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Super Bowl 2011: Could the NFL Knock Aaron Rodgers Out of Super Bowl XLV?

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 23:  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers is hit by Julius Peppers #90 of the Chicago Bears in the helmet as Peppers was called for a personal foul in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field on January 23, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Matt ParkerContributor IIIJanuary 28, 2011

The most significant injury story to come out of Sunday's NFC Championship game between the Green Bay Packers and rival Chicago Bears may have been the one that wasn't reported.

At least not to the NFL.

While most of the post game story lines centered around Jay Cutler's knee injury and the ensuing backlash from fans and former players alike, quiet speculation grew that Rodgers may have suffered his third concussion of the season.  

After sustaining a $10,000 helmet-to-helmet blow from Bears defensive end Julius Peppers, Rodgers finished the game appearing glassy-eyed and dazed, while completing just two of his final five passes.

But there is an unwritten rule in team sports: If you can go, you go.

Some may call this being macho or stupid.

Others would call it being a good teammate.

Fans saw both ends of the spectrum on Sunday.

Jay Cutler, perhaps erring on the side of caution—and looking totally relaxed about it— and Rodgers, possibly hiding symptoms of a third concussion in order to finish the game and move on to the Super Bowl.

In the end, team sports are about sacrifice. Rodgers was willing to adhere to this.

It's called being a good teammate, like how Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher came to the defense of Cutler following the game when the rest of Chicago and much of the NFL's Twitter community were throwing Cutler under the bus.

From everything we know about Urlacher and the nature of Cutler's injury, there's no way the same injury would have kept Urlacher out of that game.

But he's a good teammate and good teammates back up their fellows.

Just as the Bears said all the right things about Cutler, the Packers are keeping PC about Rodgers.

And here's why.

Late in 2009, the NFL issued a rule stating that players "once removed for the duration of a practice or game, the player should not be considered for return-to-football activities until he is fully asymptomatic, both at rest and after exertion, has a normal neurological examination, normal neuro-psychological testing and has been cleared to return by both his team physician(s) and the independent neurological consultant."

The ramifications and recovery time would each be more significant after a third concussion.

What would this mean if Rodgers had come out of Sunday's game?

Would the Packers have advanced?

Would their have been an outcry about his lack of toughness as well?

Would the NFL, trying to do its Big Brother best, have monitored his condition like a hawk?

As one of the local Packer radio guys quipped this week, maybe we'll find out in Rodgers' memoirs. 

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