When Aaron Rodgers ambled his way across the Lambeau Field parking lot Tuesday morning, the reigning MVP brought an end to a summer of speculation about his future in Green Bay and effectively set the team back on a Super Bowl trajectory. If Packers fans and sportsbook operators are over the moon about Rodgers’ return to the fold, perhaps nobody was more fired up to see the quarterback strut into the stadium than the NFL’s broadcast partners.
By arriving for the start of training camp, Rodgers sent oddsmakers hustling to their boards. Just days after the latest retirement rumor prompted the likes of the Westgate Superbook in Las Vegas and DraftKings to pull the Packers’ futures odds, other shops kept Green Bay in play, offering bettors a range of options from the team’s 2021 wins total (8.5, down from 11 the previous day) to the race for the NFC North title and a shot at a Super Bowl berth.
That all changed the moment Rodgers arrived at the stadium in his The Office T-shirt and flip flops, as the odds pendulum swung wildly in the opposite direction. At BetMGM, the Packers were promoted to the favorite to win the NFC North (-165) after having been demoted to a stalking horse position at +195 behind the Vikings. Green Bay also jumped from +800 to +550 in the conference, trailing only Tampa Bay (+310), and moved from +1600 to +1200 to win the Super Bowl outright.
At the same time, Rodgers flipped the script entirely on the line for the Packers’ Sept. 12 opener in New Orleans. The Saints went from 3-point favorites to 3-point dogs in that widely anticipated game, which is set to air in the NFL’s first national Sunday afternoon TV window on Fox.
Arguably no network is better positioned to reap the benefit of the Rodgers-Packers reunion than Fox, which is set to produce five of the team’s nationally distributed games, a slate that includes three Sunday afternoon windows, an October Thursday Night Football outing and a Christmas Day showdown with Cleveland. Based on Fox’s average unit pricing for each of the 30-second spots that air during its “America’s Game of the Week” showcase and in TNF, those five Packers games should generate somewhere in the neighborhood of $268 million to $290 million in ad revenue; without Rodgers, Fox’s commercial haul likely would come in quite a bit lighter.
Green Bay is consistently one of the NFL’s biggest draws, which goes a long way toward explaining why the green-and-gold are all but ubiquitous during the high-octane fall TV season. The Packers this season are slated to play in 11 national windows, five of which will air in primetime, tying Dallas as the league’s most visible franchise. Rodgers is a key factor in the team’s outsized TV presence—per Nielsen, Green Bay’s Sunday appearances on Fox, NBC and CBS averaged 19.7 million viewers—and the ad dollars follow the eyeballs.
Not only does Green Bay command the fourth-highest ad rates of any NFL team, but its postseason appearances are a license to print money. Per Standard Media Index data, the average unit price for the Seahawks-Packers divisional playoff game in 2020 worked out to $967,545 per 30 seconds of airtime, which marked a $127,000 premium compared to the analogous Vikings-49ers game on NBC. And when Green Bay squared off against the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, the going rate for a single in-game unit was a jaw-dropping $1.73 million a pop.
Naturally, that sort of earning power has made Rodgers’ squad a highly sought commodity, and each of the four networks has made room for the Packers on its schedule. NBC has Green Bay slated for three Sunday Night Football appearances, including a Sept. 26 rematch of that 2020 Packers-Niners title tilt, while CBS has doubled up its year-ago commitment with a pair of marquee matchups. ESPN has an early NFC North grudge match lined up as the Lions head to Lambeau on Sept. 20, but it also has an intriguing Jan. 8 doubleheader to fill—a two-fer that will be simulcast on broadcast sibling ABC.
While the network suits can all rest easy knowing that one of the NFL’s most reliable meal tickets isn’t likely to wander off to take the Jeopardy! gig, not everything in Green Bay is all bumblebees and applesauce. Following his first practice Wednesday afternoon, Rodgers shed light on some of the issues he’s had with the front office, reciting a litany of past Packers (“I’m talking about Charles Woodson, Jordy Nelson, Julius Peppers, Clay Matthews, Randall Cobb…”) who he believes were ill-treated by management on their way out the door.
“[These] guys were exceptional players for us, great locker room guys, high-character guys,” Rodgers said. “Many of them who weren’t offered a contract at all or were extremely low-balled, or were, maybe in my opinion, not given the respect that guys of their status and stature and high character deserved.”
Rodgers also addressed what the future may hold beyond this season, and while he didn’t offer a definitive answer, he sounded an awful lot like a man who’s gearing up for one final mission. ”I really don’t know,” Rodgers said, when asked if there was any chance that he’d play in Green Bay after this go-around. “I think things in that direction haven’t really changed at all. … There are a lot of moving pieces besides myself, expiring contracts for a number of guys. So, there’s going to be a lot of tough decisions at the end of the year. I’m just going to enjoy this year, then revisit that conversation at the end of the season.”