Friday, April 26, 2013
Aaron Rodgers steps from the green room
By Kevin Seifert
Aaron Rodgers has never found a chip he couldn't haul onto his shoulder, so it wouldn't be a stretch to suggest he is marvelously pleased with the timing of his record-setting contract extension.
On April 23, 2005, Rodgers spent an uncomfortable afternoon in the green room at the NFL draft, famously waiting out 23 selections before the Green Bay Packers took him at No. 24 overall.
Almost exactly eight years later -- on April 26, 2013 -- Rodgers signed a deal that in financial terms confirmed he is the best player in the NFL. You would be na´ve to think Rodgers isn't keenly aware of that serendipity. I have no idea if it was his idea to announce the deal on the second day of the 2013 NFL draft, but if it was, I for one wouldn't be surprised.
Like most stars, Rodgers got to this point because he is athletic, a hard worker, a willing learner and an able leader. And make no mistake, plenty of prominent athletes are motivated by outside slights, real or imagined. But I have never run across a player who works so hard to locate, generate and churn through snubs than Rodgers.
There is no doubt he has had his share, from a lack of Division I college scholarship offers to his draft-day tumble to fans' initial lukewarm reaction to his ascension to the starting job in 2008. Yet Rodgers is quite adept, as we've learned over the years, in finding even the most minute slight.
Don't believe me? Consider what happened Friday afternoon, a few minutes before he gave a news conference to local reporters.
It appears that coach Mike McCarthy told him it had been eight years and two days since his brutal stint in the draft green room. Rodgers knew better.
"I said, 'Actually it was [eight years and] three days,'" Rodgers said. "I have a good memory. I'm driven to be the best. Obviously there is a couple less critics out there but I still put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve the goals I set for myself every year and enjoy trying to meet the challenge that those goals bring and opposing teams bring."
Yes, Rodgers hasn't forgotten that day. Thursday night, he found himself tweeting support to West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, who spent the entire first round in the green room. He said Friday that "there is light at the end of that tunnel."
Rodgers has long since stepped into that light, but my guess is he's keeping one foot in the dark, just for comfort's sake. It's worked so far.