Jim O'Donnell: Was Aaron Rodgers playing in a concussed fog at Tampa?
HANDICAPPING THE NFL can be such a funny game.
None may offer a past performance more curious than Sunday's NFC Championship Game between Tampa Bay and Green Bay (Fox, 2:05 p.m.).
The result is from Week 6 and looms so large -- host Buccaneers 38, Packers 10.
There can be little question that score is impacting the primary betting line on the title match.
That number opened at GB a meager minus-4 and has been steadily edging toward minus-3.
That means money flowing Tampa Bay's way.
But for sharpest observers of that Week 6 Bucs blast, a critical question:
Did Aaron Rodgers suffer a concussion late in the second Green Bay scoring drive and play the final three quarters in a he-man fog?
With the Packers up 3-0 and driving, Rodgers scrambled on a third-and-4 from the TB 7.
He tumbled toward the goal line and clearly landed extremely hard on his head, wedged between the ground and a hard-diving Antonio Winfield Jr.
He appeared dazed. But a handoff later, Aaron Jones was in and the Packers were ahead 10-0.
After that, though, it was lights out in Mr. Rodgers' noggin' hood.
On the following GB possession, he threw a pick-six.
The next time the Packers had the ball, he tossed another interception, this one returned to the Green Bay 7.
The Buccaneers scored 28 points in that second quarter, led 38-10 after three and the fourth quarter was all about insurance commercials and Curt Menefee updates.
Rodgers was 8-of-12 for 107 yards before his brutal flip. After, he was 8-of-23 for 57 yards with the two picks.
The Packers managed only punts from their final seven full drives.
Rodgers has a history of concealing concussions and playing hurt.
He suffered two in 2010 -- the last season Green Bay won a Super Bowl.
But he didn't admit them until 2014, during an interview with Bill Simmons.
Of the first, Rodgers said, "The normal peripheral (vision) shrunk to like blinders."
Of the second, he verified that he couldn't remember plays and then at the line of scrimmage, couldn't recall what play he had called.
The only other publicly acknowledged concussion of his career came in the 2018 regular-season finale vs. Detroit.
Rodgers was rocked early and helped off the field. The Pack lost 31-0.
But what about the Week 6 tumbling vise at Raymond James Stadium?
Did Tom Brady and the Bucs stomp a brain-rattled master?
If the answer is a lost "yes," that Green Bay minus-3 looks like a fun fling over the tundra.
FOR THE MOST DISCERNING Chicago sports and media fans only, Jay Mariotti gets a whole lot of the heroes and villains in a textured essay titled "Chicago Sports 2021: This is a major market?"
The insightful piece was posted Tuesday on the free industry website barrettsportsmedia.com.
It sadly reinforces the reality that in terms of a preponderance of brawny team ownerships and weakened channels of fan pushback, Chicago is indeed "The Captive City."
Few, if any, are as well positioned to write such a sweeping overview as Mariotti.
Yes, he triggered some of his own land mines. And yes, some in the market loathed him.
But for talent, passion and competitiveness, the "Best of Jay" was about as good as it got.
His new tract shows that he hasn't forgotten the dance steps.
STREET-BEATIN': After a 10-year run, David Feherty's chat-and-chuckler on The Golf Channel is over. No reason was given for the cancellation; Feherty signed a three-year deal with the NBC property in December and will remain on staff. ...
Mildly mixed emotions for ex-Bear Leslie Frazier -- now defensive coordinator with Buffalo -- after his Bills shut down Lamar Jackson and the Ravens last weekend. Son Corey Frazier is a pro scout for Baltimore. ...
Tremendous accomplishment by Loyola's Cameron Krutwig: The Jacobs High alum became only the fourth player in Missouri Valley Conference men's history to top 1,500 career points, 800 rebounds and 300 assists. The other three are Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird and Hersey Hawkins. ...
Unsinkable Jeannie Pomaro -- wife of retired Cook County Judge Nicholas T. Pomaro -- is happily on the mend at home. (Judge Pomaro, one of the few blind jurists in America, once worked some innings as a White Sox radio analyst alongside John Rooney and Ed Farmer.) ...
Very few would suggest that Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts is the brightest apostle walking the planet. But even by his standards, referring to MLB's ongoing financial losses as "biblical" seems excessive. (Maybe he's quoting from the paternal Book of Email Joe 20:19). ...
And Gotham traditionalist Phil Mushnick, with an idea for yet another NFL prop bet: "Which playoff telecast Sunday will include the loudest fake crowd noise?"
• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.