Rodgers’ finest feat? Making Favre an afterthought

On the list of Aaron Rodgers’ accomplishments in three seasons

as the Green Bay Packers’ starting quarterback, one stands out as

being something that really didn’t seem possible when he first took

over as the starter.

He made Brett Favre an afterthought in Green Bay.

Going into Sunday’s NFC championship game against the Bears in

Chicago, Rodgers is the undisputed face of the Packers, and his

success in the playoffs is winning over almost anyone who still had

doubts about his place among the NFL’s elite quarterbacks.

”I think he’s definitely the quarterback we all hoped he would

become,” coach Mike McCarthy said. ”He was a young talented

quarterback, had a very bright future, and now we’re in year three

of his development and he’s definitely developed into a special

player. He does it the right way. He’ll break them down physically,

mentally. He’s in a great rhythm right now.”

He certainly made a believer out of veteran Packers wide

receiver Donald Driver.

”I love him,” Driver said. ”I don’t know if you can put words

to it but he’s playing like one of the best quarterbacks in the

game, if not the best.”

Rodgers might not have made the Pro Bowl this season, but

there’s no shortage of praise coming his way after a dominant

performance in last Saturday’s playoff rout of Atlanta. Rodgers has

been particularly sharp since he sustained his second concussion of

the season and sat out the Packers’ Dec. 19 loss at New


Bears linebacker Lance Briggs said he isn’t bothered by all the

national attention on Rodgers.

”No, that’s all it is, it’s a sign of respect for what the

Packers and Aaron Rodgers have been able to do,” Briggs said.

”They have been doing a lot of that this whole year. Credit is


Rodgers appreciates the praise from fellow players, fans and

pundits, but doesn’t think he deserves it – not yet.

”We have to put some more hardware around here,” Rodgers


It once seemed as if Rodgers would never escape comparisons with

Favre. But with No. 4 now retired – perhaps even for good this time

– Rodgers finally is free.

Well, mostly.

Favre interjected himself into the national conversation about

the Bears-Packers rivalry this week, telling ESPN in an e-mail that

Rodgers is ”the best” quarterback remaining in the playoffs and

paying compliments to the Packers’ receivers and defense.

”I think they will win it all! I hope they do, if you are

wondering,” Favre said in his e-mail to the network.

Some fans snickered throughout Wisconsin. No, they really

weren’t wondering.

When asked about Favre’s comment, Rodgers’ response was upbeat

but brief.

”Any time I’m getting a comment like that from somebody who’s

had a ton of success in the NFL, it’s quite an honor,” Rodgers


And that’s about the most Rodgers and the Packers have said

about their former quarterback in recent weeks.

With the Packers still scrambling to make the playoffs in

December, somebody asked Rodgers whether his apprenticeship under

Favre helped or hurt his career.

”I’ll be honest with you, man, I’ve answered that question a

gazillion times,” Rodgers said then. ”So I don’t really want to

go back into that. Especially not this week.”

And after the Packers beat the Vikings at the Metrodome in

November, McCarthy was asked whether his team might finally be rid

of the Favre-driven circus.

”I’m rid of it; you need to get rid of it,” McCarthy said at

the time.

Rodgers hit the toughest stretch of his season a few weeks after

that Vikings game, sustaining his second concussion of the season

against Detroit and sitting out against New England. Rodgers said

he was proud of the way backup Matt Flynn played against the

Patriots, but missed playing himself.

”When you go from being a backup for three years to the

starter, you just relish those opportunities,” Rodgers said. ”And

when it gets kind of taken away from you, it’s just really tough to

not be able to get back in the game.”

Rodgers has been hotter than ever since returning, leading the

Packers to back-to-back wins to make the playoffs. His standout

play has continued in the postseason.

”Aaron is a very consistent player and it probably stems from

his personality,” McCarthy said. ”He is clearly one of the most

consistent quarterbacks that I have had the opportunity to work

with. He is the same person every day. He doesn’t swing with the

highs and lows of how the season is going or how our practice is

going, and I think it really carries over to the playing