From Chico to Favre, Ratliff follows Rodgers

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Not many people are aware of this, but when Brett Favre retires, there's a Northern California enclave where replacements frolic in a meadow, and coaches can pick one to take home.

Ratliff Rodgers
Chico, Calif., isn't exactly Aliquippa, Pa., when it comes to cultivating football players. But the town has sent two notable quarterbacks to nearby Butte Community College and then to the NFL.

The first was Aaron Rodgers, who replaced Favre last year with the Green Bay Packers. The next was Brett Ratliff, who could be the New York Jets' next quarterback now that Favre again has announced his retirement.

AFC West colleague Bill Williamson used to work in the area. He wrote to inform me Ratliff attended Chico High, and Rodgers went to the town's other school, rival Pleasant Valley High.

Neither received a Division I scholarship offer and hoped Butte could help them captivate recruiters. Rodgers went to Butte first and was dazzling enough to leave for Cal after one season.

Ratliff, 20 months younger, saw what Rodgers accomplished at Butte and succeeded him. Ratliff showed enough in two seasons at Butte that Utah targeted him to replace No. 1 draft pick Alex Smith.

Ratliff has the chance to continue on Rodgers' path from Chico to replacing Favre in the NFL.

"The way I prepare is I am going to be the starter no matter what, even if Brett was going to come back," Ratliff said Thursday on a conference call. "I would try to prepare myself as I was going to be the starter.

"I tried not to worry about what Brett was going to do. If he was going to come back, great. That is one more year that I would get to play under the guy and learn from him. If not, that is another great opportunity to be able to get a chance to battle for the starting position."