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