As the Green Bay Packers and New York Jets work out the trade of a Hall of Fame quarterback for the second time in a generation, the media has pulled up old tropes. The idea that there are scores of fans ready to jump ship and follow a single player over a team is tired. It ignores all prior history. The continued use of this nonsensical narrative needs to be put to bed. While many fans may continue to watch Aaron Rodgers, fans will not follow Rodgers to a new team.
With History as Example, Fans Will Not Follow Rodgers to a New Team
Not the First Time
In 2009, Peyton Manning was the MVP after another one of his many stellar seasons with the Colts. His 2010 season was also spectacular, but then he suffered a neck injury and missed all of 2011. The Colts released Manning and he became a free agent, eventually signing with the Denver Broncos. Being very clear, the Colts went from a Super Bowl-winning, four-time MVP to a guy they had not even drafted yet. They cut him to clear cap space and move forward.
Joe Montana was the NFL MVP in 1989 and 1990. In 1991, he was injured and missed the season. He only played one game in 1992 and was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs. A back-to-back MVP just a brief two years prior and then, gone.
Tom Brady is an even more recent version of this phenomenon. Six Super Bowl victories with the New England Patriots and then he was allowed to walk away. Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when the Patriots made it clear his run in New England was over. The biggest name in the sport told the team would be moving on.
Noticeable in each of these circumstances is how fans did not abandon their teams. The Chiefs are not a widely supported team in San Francisco and there are not many Buccaneers hats in Boston. Undoubtedly, fans watched the players they loved play in the new uniforms. Still, a mass exodus of fans to follow a single player is not an issue that has ever yet been manifested.
Brett Favre Key Example
The Packers have specific experience with this. Brett Favre was part of a great renaissance of Green Bay Packers football. A Return to Titletown, as the Super Bowl parade called it. Favre eventually started to wane in ability and was pushing the ends of the team’s patience over and over. Eventually, he was traded and pundits stated that Packers fans would all suddenly be New York Jets fans. This never materialized. Famously, there was an incredibly small, feeble protest near Lambeau Field. Just as fans did not follow Favre, fans will not follow Rodgers.
Green Bay is the smallest city in all of professional sports. We all know this. A lone remanent of teams like the Decatur Staleys (now the Chicago Bears) and the Portsmouth Spartans (now the Detroit Lions). A city that the NFL’s other owners would love to leave if the team was not owned by the fans. It is clear in situations like this, that other fan bases and the large media markets cannot understand Green Bay football.
Packers are a Different Story
The Packers have been sold out since 1959. That is the first year Vince Lombardi coached in Green Bay. The Packers were a losing team the season prior. To be clear, the Packers have not been contenders that entire time, but the support is something else. The season ticket waitlist is currently over 140,000 people deep. Only between 70 and 100 ticket packages are not renewed each year.
Fans in other cities are used to leaving when the team is bad. Teams sometimes have corporate sponsors step in to buy and give away tickets so their advertising dollars are not wasted on game day. Other teams have short memories and little history. Green Bay is a place where my children can be the sixth generation of fans in the family. This is the true, generational glue and is why fans will not follow Rodgers to some other team.
Media Narrative Grows Stale
The narrative of fans leaving their team to follow a star is terrible. It never happens. More specifically, the idea is almost never discussed with other teams. If fans did not leave New England along with the only quarterback to win a Super Bowl in their colors, then the Packers are not leaving for the guy who was under center for one of thirteen championships. The entire media narrative is lazy and shows contempt for Packers fans in general.
Main Image: Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK