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OPINION - A lesson from Aaron

by Chris Conley

NEWS BLOG (WSAU)  It’s not often that we can learn a life-lesson from a pro athlete. We admire them for their game-playing skills. Occasionally we might learn lessons of hard work and perseverance. And those are lessons we learn vicariously. We’re not with the athlete during the hours and hours of practice; we barely think about what happens on the practice field or in the training room when we’re watching them play.

Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers has given us a lesson in forgiving and letting go. We should learn from it.

By all accounts, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers were not best-of-friends. They didn’t outright hate each other, but they weren’t close. Rodgers was clearly drafted with the intention of being groomed into the Packer’s next quarterback. Favre wanted to play longer, and would keep the team wondering about his intentions after each season.

We have relationships like that in our lives. Maybe it’s someone at work who’s considered a young hot-shot… who might someday have your job. Perhaps it’s when your ex- gets a new boyfriend or girlfriend, and their life seems to be going better than yours. Maybe there’s a church, a club, a community organization where there’s tension between the older ‘we’ve always done it this way’ crowd versus a newer ‘let’s try something different’ group.

Aaron Rodgers was the person who had the most to lose by Brett Favre’s messy departure from the Packers. He was replacing a legend. And, after a few months, it was clear he was replacing someone who didn’t want to go away. Time after time Rodgers had a chance to vent his frustration, and take a personal jab at his predecessor. He never did. And now Aaron Rodgers says it’s time to welcome Brett Favre back into the Packers family and retire his number. He’s right. And everyone who is a Packers fan knew that this time would come. The question was ‘when’. And everyone knows that Packers fans have long memories, and consider it disloyal when former Packers play for rival teams.

The lesson is this: if Aaron Rodgers says its time to move on, then shouldn’t we? He was personally involved in this situation. He had an actual relationship and real interactions with Brett Favre. We didn’t; we watch these people from afar. Aaron Rodgers has reached the conclusion that holding onto this animosity serves no purpose. He’s right.

Every Packers fan thrilled to Brett Favre’s accomplishments on the football field. We cheered for him and with him for years. Like many athletes, we’ve learned that Brett Favre the person is less appealing the Brett Favre the quarterback. That didn’t make the memories we have of his playing days any less real.

Letting go of anger and negativity benefits the person who lets it go, just as much as it benefits the recipient of those graces. Aaron Rodgers knows that. Let’s follow his example.

Chris Conley