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Rodgers is Packers' dream machine

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Pam Oliver

Since joining the NFL on FOX team in 1995, Pam Oliver has established herself as one of the premier sports reporters on network television. She contributes feature stories and sideline reports for "FOX NFL Sunday" and reports from the NFL on FOX's top game.

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We all have them. Those recurring nightmares that can jolt you awake. Mine happens to be missing a Super Bowl on FOX because I had written down the wrong date. I compared notes with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the subject for some reason and I learned that he has three consistently bad dreams.

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1. He’s late for work. “That one sucks because I wake up and it’s like 3:30 (in the morning),” Rodgers says.

2. He’s slept past a 7 p.m. game start and doesn’t get to the stadium until 8:30. “They won’t let me go in the second half.”

3. A common work-related horror. But this nightmare is not confined to sleeping hours. “Sometimes I catch myself when I’m out for pre-game warm-ups,” he says. “I’m running on the field and I forget to put my pants on. So if you catch me looking down right as I’m running on the field ... it’s to double-check that I do have my pants on.”

For the Packers' faithful, Rodgers might as well be wearing a Superman cape. He hasn’t exactly shriveled under the weight of replacing Brett Favre. Four thousand yards in each of his first two seasons as a starter has never been done before in NFL history. Feats like that will no doubt add to the expanding number of fans won over in Titletown.

Dallas Cowboys great Troy Aikman collected three Super Bowl rings on his way to the Hall of Fame but never threw for 4,000 yards in a season. Ever. But Aikman’s praise for Rodgers goes deeper than the 26-year-old’s athletic ability — which is a given, Aikman believes, for an elite NFL quarterback.

“Like most of the NFL’s QBs he has all the physical skills necessary. But to me, it’s his cool demeanor that separates him from the pack,” Aikman says. “He has shown tremendous poise and maturity to go along with one of the best QB performances in club history.”

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The Chico, Calif., native learned in high school that tantrums or open disgust directed at yourself or teammates doesn’t exhibit leadership or a healthy head. If he wasn’t so personable, Rodgers could be mistaken for a Stepford Wife or for just plain dull.

“Film shows if you’re showing up a teammate or are a little rattled by something or just not stoic,” he said. “I was fortunate when I was a younger player in high school to have coaches that really stressed controlling my body language ... (to) realize that I’m being watched at all times. I think guys can count on me to be the guy to keep his cool and keep his confidence.”

Self-assuredness clearly plays a big part in the success of a quarterback at this level and Rodgers attributes his own accomplishments to playing in a quarterback-friendly offense and having a coach who allows him freedom to thrive.

“On the other side of that I’m throwing it to a top-flight receiver group and in my opinion the best tight end in the NFL in (third-year pro) Jermichael Finley,” Rodgers says.

I was plagued with a nightmare scenario before Rodgers called from Green Bay on Thursday. BlackBerry apathy sinks me sometimes. I hardly know where the thing is at a given moment. But in anticipation of our conversation I kept it strapped to my hip ... buying a $30 holster the day before. I panicked while shopping for a raincoat at Nordstrom’s, hitting the wrong button on the BlackBerry and missing his first attempt to reach me.

Rain is expected Sunday when the Packers visit the Philadelphia Eagles and my jacket is really nice. Expect a report from the sidelines should Rodgers forget how nice britches can be.

Tagged: Packers, Aaron Rodgers

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