GREEN BAY, Wis. -- There was a buzz phrase being thrown around at Lambeau Field on Friday.
It was this: “Organizational decision.”
One form of that or another came out of the mouth of Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy nine times during a five-minute news conference after quarterback Aaron Rodgers was ruled out again because of the broken collarbone he suffered on Nov. 4.
As in: “Obviously this is an organizational decision.”
Or: “As an organization, we feel that we are not ready for him to play.”
Or: “He understands how the organization feels.”
We could go on with six more of those phrases, but the point was made. No matter how much Rodgers wants to play, no matter how McCarthy appeared to be lobbying for that on Thursday, when he said Rodgers looked ready to play, this decision clearly goes higher than that.
The final decision rests with general manager Ted Thompson based on the information provided by team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie, although McCarthy and Rodgers at least are involved in the conversation.
Thompson was not available for comment, a team spokesman said Friday.
Part of the decision is weighing the risk of Rodgers getting re-injured with the reward that he could provide upon his return.
It’s worth wondering if Thompson doesn’t think the reward is great enough. Translation: Maybe he doesn’t think this is a Super Bowl-contending team with or without Rodgers.
If that's Thompson’s line of thinking, it would mean that in his mind, the risk would not be worth the reward. Even if Thompson were willing to talk -- which he hasn't since Rodgers was hurt -- he would never admit to that line of thinking. It would surely cause major problems in the locker room.
But considering that the Packers' defense has faded all the way to 26th in the NFL in yards allowed per game and that the offense is missing playmakers Jermichael Finley and Randall Cobb, maybe this team wouldn't be capable of a Super Bowl run even with Rodgers at the helm.
When presented with that theory, Packers receiver Jordy Nelson said he did not think that was the case.
"I hope not, at least," Nelson said Friday. "I doubt it. I think it’s strictly on whether they think it’s safe for him to play."