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.”

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More from The MMQB
139 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

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.

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.

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.

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.

SaturdayNightQB
SaturdayNightQB

Hey pack fans remember when Favre was your golden boy?  He could do no wrong... right?  Defending anybody's character when you don't really know them is a risky proposition.  ARod seems great and he probably is, but just take it at that.  Don't stake that flag in the mental certainty part of your brain.  You never know FOR SURE.

lenutria
lenutria

Interesting read. Absolute crap title.

Wisconsin Death Trip
Wisconsin Death Trip

He looks OLD in the photo provided......must be the "SAX" he's taking....

Richard--Ramirez
Richard--Ramirez

Total scumbag, pack fans will run him out of town just like they did favre.

NoThanksESPNFacebook
NoThanksESPNFacebook

I like all these Rodgers apologists on here trying to split hairs over what he said and why he shouldn't have to pay that bet. 

Look no one put a gun to his head and told him to post something stupid like that on Twitter. No one. That's great he was trying to stick up for his friend or whatever but he could have chosen any other way. He could have said "I don't believe it" or "Braun would never do that" or "Go pound sand, you don't know Braun like I do". What did he do? He bet a years salary. 

This guy is a welcher and has welched out on bets before. He couldn't even do something as simple as put on a jersey the last time he ran his mouth and bet someone. He could have taken it in stride and sent the guy maybe some game tickets, a jersey, a few dollars or hell even said something to him on Twitter and taken his lumps. He did none of the above and is sticking his head in the sand waiting for it all to go away.

This guy just needs to shut up and not put his foot in his mouth any more especially if he can't cash the checks his mouth writes(literally). 

Apologists can get in a big tizzy over this but at the core of the matter, you have a guy that doesn't keep his word. 


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.

gusCOYS
gusCOYS

@RichBich  

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

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.

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.

RoyalClough
RoyalClough

@SaturdayNightQB Nice job hiding behind a online name tag. We also stood by Brett when he was puking up Vicodin at the Espy's. All football players are human's with problems like the rest of us. I have no problem standing behind Aaron as a fan. I assume that you live a perfect life. But I also believe that Aaron is a good guy who doesn't deserve being anonymously slandered.

SarahTrump
SarahTrump

@SaturdayNightQB Kinda like the people that bash him and call him a scumbag don't really know, I guess that's the beauty of social media, people can say what they want without basis in truth or fact. I get what you are saying for sure, it's kind of my pet peeve when people say they "hate" or "love" a celebrity because the truth is they don't really know them, and things get so twisted in the media's portrayal. But, I do think I'm entitled to defend and stick up for what I believe about him, if others are entitled to attack, and defame him for what they believe about him... Am I right?

duckfan59
duckfan59

@Richard--Ramirez that's two, douche. What, in your bizarre mind, makes him a scumbag? Stole your girlfriend in high school and you still haven't gotten over it?

SarahTrump
SarahTrump

@Richard--Ramirez Really?!?  If you dislike him why did you waste your time reading the article? no really, I'm honestly curious why so many ass-hats like yourself spend so much time talking about him if you dislike him so. Help me understand, I've been looking for a logical answer to that question for a while. Why waste your time coming up with such a silly, stupid statement if he's such a "scumbag"?

Bucky182
Bucky182

@NoThanksESPNFacebook It's interesting but I'm not sure a Twitter comment would hold in the court of law. If anything, offer the guy a couple tickets for his suite at a game of his choice, sign a few things, take a couple pictures, and move on. It's the least he could do. I'd like to at least see him address the matter at some point but it really isn't as big of a deal as people make it out to be. I've made million dollar bets with friends before--because I thought I was so certain I would win--and lost. At the most I bought my buddy a case of beer or something. We'll have to wait until the Supreme Court rules on the validity of bets made over social media.

docg66
docg66

@NoThanksESPNFacebook

Some people think they are smart and pretend to thrive by being critical jerks. So, if I tell a friend or my kid "If you do that I'm going to kick your azzz!", Am I a lier if I don't follow through when they do the dirty deed? Do you understand figurative language? He used language in a specific way to say, "I believe and trust my friend", which only makes him guilty of being a good and loyal friend (to someone who betrayed him). Just because his (ex) friend let him down does not change the true context and meaning of his language and the "I'd bet my paycheck" statement. Selective criticism like this, turning figurative language into a verbal contract, comes from jerks and hypocrites. No intelligence involved. 

Have a nice day.

Be real and stay real.

SarahTrump
SarahTrump

@NoThanksESPNFacebook Hairs split both ways you know. No one made him say what he said. The same as no one will make him give the money over. If he can't hold up a bargain, you'd think people wouldn't put stock in it anymore. And the check would be a pain to have endorsed, who do we make it out to again??? All of "twitter-verse", if someone didn't see the tweet, do they still get there portion. Yea, see I'm missing the part where someone took his bet, and they settled who he would give the money to and when... pretty sure that's crucial...

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.

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.

Larry3
Larry3

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

SaturdayNightQB
SaturdayNightQB

@ST Defend him for sure, but its a slippery slope.  You don't want to end up like ARod did and have egg on your face, or worse that feeling down the road of betrayal.  We can all say what we want on social media, where it matters is what you believe.

NoThanksESPNFacebook
NoThanksESPNFacebook

@SarahTrump @NoThanksESPNFacebook I think you read a very small amount of what I wrote and started sme by-the-numbers-defense of him. 

He can't hold up a bargain. This isn't the first time he has backed out and ignored people after he ran his mouth and came up on the losing side of things. I don't think any reasonable person expects him to give millions of dollars to a stranger even though he was stupid enough to put that out there. What people do expect though is to at least be a man and reach out to the one guy that started this whole scenario. 

You can sit here with all your semantics and hypotheticals in your blind hero-worship of the guy but the bottom line is that no one forced him to write what he did and he will be called out until he owns up to what he put. If you want to ignore that fact like he does, that's all well and good but typing that nonsense is an insult to everyone's intelligence.


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.

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.  

SarahTrump
SarahTrump

@SaturdayNightQB But I guess that's my whole point, He was on social media, said what he wanted to without a thought to the truth. And I guess that is where I get irked, I see people bashing him for saying something on social media that was not true in the end, when they are calling him scum, when more than likely that's not true. Does that make sense? Pot calling the kettle black kind of thing... And with that I kind of feel entitled to call attention to that injustice. See, I am a Packer fan, a fan or Aarons, I love a good argument, so really for me it's not a slope, I'm already downhill, I bleed green and gold, so as long as I think about what I write before I write it I don't see the harm in adding in my two cents and playing their "devils advocate"

DaveVanHandel
DaveVanHandel

@NoThanksESPNFacebook @SarahTrump Did somebody take him up on the bet?  Seriously, I don't remember hearing someone say they'd take that bet.   I do agree he should give the guy something, the question is, who is the guy?


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