The closer: Aaron Rodgers

  A triumphant Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field in 2008. Photograph by Chad Davis

A triumphant Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field in 2008. Photograph by Chad Davis

So many story lines in this past weekend’s playoff games:

*The Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson and the Indianapolis Colts’ Andrew Luck emerging as the class of their generation. This is not a rap against the Washington Redskins’ Robert Griffin III, the Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton and, my favorite, the San Francisco 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick. But they seem at this point to lack a poise, a maturity that Luck and Wilson have, which may be why Wilson and his team are moving on to the NFC championship game while Luck and his go on to the AFC game.

*Luck, of course, found himself involved in another storyline as the Colts defeated Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, 24-13. Manning was once the Colts’ man. They let him go when Luck came aboard. So you had the past/present going up against the present/future, and the present/future won. Whither Peyton? He might come back next year. But he and his team looked almost as flat-footed as they did in last year’s disastrous Super Bowl appearance. Meanwhile, the Colts will take on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots next weekend. Though I hate to admit, Brady – Manning’s contemporary – appears to be aging better in the job. Go Colts.

*The person who is at his peak, however, in his prime – to whom this year belongs – is the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers. Playing on one leg  against a very good Dallas Cowboys team, Rodgers rallied his troops 26-21 and showed what makes a great player, a great leader, a great star – the ability to overcome adversity and deliver. (It’s the kind of performance the main character delivers in my upcoming novel, “The Penalty for Holding.”)

For real comparisons, you have to reach back to 1997 when Michael Jordan overcame the flu and the Utah Jazz to help the Chicago Bulls take Game Five of the NBA championship series.

Now it’s on to Seattle, where everyone says the Packers are going to have to play lights out perfect to contain the mobile yet collected Wilson and score against the Hawks’ defense. But don’t count the Rodgers and the Packers out.

I wouldn’t bet against him.