Like Aaron, Jordan Rodgers motivated by draft slight
Like his big brother, Jordan Rodgers plans to turn a draft slight into fuel to succeed in the NFL.
By PAUL IMIGFS Wisconsin
There's a part of Jordan Rodgers that wanted to join the Green Bay Packers. Playing alongside his older brother Aaron would have had its benefits, the most important of which is learning behind one of the NFL's best quarterbacks and a former league MVP. There would also have been a downside to it, especially the pressure that would have accompanied being the sibling teammate of a star player.
But Jordan never had to make that decision of whether to join Aaron in Green Bay, as the Packers never expressed any interest in the younger Rodgers after he went undrafted.
"If I would've played with Aaron, there's not a single person in this league that would be more genuinely invested in making me a better quarterback," Jordan Rodgers told FOXSportsWisconsin.com in a phone interview Friday. "Aaron would be the most invested in wanting to get me better. It's not that other people can't mentor me, but to have an older brother in a spot like that, he'd always have been helpful to me.
"If I did go there (to Green Bay), there'd be people who said I only got a shot because my brother is there, which wouldn't have been the case and clearly isn't the case. Going to my own spot to establish myself, not being in his shadow, not with expectations like his, it's good."
Jordan, who started 20 games at quarterback for Vanderbilt, had multiple offers on the table as an undrafted free agent last weekend. His decision of where to sign was ultimately between the
Jacksonville Jaguars and the Detroit Lions. Those were the two teams he and his agent felt presented the best opportunity for Jordan to make the roster as a rookie.
Jordan decided not to sign with the Packers' divisional rival in Detroit and instead packed his bags for Jacksonville.
"We were focused on those two teams because of the personnel at the position, but (the Jaguars) were the best opportunity," Jordan said. "They provide one of the better opportunities you can ask for as a free-agent quarterback. There's only two (quarterbacks) on the roster, and most teams have three or maybe four.
"It just leaves a lot of opportunity for guys like me to get my foot in the door."
The two quarterbacks on Jacksonville's roster are Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne. In addition to Jordan Rodgers, the Jaguars also signed undrafted quarterback Matt Scott (Arizona).
Aaron was in Green Bay going through offseason workouts during the draft, so he wasn't able to be with his brother. Aaron did have advice for Jordan, though.
"Just to be patient," Jordan said was the message. "He wanted me to try as much as I can to not focus or not stress over what I can't control. What I can control is how I'll perform when I got to a team. I knew I'd get an opportunity, and it's up to me to make the most of it whether I got drafted or not. If you can play, you'll get to play, regardless of that."
A few hours after Aaron signed the biggest contract in NFL history on the afternoon of Day 2 of the draft, his younger brother seemed to be on his mind just as much as the $110 million deal he'd just agreed to.
"Hopefully he gets in a situation where he can compete for a backup job because a lot of times it's about the opportunity and the place you're at as much as it is about your immediate ability to be successful," Aaron said.
Jordan, 24, is five years younger than Aaron, but he's confident that he's better than his big brother in at least one area on the football field.
"I think athletically, I have the edge," Jordan said. "He'll admit that. He has better arm strength, though. No one is in his league right now in that department. We're similar quarterbacks because I model my game after him, I watch a lot of film on him. But no one on the planet is on the same plane with how he's playing."
Jordan wasn't invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, which he perceived as a slight. Based on the feedback he was getting, he also expected to get drafted somewhere in the late rounds. Several teams even called Jordan during Day 3 of the draft to express interest, but it didn't pan out.
Given the much-publicized chip on Aaron's shoulder for sliding all the way to the 24th overall pick in the 2005 draft, Jordan has 230 more reasons to carry a chip with him after not being one of the 254 players selected this year.
"I've carried my chip with me my entire career," Jordan said. "I've had to fight and claw for every position I've had. I sat on the bench as a junior in high school, I had to compete my senior year in high school to get the job, I competed again at Vanderbilt before having success. Just carrying that and factoring in the Combine; I deserved to be there.
"This is the path I've taken my whole career. I'm not angry, it's just more motivation to want to succeed."
Aaron has no doubt whatsoever that Jordan will eventually achieve that success in the NFL.
"The ultimate cool thing for a big brother is to see your little brother pass you up," Aaron told FOXSportsWisconsin.com in December 2011. "For him to get a level where he's playing better than me would be my dream. I'm a competitor, and it's tough to say, but I think any big brother would love to see your little brother exceed your success.
"Pretty soon they won't be talking about me when they're talking about him."