We all spent the months in-between meaningful NFL football in different ways and yet one thing is binding. There is not a single soul out there who believed the Jameis Winston-led New Orleans Saints would systematically destroy the Aaron Rodgers-led Green Bay Packers in Week 1 of the season. And yet that is very much what happened in a game even more lopsided than the five-touchdown spread suggests. Winston threw five touchdowns without even warming up his arm. Rodgers was as rocky as a Mike Richards news cycle.
The most shocking result of Sunday's slate inspired strong reaction from Stephen A. Smith this morning on First Take. With the energy needed to match Michael Irvin's personality, Smith took aim at Rodgers and left nothing in reserve, calling it the most atrocious performance of the quarterback's career.
Smith went on to call the effort shameful, pointing out that there were long stretches where Rodgers didn't seem to care about the disaster unfolding around him. At least that's just what the result suggests.
Weird things can and do happen in the NFL. Especially in Week 1. Rodgers has certainly built up enough capital to shield himself from most criticism. Still, this was a historically awful and jaw-dropping turn of events following a protracted public drama about his future. Scholars may go to their graves maintaining today was the hardest it ever was to defend the surefire Hall of Famer. If so, what a blessing to live in interesting times.
Even if this was the worst performance, both in reality and optics, of Rodgers' career, it only counts as one loss. There are 16 more chances to play like his vintage self. Plus, the NFC North failed to notch a win, meaning the Packers and everyone else are in first place.
Great calisthenics for Smith to flex his muscle on an easy target, which is what so many tune in to see. Still a chance this clip ends up in a year-end revenge montage as Rodgers walks away with the ultimate I Told You So Super Bowl.