood and "fried chicken and everything we have down South" for what tight end Donald Lee called "soul-food night." "It's important to be a connected team," said the 24-year-old Rodgers, who was more in tune with younger Packers than Favre in later seasons." This shows his maturity and efforts to take hold of the leadership role he inherited. Don't underestimate the importance of these actions.
- Aaron Rodgers is taking the offseason seriously, including the conditioning program. I am really tired of all the posts that claim Rodgers is injury prone. My argument has been--and I wrote this so many times I am growing sick of it--that he was injured against the Patriots because his body was not adjusted to the aggressive play of defenders in the NFL, which is true of the Patriots. His other injury was relatively minor. Now, considering that Rodgers did not taking his conditioning exercises seriously in the season in which he broke his foot, this is more understandable: "Rodgers might not have fared so well were he forced to play earlier. Rodgers initially wasn't a stickler in the team's off-season conditioning program, which may have led to some previous injuries, and had a passing release point that needed adjusting." Last year, he stepped up in this program (at least, I think he did), and his second injury was minor in comparison. While the Patriots injury took him out for a season, the second injury might not have taken him out as long (though, I will admit a mistake from earlier posts; in one interview, Rodgers said he had a torn hamstring and was 85 percent in the final game, but it is still not as bad as his first injury). Considering he is more dedicated to those conditioning programs now, I could easily see him finish a season without a major injury. However, Rodgers referred to the injuries as more "fluke injuries", which is something that suggests the lack of an explanation, so, once again, if Rodgers is right, I just have to have faith that he will stay healthy and trust Rodgers to do everything he can to prevent them. (He actually shows some irritation with the injury prone label in one interview; see sources).
- Mike McCarthy and Tom Clements know what they are doing. One of the reasons why I am excited is because I know we have a coaching staff that can really help Rodgers grow. Quarterbacks are McCarthy's specialty (I wonder if that was a factor in Thompson hiring him, with Favre close to retirement). In my eyes, just getting Favre to settle down and not force as many passes is a sign of his skill, considering Favre had more baggage (as good as he was, he was struggling the last two seasons by forcing too many passes and throwing interceptions). If McCarthy can settle down a quarterback set in his ways, imagine what he could do with a quarterback that he can mold from the beginning?
Hope is what ties everything together, but it also only makes for a more irrational perspective. This is because it is based simply on optimism. I can give all the reasons in the world for why I believe, but what drives me, and fuels that excitement, is the hope that I am right in my beliefs. In other words, while I might be convinced of my reasons, I still want those reasons to have the desired result. I become optimistic in this hope. Enthusiasm comes not from merely believing, but anticipation.
So why am I excited? I am excited because I believe all of the above but, more importantly, I expect (through hope) that it will turn out the way I believe. Therefore, I am more excited when I hear the doubts of fans of other teams or haters in general because I simply believe they are wrong and I can't wait to see them proven wrong when the Packers succeed. Do I care if I am wrong? Not really, because it hasn't happened yet, and it might not even happen. But while hope implies optimism, it also has a slight negative turn. It does mean that, despite all of my belief and aforementioned reasons, I still am depending on my unproven expectations and hope can be shattered. But, until this happens, I have no reason to be worried. I have no reason to doubt. Instead, I can just be anxious for good reasons: for the season to start. I'm sorry if I didn't convince you, but you can have your own beliefs in matters such as these. I just hope the energy of my enthusiasm can be passed to the reader (especially Packers fans). There are reasons to feel excited.
Don't doubt; just believe. The doubters' words are meaningless if your belief is right. Besides, what does it hurt to be wrong? If your anticipation is right, why be worried now?
Here are some of the articles I referenced:
John Clayton, Packers Gaining Confidence in Rodgers Arm. (ESPN) http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/colum
Alex Marvez, Green Bay is Mr. Rodgers' neighborhood now
Greg A. Bedard, Rodgers on being 'injury prone'