Remember Charlie Sheen’s “Winning” phase when he went on The Dan Patrick Show mid-bender and rambled incoherently? After that, there was a span of a week or two where we didn’t know if it was schtick or an addict relapsing in the most public way. Once it was clear that Sheen was really struggling, the jokes weren’t as funny, and he became a pariah. It wasn’t sad, because he’s an objectively detestable person, but it left you feeling cold and empty.
This isn’t the same example but the collective realization that a human being was really struggling also struck true when Britney Spears shaved her head. It was like, “Oh shit, this is more than just someone yearning for attention.”
It’s happened with football players, too. Terrell Owens’ meltdown culminated with push-ups in his driveway. Antonio Brown flew off the deep end, and a lot of media members have wondered if it was too many knocks to the head. (That’s not an excuse for his behavior — just pointing out that either a switch flipped, or Mike Tomlin is the best manager of personalities maybe ever.)
Perhaps the most infamous among sports figures was Mike Tyson. His antics were so far out there that they somehow overshadowed rape convictions, and now people remember Iron Mike fondly after tattooing his face and appearing in The Hangover.
I never had the same fascination because there’s a certain degree of narcissism involved, but also a heavy dose of mental illness, which I don’t find all that funny. Americans love to see public figures spiral, and when we, especially the media, get a whiff, the race is on to give Lindsay Lohan every opportunity to have a psychotic episode on camera.
“Wait until you hear what so-and-so did now. It’s even crazier than yesterday when he put a live salmon down his pants.”
As long as the figure in question is more egomaniac than schizophrenic, it’s all fun and games. If their ego is truly a size that allows them to be a functioning narcissist, and they believe the stream of bullshit they spew every fucking day, then, and only then, is everybody cool with lining up like a firing squad and doing their best Donald Trump impressions. (To be fair, the former president definitely has some sort of illness, but I don’t think even his doctor has a cure for xenophobia.)
And that brings me to my point of today’s whatever this is…
Aaron Rodgers is sports Donald Trump
I waited this long to type his name because holy hell am I sick of writing about him, talking about him, joking about him. Anything to do with him, I’m out. It’s not that I think he’s having a breakdown even though I’m sure mental health professionals are enamored with his “complete overlap of ego and id.” (It’s been theorized, but they never thought they’d see it.)
This won’t be the last time I write an Aaron Rodgers column, though lord knows I’d give up one of my senses for that to be true, I will say this: I’m good. Nothing he does will surprise me or interest me or aggravate me ever again. It’s all an end to a means to bring the conversation back to him.
The darkness retreat, the anti-vax stuff, the Pat McAfee spots, dating supermodels (or women who otherwise will put him in the headlines), all of it. It’s all for attention. I’m not an expert, nor his therapist, so I don’t know what the underlying reason is for Aaron Rodgers to be so completely consumed with Aaron Rodgers, but it’s exhausting.
If it feels like he’s constantly gaslighting us, that’s because he is. The internet has empowered trolls to take human form, and here the fuck we are. Their particular brand of mumbo jumbo elicits such powerful emotions that we can’t not react. It’s like Jim Halpert rattling off a bunch of “That’s what she said” setups, and then turning to the camera and smiling as we scream it in unison.
The PR approach to the next public appearance is simply to “say some shit,” and it’s only thought through to the extent of, “Will it bring me attention?”
Calling Rodgers “Sports Donald Trump” is more for SEO than anything else. However, if you were wondering, “At what point will his act, and the subsequent jokes about it, grow stale?” We’re here.