It's never easy for the great ones to be reminded of their flaws, and immortals are never comfortable with being reminded of their mortality. But there's three potential football Hall of Famers who've recently had their egos checked, and it hasn't gone over well.
Tom Brady is the NFL's greatest quarterback ever -- this much was cemented long ago. His longevity will always be staggering. But, after a losing campaign with the Buccaneers, that ended with a desultory loss against the Cowboys in the NFC Wild-Card round, it was clear he'd lost some of his magic.
Yes, there were still great moments for Brady, like his last-second comebacks against the Rams and Saints. But, all too often, he missed his open receivers, or was hurried into a middling day on the gridiron. Brady's personal life clearly weighed on him too, and the result was a distracted and anxious quarterback, hoping to survive the tumult.
He wanted to play one more season -- it was easy to see this wasn't the way he wanted his career to end. But the opportunities simply weren't there. The Dolphins bowed out of the Brady sweepstakes, as did the 49ers. The Raiders likely had a spot for Brady, but was the 46-year-old legend going to play for a rebuilding team chasing the Chiefs in their own division? The options weren't there, even for the GOAT.
The football world now awaits Aaron Rodgers' decision as he comes up for air from his cave. The Prince of Darkness may decide to retire. He may decide he wants to stay in Green Bay with the only team he's ever known. But it certainly sounds like the Packers would like him to select Door No. 3, and a separation.
Green Bay bent over backwards to mollify their superstar two offseasons ago, giving him the huge contract, power, and job security he craved. The Packers have also taken great pains to ensure public support for Rodgers, through any and all of his public foibles, spats, and missives. Rodgers publicly challenged the play-calling. He made remarks about who should play and who should sit. And now, he's once again waffling on his commitment to the game, letting the organization look like weak-kneed substitute teachers.
The Packers are exhausted -- as they should be. And while Rodgers is allowed to "make the call," it's likely the team is letting him know they'd like that call to be a trade. They've been held hostage by him for long enough, which is fine if they were winning big. But, for four straight seasons, Rodgers has been awful when it mattered most -- against the 49ers in 2019 playoffs, the Bucs in 2020, the 49ers again last year, and the Lions this past January. The juice isn't worth the squeeze anymore.
Russell Wilson is currently dealing with his own PR black eye. A recent report from The Athletic says Wilson wanted coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider fired in his final year with the Seahawks. Wilson has denied it, and his reps have said the story is a fabrication. But, there clearly were some hard feelings when Wilson played the Seahawks in the Monday night opener.
While Carroll wouldn't explain why Seattle desperately wanted to beat Wilson, he did say, "You figure it out." The allusion was to grudges his teammates and the franchise built up against him, which is a strange way for an icon to leave. Even the team mascot took shots at Wilson on his way out the door.
Wilson's penchant for being difficult to understand and embrace is known by many around the game. He has his own personal staff, which runs counter to the team ethos, along with his own office located away from the locker room. Plus, his social media posts are cringe-worthy in their artificiality. Last season was a disaster for Wilson in every regard. And now he's left humbly having to explain whether he's a competitive disadvantage for the Broncos.
It's tough for legends to hear they're not wanted anymore. But life moves fast in the NFL. And for this trio of quarterbacks, it's been especially difficult since they view their value far differently than their employers do.