Gamesmanship And Aaron Rodgers’ Collarbone Fracture
On November 4 Aaron Rodgers sustained a fracture of his left collarbone, an injury that has been the genesis of nearly endless speculation and consternation over the last 2 weeks. Is he coming back on Thanksgiving? Is the bone healed? Will the Packers still be in it? Will they shut him down? Will my fantasy team be forced to suffer in the playoffs?
So far, the answers to those question are no, not yet, maybe not, probably not, probably yes. However, Mike McCarthy has been adding to the ambiguity with the “information” he’s been providing on a daily basis about his star quarterback this week. On Tuesday, word was that Rodgers got more tests (read: x-rays) on his shoulder and the medical staff responded to the results with a resounding “Meh” and declared Rodgers not cleared but not ruled out for the week 14 matchup against Atlanta. On Wednesday, Rodgers was a limited practice participant but threw short and intermediate routes, showed some zip on the ball, blah blah blah.
Make no mistake about it: medically speaking, none of this makes any sense.
If what McCarthy says is true, and the docs saw the x-ray and did not clear Rodgers to play, he ain’t playin. Period.
So what’s actually going on?
The Packers are in desperation mode, big time. They want every bit of an edge they can get to stay relevant in the NFC playoff race. So why not throw a smoke screen about the status of their most essential player? The Falcons are reportedly preparing as if Rodgers is playing, so maybe mission accomplished.
Here’s why I’m saying this whole thing is gamesmanship and nothing more: if the bone is not healed enough on Tuesday for the docs to clear him to play, then it’s not going to be healed enough by Sunday. In addition, the Packers medical staff are not doing another x-ray before the next game, mainly because they went to medical school and know that nothing is going to change.
So, the Packers aren’t going to openly admit Rodgers is not playing until the 11th hour, which is their right. Rodgers is practicing so he can continue on his rehab path and maybe play week 15. Keep in mind that is only when the risk of greater injury is eclipsed by the true need for him to play. In other words, if the Packers know there is no chance for them to make the playoffs and there is a greater than 0% increase in Rodgers’ risk for sustaining a catastrophic injury, he’s probably not going to play. If adequate healing takes place, then and only then will Rodgers play without a chance of making the playoffs.
The ONLY way I see Rodgers playing this weekend is if Mike McCarthy is fibbing or at least omitting much of what the docs told him. Maybe there was a conditional lack of clearance, ie an “if Rodgers can practice well and not have any pain, his healing level puts him at a low risk to re-injure, so maybe he can still play” scenario. This seems less likely than the “this shit ain’t healed, don’t fuck around, but don’t tell anybody yet” scenario.
All in all, I don’t think Rodgers is suiting up this weekend. This is a bummer for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I traded for him in my fantasy league after his injury in the hopes of getting him back in time for the playoffs. I should have known better.
Steve Caronia is a New York City based physical therapist. This is the second time a) he has traded for Aaron Rodgers and b) he has had a prominent QB on his team fracture his collarbone. He won the championship both years.