Perspective | Aaron Rodgers goes on a darkness retreat. So I did too.


If Aaron Rodgers is to be believed, then he is either close to entering his isolation retreat or already there. And if Rodgers, an overthinker who sometimes plays quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, can spend four days and nights sitting alone with his thoughts in complete darkness, then I can certainly get by with an hour of seclusion inside a studio. Washington Post photo.

When Rodgers, while withdrawing from the playoffs, announced on the Pat McAfee Show that he was going to a remote location with no phone, no schedule, and especially no light, only him, his thoughts, and the darkness, he realized. me thinking Rodgers said that he will darken because he wants to “be able to contemplate all things [about] my future.” Some pretty big life decisions, like whether to return to Green Bay, find a new team, or just retire. Well, I’ve got things to contemplate, too: What should I eat for dinner tonight? Why are DC speed cameras chasing me? Shouldn’t I dedicate this space to Eric Bienniemy instead?

So maybe I, too, need to get weird on a February afternoon and escape into the deep, dark shadows of my mind. I put my phone on “Do Not Disturb” and find what I hope is the darkest room in the building: a photo studio. Our featured photo editor, Toni Sandys, slides me over looking a little too groggy to flip the light switch and shut the door as I settle into the sofa.

So it begins, my time in the dark. Rodgers has the entire NFL world waiting for his decision (once again). I have my publisher Dan waiting for me to deliver my copy (as always Steinz). So yeah, A-Rod and I are pretty much the same thing here: sitting in the dark, testing the limits of other people’s patience, and trying to reach a higher level of consciousness.

What exactly does Eric Bieniemy need to do to land a head coaching job?

One minute and I’m trying not to take a nap and call it “work.” Rodgers is probably thinking big and deep things, so I should be too. I can’t stop yawning. When a lion roars quietly, do people think he is yawning? What if someone goes on safari, mistakes a lion for a cute tired yawning jungle cat and goes upstairs to pet it? But really the lion has lost his voice and is saying: “Graaaaaaarrr! Run for your life! I’m about to eat you!”

Correct! Darkness. I forgot. Back to the dark.

It’s been five minutes and I’m still not hallucinating. According to those who retire from obscurity, people who have so much discretionary income that they’ve paid real money to travel while crammed into a space the size of a bedroom, this experience can be delusional. Quirky stuff like, say, a vision of Rodgers lifting a second Lombardi trophy. One guy said that he saw people dancing on the roof, which, when you think about it, may not be as cool as Lionel Richie makes it sound. Another woman said that in her hallucination she saw Bill Gates and a team of scientists examining her organs. You’d think the sixth richest man in the world could afford his own bunker.

Now I wonder who Rodgers will meet in his room. Perhaps his former favorite receiver, Davante Adams, catching touchdowns on the roof? Perhaps Dr. Anthony Fauci and a team of virologists patiently explaining to you the importance of vaccines?

And now for a random, but not-so-deep thought: Wouldn’t it be great to see what Green Bay backup Jordan Love can do as a starting quarterback? Every offseason, Rodgers decides to take the Packers hostage, immobilizing the franchise until it’s finally made up, and further delaying the development of his backup. Whenever Rodgers leaves, Love, whom the Packers selected 26th overall in 2020, will be next in line. But the Packers need Rodgers, 39, to go now. So don’t blame Love if he hopes Rodgers gets lost in the dark and can’t find his way back to Lambeau Field.

Thirty minutes down, and this sofa is so comfortable. Time for that nap. Excuse me, Mr. Gates, could you stop looking at my liver?

I can’t believe they’re paying me for this.

I can’t believe we’re paying attention to this man.

How confused must Rodgers’ mind be that he needs to spend almost a week in the darkest solitude to figure out his next move? This should not be so hard. Look, I’ll show him.

Rogers: Should I demand a trade from the New York Jets?

Me, happily asleep in the dark: No.

For someone like Rodgers, who enjoys manipulating the message, he’ll hate New York’s voracious media market. He’ll never be able to get away with a “Yes, I’ve been immunized” line without taking a beating in the back pages of the tabloids.

Rogers: How about meeting my main man, Adams, in Las Vegas?

Me, now in 40 minutes, awake and craving a latte: Possibly.

The Raiders could be another plug-and-win situation like Tom Brady had in his first year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But there’s no point in moving to the AFC West, not with the Kansas City Chiefs as divisional neighbors. The Super Bowl champions are led by 27-year-old Patrick Mahomes, the league’s best quarterback, who doesn’t need to publicly share his journey to integrity to stay relevant.

Rogers: So I should retire, right?

Me and the visions of Lionel Richie and Dr. Fauci, in unison: 100 percent, dude.

Rodgers will grant freedom to the Packers, the NFL and even himself, if he decides to start his post-football life. So, he can walk all the corridors of his mind as much as he wants. The only problem is that he will miss being in the center of it all.

Rodgers loves to be the talk, taking in all the oxygen. He loves to captivate an audience of brothers who are easily amused every Tuesday when the McAfee show hangs on his every syllable. He loves to lead the A-block segments on the football networks during the off-season.

He complains about the “fake news” being reported about his life by national NFL reporters. But the very thing Rodgers criticizes is what he craves: attention. In the NFL, he’s a disruptor, an enlightened philosopher with shoulder pads. But in the real world, he’s just a guy, approaching middle age, struggling to find himself.

As my hour-long solitude retreat ends, I am assaulted by the fluorescent lights on the eighth-floor ceiling and my pending deadline. Unfortunately, I never reach enlightenment. I only find out that I missed five emails, two texts, and a call from my mom. Hopefully Aaron Rodgers’ getaway goes better than mine. Still, the dark seems like a strange place for a man who desperately wants to be seen.

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