Category: Packer Reports

Rodgers:”Get Aboard Or Shut-Up”

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has done the national talk show circuit lately.

Two  appearances on “The Jim Rome Show” (heard 11am – 2pm weekdays on Milwaukee’s 1250 WSSP-AM) .  A guest spot on Romes’ network television show “Rome Is Burning”.

And he drew quite a crowd of national sports writers during the Packers most recent Mini Camp in mid-June. Some of the best NFL’s reporters in the business like Jason Cole, Yahoo Sports, and John Clayton, ESPN flew in just to do a sit down with Rodgers. 

They all had the same story angle. “What’s it going to be like taking over for Brett Favre? 

After three years of being asked the same question over and over “are you getting anxious to play?” it has now turned to “how can you follow a legend like Favre?” And with each of those interviews, the 24-year-old has handled it like a pro.  

Until now. 

In the latest Sports Illustrated, Rodgers was asked about his connection to the fans of the Green Bay Packers. How does he sell himself to a stadium full of generations of Packer backers still wearing their #4 jerseys?

Here is an excerpt of that article, written by SI’s Chris Ballard: 

“(Rodgers)  grew up admiring how athletes like Montana, David Robinson and Michael Jordan handled the press, and he can already mimic their measured, bland responses. He even has a checklist of sorts for interviews: Be available, be friendly, be brief and be "mostly honest."

On occasion, however, he forgets his own checklist and is perhaps too honest. Asked whether he feels pressure to connect with the fans the way Favre did, Rodgers answers unequivocally. "I don't feel I need to sell myself to the fans," he says. "They need to get on board now or keep their mouths shut."  

Oops. 

Fans need to get on board now? Get on board what?  

It took fans three years to get on board Brett Favre’s train. After the trip stopped short in Dallas a few times, it wasn’t until Favre hoisted the Super Bowl XXXI trophy that his whistle stop tour of Wisconsin carried all 72 counties in the state. 

It hasn’t been easy being Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay the last three years. Here’s a guy ( as John Madden might say ) who was a stand out in high school, did a great job at Cal.

Then on draft day, he sits there on live TV waiting to be picked, dropping like a rock in the first round. Finally he gets selected with the 24th pick, sent to Green Bay, the NFL's no-man’s land for back-up quarterbacks. Just another body to spend the first two or three years of his career watching Mr. Lucky, the Ironman Favre, rack up his consecutive streak of starts.  

"Why me?," Rodgers has asked himself over and over the past two seasons, knowing he had to think more in terms of Steve Young, and less Joe Montana, and others who had to wait to get their shot.

 

HEY ARRON, WHEN YA' COMIN' BACK? 

 

When the Packers played the 49ers in San Francisco in 2006, Rodgers was on crutches after breaking his foot against the Patriots. I happened to get on an elevator from the press box to the field, just as Rodgers was getting on, to get down to the field for the end of the game.

 

49ers fans were not pleased watching Alex Smith making mistakes for a second year.

 

As the elevator doors opened, a Packers security person and Rodgers looked back, and invited me to tag along to the locker room. 

 

Instantly the fans of Monster/Candlestick Park recognized their hero from Cal.

 

“Hey, look it’s Aaron Rodgers. Hey Aaron, come here and help us out!”.  

 

Everywhere. Fans stopping in their tracks. Rodgers has a following in his home territory, the bay area. He would have loved to have played for the team he followed as a kid.  

 

"There must be a reason for all of this," Rodgers has told me. The wait to play. And in Green Bay, not the San Francisco bay area. 

 

Last year at Packers offensive tackle Mark Tauscher’s golf outing for his Trifecta Foundation, Rodgers was waiting for his tee time by the golf carts at The Bull, Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin.

 

I was asking him what is there to do in Lake Tahoe. Everyone talks about it. I’d never been there, and I wanted to hear what he likes to do there. Rodgers hometown of Chico, CA is not far, and he goes to Tahoe regularly.

 

As he told me about the lake, the golf courses, the restaurants and resorts, a kind of goofy looking guy comes walking up, and interrupts our conversation. Although the man was all decked out in his K-Mart golf wear, he had to have some cash in his pocket to be on the course that day. 

 

“Hey Aaron,” the man says. “I’m so-and-so from Madison. You know my friend so-and-so from blah-blah. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know the newspaper in Madison is saying you’re never going to amount to much and they should trade you now. And they were saying the same thing on the radio the other day. I just wanted to let you know. Don’t know if you’d heard about it. Ok, ‘dere, (Wisconsin dialect) gotta go. Have a good day now.”  

 

“Ok, thanks.” Rodgers just smiled, thanked the man for his breaking news bulletin. Then looked back at me, shook his head a little. 

 

“It never ends for you, does it?,” I said. 

 

“Nope,” said Rodgers.

 

– Mike Clemens

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Mike Clemens