aaron-rodgers-story

Aaron Rodgers, From the Heart

The Packers QB speaks his mind about Favre, Braun, Jennings, media saturation and the dream of disappearing

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers, halfway through his career? Already? This is his ninth NFL season. He turns 30 in December. With the best career passer rating in NFL history (104.9), he’s already proved to be a worthy heir to Brett Favre. It was an active offseason for Rodgers, with a formerly rocky relationship with Favre recently repaired, a new $130 million contract, a split in his friendship with the Brewers’ Ryan Braun over the latter’s involvement with PEDs, and heavy criticism from former Packers receiver Greg Jennings. On Tuesday, The MMQB’s editor-in-chief, Peter King, met with Rodgers in a Lambeau Field break room. Rodgers, downing a grape energy drink, was expansive. His thoughts on …

Priorities

“I’ve gotten to learn what’s important in life and what’s not important, and what to spend energy on and what not to. I don’t have a family like some of my teammates, but I have a lot of things pulling at me that I have to put my energy into. I love my charity work. I love my privacy. I love my offseason. I don’t have time to really worry or think about things that are just negatively based and negatively energized. They’re draining. It’s just not what I want to do. So, instead I try to focus on things that are uplifting and give me energy and give me life.”

Favre

“I was very energized by seeing Brett at the NFL Awards at the Super Bowl, and being able to talk to him for the first time in forever. I think that was a good thing for him and me, for the future of the organization, and hopefully the fans as well. It was a time for healing. I definitely had trepidation going in. I just didn’t know how he was going to be. But we talked on the phone the night before, and it was good to talk to him. I knew the second we hung up that it was going to be a good thing. He was joking around, I was joking around. We were remembering some funny old stories, and I just knew that we were both in the right spot mentally. I was backstage with him, Joe Montana and the Mannings—Peyton, Eli and Archie. And a bunch of other people walked in and out, but I got a really sweet pic from that night with Peyton, me and Brett. We’ve talked a few times since, and texted. We’re good. I’m very happy about it.”

Braun

“The thing with Ryan was very tough, because he and I were very close friends, and he let me stick my neck out for him and wasn’t honest with me. That’s not something you can let just wash over you—you have to sit with that and deal with that, and it’s frustrating. I’m dealing with it.”

Jennings

“People taking shots at me who aren’t relevant to this team and to this locker room doesn’t mean a whole lot to me. Those comments do wash over with me without a reaction, because they don’t matter.”

Leadership

“I take it really seriously. It’s important to me. I look for my opportunities, not trying to go outside of my genuine realm, because leadership has to be genuine and authentic. I might pull a receiver aside and give him a little tidbit in the locker room, in the lunchroom. I think you need to be intentional at times about your leadership—where you’re eating lunch, who you’re interacting with, making guys feel like you’re interested in what they’re doing. If it’s authentic, then it’s going to be an easy conversation and easy hangout time. Nicknames and inside jokes go a long way with players, especially guys that maybe aren’t on your side of the ball. Like, I just found out that Andy Mulumba, our new outside backer [full name Andy Leon Mulumba Kabaluapa; he was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo]—one of his name means ‘King of the Village’ and the other one means, ‘You’re Not Welcome Here.’ Instead of calling him You’re Not Welcome Here, I’ve been calling him King of the Village.

I want to be the best. I want to be counted on by my teammates. I want to be counted on by this organization and the fans. I want to be someone they know is going to bring it every single week. I prepare to be the best. I train in the offseason to be the best. I take it very seriously, and I’ve still got a long way to go.”

Improving

“Tom Brady told me after the ’07 season—we got to play a little golf, and I picked his brain—that you should work on at least one or two things every offseason. So, I took that to heart and picked a few things every year to really try to focus on in the offseason. One year it was ball-handling; I wanted to be really good with fakes. One year it was eye control—making sure that I looked off every single time I threw. This season we went through the cutups in the spring, and one thing that stood out was deep balls. We weren’t as efficient as we had been in the past this year on deep balls, so I really focused on my deep throws—especially to the left. I was missing some out of bounds. I also lifted heavier and harder than I have in probably six years.”

The Opposition

“Jared Allen is probably the best pass rusher I face, but the two guys starting to give us real issues are Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. Really good players. Bright futures.”

Health

“Nutrition’s big to me. I don’t want to give away all of my secrets. It’s really not much—80 percent of the time eating every three hours with carbs and proteins. Smaller portions, less sauces, less sugars, and getting your metabolism up. The other 20 percent? Ice cream, and frozen mochas from Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.”

Relaxing

“I love going to the beach and putting my feet in the sand. I hike—there’s some fun trails around North County, above San Diego. I love golf, and I got to play with Brian Urlacher at that American Century tournament in Tahoe last month. Brian was a blast. He shoots in the 70s—really good.”

Money

“I signed that new contract this offseason. Money’s a blessing, but it can’t buy you happiness. It can help with the burdens of future generations. With what we do, you have to find your identity outside the game, outside the fame. You have to have people outside the game keep you in line.”

The Future

“After football? I’d like to semi-disappear. I love the game. The game’s been incredible to me. But disappearing’s good too. Disappearing to me is not being on TV, not being on the radio. I’d like to coach somewhere at a high school, trying to help the next generation, trying to help the next kid overcome the odds and be the best he can be.”

The Media

“I love our game, but to me, there’s too much access. It’s way over the top. From the camera in the locker room, from the center being miked, to all the attention … Everybody’s watching. Everybody’s listening. And social media: If I’m out, more than likely, there’s going to be a camera on me, and a picture or video’s going to show up somewhere.

