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Greg Couch: Aaron Rodgers’ last chance with the Packers proves he’s no Michael Jordan

Op-ed
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Aaron Rodgers thinks he's Michael Jordan starring in "The Last Dance," the wildly popular documentary that chronicled the Chicago Bulls superstar's sixth and final NBA championship.

The truth is, Rodgers is actually starring in "Last Chance," a reality show documenting his final, desperate attempt to surpass Bart Starr and Brett Favre as the greatest Green Bay Packer.

According to reports, after an off-season of foot-stomping and breath-holding, Rodgers has decided to come back and play this season for the Packers after all. Whatever his problems were with the Packers organization, he never made them clear. Instead, he apparently leaked veiled threats of retirement to the NFL media-industrial complex. Now, the word is the Packers and Rodgers have reached an agreement that will make this Rodgers' final season in Green Bay.

Friday, Rodgers and his star receiver Davante Adams celebrated the QB's return from off-season purgatory by tweeting pictures of Jordan and Scottie Pippen fist-bumping. The pics were a nod to "The Last Dance" and a window into how Rodgers views his 17th NFL season.

He's Michael Jordan. Adams is Scottie Pippen. Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst is Jerry Krause, the Bulls executive Jordan and Pippen treated as their personal punching bag.

Rodgers has a Jordan obsession that appears to have created a delusion. The two-time NFL MVP and one-time Super Bowl winner fancies himself as having Tom Brady's seven-Super Bowl resume, which would qualify Rodgers as football's Michael Jordan. Rodgers isn't qualified. He's obsessed. He told reporters last summer how much he enjoyed watching "The Last Dance." He explained how he idolized Jordan as a kid and even made sure to attend Jordan's last regular-season game.

He's a Jordan superfan, not a Jordan impersonator.

Jordan was known for making last-second, game-winning, gut-wrenching shots. Rodgers couldn't punch it in on first and goal from the 8 in last season's NFC Championship Game.

Jordan bullied and cajoled his teammates to meet his standard of performance. His teammates feared letting him down. Jordan was a mafia boss. He made offers Pippen, Toni Kukoc, Dennis Rodman, Steve Kerr, and Horace Grant couldn't refuse. Jordan never made vague pleas for understanding. He was never that weak. He ridiculed Krause openly, mocked him for trying to take credit. The message was clear and strong. The championship banners were his statements.

Rodgers is an aloof enigma. His leadership style is unknown and undefined. He's more of a serial killer than mafia don.

What drove Rodgers' summer of discontent?

Maybe he wanted to try to pressure Krause, I mean Gutekunst, and management to build a championship team around him. Or maybe he was still just throwing a little temper tantrum over the Packers taking his replacement, Jordan Love, in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft.

Whatever it was, Rodgers' obsession with Jordan and the Bulls and the ESPN docu-series "The Last Dance" left him playing from the wrong playbook for months. Rodgers came off as a cross between a 4-year-old not getting what he wanted and a diva. Jordan never lost a PR battle.

Six championships buy you a lot of patience from fans. One Super Bowl from one of the great quarterbacks of all time constitutes a failed dynasty, no matter what Rodgers and Adams think they have going.

Rodgers spent the off-season parading around, letting everyone know that he didn't need the Packers as much as they needed him. He appeared as the host of "Jeopardy," did his commercials with Jake from State Farm, made his wedding plans, danced and played guitar in Hawaii, showed up as a celebrity sighting at the Kentucky Derby.

His Derby appearance set off Twitter because he was wearing a button that said "Turd Ferguson." Turd Ferguson was the name Norm Macdonald wrote years ago on "Saturday Night Live," when he was playing the part of Burt Reynolds on "Celebrity Jeopardy."

Rodgers was having so much fun, and even more, he wanted to make sure everyone knew it. At one point, NFL legend Terry Bradshaw called Rodgers "weak" and "dumber than a box of rocks."

And the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that a "death knell" of Rodgers' relationship with Packers management came when they cut receiver Jake Kumerow.

Whoever Jake Kumerow is.

When public sentiment started turning on Rodgers, he went to his friend and ESPN personality Kenny Mayne.

"It's just kind of about a philosophy and maybe forgetting that it is about the people that make things go," Rodgers told Mayne during a "SportsCenter" interview. "It's about character, it's about culture, it's about doing things the right way …

"I think sometimes people forget what really makes an organization. History is important — legacy of so many people who've come before you. But the people, that's the important thing. People make an organization, people make a business. And sometimes that gets forgotten."

It would have seemed like a strange rant to go off on if you didn't know about Rodgers' Jordan obsession. Years ago, when Jordan was feuding publicly with Bulls management, Krause said that organizations win championships, not people.

"Culture is built brick by brick," Rodgers said on ESPN, channeling his inner Michael Jordan. "The foundation of it by the people — not by the organization, not by the building, not by the corporation. It's built by the people."

The only thing left now for Rodgers is to come to practice this week, tail between his legs, and try to mend things with his teammates and fans. What will he say? I have a pretty good guess. When Jordan returned after his first retirement from the Bulls, he did it with just a two-word statement:

"I'm back."
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