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Aaron Rodgers returns from ‘darkness retreat’ to contemplate NFL future


For the Green Bay Packers, this past NFL season was a year marked by disappointment that is likely inspire the franchise to move on from their star quarterback, four-time league MVP and Super Bowl XLV champion Aaron Rodgers. However, before the Packers can make a decision on the future of their signal caller, they must first wait for Rodgers to reflect on the situation in his own unique way. The former AP Athlete of the Year has been spending time isolated in a dark room over multiple days for what he says is an opportunity to explore his trauma and alleviate anxiety.

As Green Bay stumbled through their first campaign since 2018 in which the team suffered a losing season and failed to win the NFC North Division, speculation has grown over an impending divorce between Rodgers and the Packers. NFL agent Drew Rosenhaus, who represents Rodgers’ teammate, Pro Bowl running back Aaron Jones, believes the Packers are “just ready to move on as a franchise” and that he has “doubt Aaron Rodgers comes back.” Meanwhile, longtime Packers beat writer Bob McGinn said sources have told him that the team has become “disgusted” with Rodgers as of late.

“As of right now, I’m convinced — based on my own instincts and knowing the NFL and knowing what happens after all these defeats and discussions with someone who has firsthand knowledge of this organization, of the Packers’ internal debates — that they are done with Rodgers,” said McGinn. “That’s the way it is right now, that he’s not coming back. They’re disgusted with him and they’re done with him and they’re moving on.”

While rumors regarding his future have swirled, Rodgers discussed his intention to embark on a darkness retreat during an appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show.” The room stayed in was “a partially underground structure devoid of light, with a queen bed, a bathroom and a meditation-like mat.” Rodgers’ went into this experience with hope that the sensory deprivation could help shed some light on where or even whether he wants to continue his NFL career.

“It’s going to be a little more time for my decision,” Rodgers told podcast host and former Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee. “I feel confident that in a couple of weeks I’ll feel definitely more strongly about one of the two decisions… just to be able to contemplate all things my future and then make a decision that I feel like is best for me moving forward.

Apart from meals delivered through a door slot, Rodgers had no contact with anyone during the retreat. The Packers’ all-time passing touchdowns leader has said this is something that has “been on my radar for a few years now,” and the whole experience can simulate the psychedelic drug DMT.

“It’s just sitting in isolation, meditation, dealing with your thoughts,” explained Rodgers. “It stimulates DMT, so there can be some hallucinations in there, but it’s just kind of sitting in silence, which most of us never do. We rarely even turn our phone off or put the blinds down to sleep in darkness.”

Rodgers said he has “had a number of friends who’ve done [the retreat]” and that they “had profound experiences.” The trip is something he has been “really looking forward to.” Although, if the experience became too overwhelming, there was an exit option for the quarterback.

“If it’s too much, then I’ll just walk out,” said Rodgers. “The door is unlocked. If you wanna leave, you leave.”

According to ESPN, the owner of the darkness retreat facility which Rodgers visited in southern Oregon said the football star ultimately decided to leave the location on Wednesday after having spent several days and nights there in self-isolation.

While the method of meditation chosen by Rodgers may sound peculiar, he is not the first athlete to experiment with sensory deprivation. Float tanks have become a popular method of physical and mental recovery, enclosing individuals in a lightless, soundproof tank which is partially filled with salt water. Utilized by sports icons like seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady and four-time NBA champion Lebron James, a study published by the National Library of Medicine has found this practice can significantly decrease stress, depression and pain.

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