At 37 years old, Aaron Rodgers has had one of the best seasons of his 16-year career with the Green Bay Packers. His incredible performance has even put him as the favorite to win Most Valuable Player in the NFL this year.
But the toll of playing professional sports, especially one as physical as football, can be grueling on the human body. So how has Rodgers managed to not only survive this long but continue to put up incredible numbers?
Dr. Bill Raasch is the head team physician for the Milwaukee Bucks, Wisconsin Lutheran College and Wisconsin Lutheran High School. He is also the company physician for the Milwaukee Ballet Company.
He says it’s because of Rodgers’ intelligence.
“You have an extremely intelligent individual and then you have an individual who has the ability to release the ball so quickly so he can get out of trouble relatively quickly,” he says.
Raasch has worked with many athletes who are nearing the ends of their career and he says the ones who last the longest are able to recognize the risks they are taking.
“A younger player might assume they can do something they really can’t get away with and then they get hit hard but fortunately they are able to tolerate that stress, that load, that impact. I think the smarter, older players that stick around realize when to throw the ball away, when not to take a hit,” he says.
As a Packers fan, he hopes Rodgers has many good years ahead of him and he says that he doesn’t expect this MVP-level season to be followed up by a significant drop in physical ability.
He also says there is something for everyone to take from Rodgers success at his older age for football.
“As we age, we lose speed, we lose strength, that’s just the natural aging process, we take longer to recover, are tissues become more brittle, but if you can use your intelligence and recognize, I think you also have to recognize those limitations, that can create the successful individual that can continue to play,” he says.