“I feel bad for Johnny Manziel. I mean, he’s made some decisions … I just think, he’s a 20-year-old kid, and I wish he could just live like a 20-year-old.

“Ten years ago, when I was in college, nobody was following anyone around. I could walk around campus [at Cal] and no one knew who I was. No Twitter. Facebook was just starting. I didn’t even know what my Berkeley.edu address was. I couldn’t get a Facebook page. So that’s how things have changed.

“I don’t do Instagram. I don’t want people to know where I am.”

The 2013 Season

“We open with San Francisco. [Big grin.] I’d like to open with a team that maybe wasn’t as good. But it’ll be good to see where we stand.”

140 comments
HunterMichaelGlotz
HunterMichaelGlotz

I think the media really has some people "brainwashed." They blew the Jennings and Driver comments WAY out of proportion. Driver had nothing but good things to say about ARod, and the media completely twisted what he said to add juiciness to the "drama." Rodgers seems like a great guy, and very low-key. You guys should research what he does with the MACC Fund on YouTube. Great stuff. I'd love my daughter to date this man.

MikeGoymerac
MikeGoymerac

Class Act!  We are so lucky to have him in Green Bay; he's a tribute to all sports and not just football......his parents must be special  in the way he was raised.people

Sparky3338
Sparky3338

@MikeGoymerac Really. When Donald even rips the Prima Donna. Are all Packer fans brainwashed except me. What other player has ad's on TV saying looking at me showing up at Timmy's house, go to Gruber.com to see outlook. Most players want there things like that kept quiet. Jon Cena has done over 350 Make a wishes. You don't see him on Tv about it. He just does it.

beekay31
beekay31

@Sparky3338 @MikeGoymerac Show me where Rodgers is on tv about it.  Like the rest, you have absolutely nothing on Rodgers so you're forced to grasp for straws for reasons to hate the fact he's not the starting QB for your team.  That's the shallowness you boil down to.

Sparky3338
Sparky3338

@beekay31 @Sparky3338 @MikeGoymerac I will guess you are just an Aaron Rodgers kissa** beekay. And blind also. They have the David Gruber Aaron Rodgers commercials all the time. Tell how many great things he does for the less fortunate or the ones that are truly sick. I think all players should do it. Just not self promote it. Don't see Driver on tv everyday talking about what he does for charity.

Andy Hurst
Andy Hurst

@Sparky3338 @MikeGoymerac  Jon Cena is an actor buddy. And I've seen an ESPN special report on Cena's make a wish roles. It's easier when you can give a kid a cheap ticket to wrestling show. And when Rodgers was asked about that he said he didnt want cameras there. I guess you have to have a brain to be brainwashed. Stop being so negative hes not Ryan Braun.

Riverwalker
Riverwalker

Rodgers...message from your blind side....LOOOOOK OOOOOOOUUUUTTTT!!!

RichBich
RichBich

He sounds like a jerk! I certainly wouldn't a man with his disposition. Bet he makes an awful boyfriend.

gusCOYS
gusCOYS

@RichBich  

How did you get that from his interview?  I thought he was quite candid actually

Kevin71
Kevin71

With Favre and then Rodgers the Packers have had back to back future HOF QB's. I don't see Rodgers doing anything but get better. I think he's the best QB in the NFL today. He's also a born again Christian and his faith in God is strong and very important to him. A winner all the way around.

Larry3
Larry3

@YaskY Why be an ass about things you don't understand?

Adam Sorensen
Adam Sorensen

@TheSconnieNationYaskY @Larry3 The, if you guys are so 100% certain that God is nothing more than a "fictional character", then let's make a deal.  If you swear on whatever it is that you hold dear - family, money, self, being an arrogant apologist for atheism, whatever it is - that if by some tiny chance you wake up in an afterlife and see a previously departed loved one such as your parents, grandparents, spouse - you will immediately reject them, tell them to stay away forever and leave you alone to rot in he**.  Promise us that, please.  This should be easy for you.  If you are so 100% committed to your tough talk, then you sure better be willing without hesitation to reject the tiniest chance any loved one may be waiting on the other side to help you over.  Do it now, Sconnie and Yask.  Any wavering at all now or iat anytime in the future on this and you are either a hypocrite or not as faithless as you so loudly, and strangely, proudly profess.  

sodaknick
sodaknick

I'm a big time Vikings fan and I'd love to hate Rogers, but he just seems like a good guy and he's definitely someone I'd like playing for the Purple (seems like we've been down that road before...). I felt the same way about Favre (until he played for us). I wish him the best in life and total utter failure on the field.  

Richard--Ramirez
Richard--Ramirez

1 more concussion and he's out of the league, wouldn't mind.

duckfan59
duckfan59

@Richard--Ramirez agree with bunko. that's pretty douche-y richard ramirez. if you don't like him or his team that's one thing - to wish him career-ending injury is another.

OraPike
OraPike

to be able to take over from a legend and basically do your own thing and win a superbowl says it all.  Class act.

jdrouse
jdrouse

  I personally don't know Ray Lewis but I've seen enough of him to  determine that he's not a nice man. Some of the "real" person comes out on the TV screen.

SandbagSix
SandbagSix

I'm a Bears fan, but I've never had anything but respect for Rodgers. Great QB, class guy.

Joe R2
Joe R2

@SandbagSix 

I"m a Bears fan and I hate Aaron Rodgers.  Nothing personal against him, but he plays for the rivals and he's damn good.

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