ERIN ANDREWS’ ONE-ON-ONE WITH AARON RODGERS
Andrews: You don’t need me to set this out. I mean, the NFC Championship is back at Lambeau. If last week felt normal, how do you think this week is going to feel?
Rodgers: “I think normal as well. I mean, it’s been 13 years since we hosted an NFC Championship. I remember that day. Yeah, it’s been a while.”
Andrews: Last year you had told me you remember 14, after you lost to Seattle, and you said you were just in shock. Do you ever reflect on the emotions on those NFC Championships?
Rodgers: “All the time. I think there’s a lot of lessons to be learned from your experiences and for me, in my sport, I’ve had a lot of them. A lot of highs and then some tough ones as well. The one thing you definitely take with them is that emotion, remembering how you felt when it’s just kind of over. Sitting with that, I think, is important. Not running away from it or not acknowledging it. Sitting with it and understanding how special it is, because the opposite of that highest of high is that sadness because you put so much into it.”
Andrews: Everyone believes that you’re on your way to your third MVP of your career. But you’re really trying to savor the moment this year. What has it allowed you to enjoy more this year that maybe you hadn’t in years past?
Rodgers: “Well, I think it’s just all the little things that are so special that pass by most people without thinking about them. Sometimes you’ve got to pinch yourself and realize how special it is. You know, we fly private. We have police escorts. It’s not real. Like, it’s not real life. This whole thing is about the experience and the journey and there’s just cool moments along the way. The conversations you can have. If you maybe take your headphones off and engage with the person next to you. I think there’s a lot of cool moments that you might miss if you’re putting it on autopilot and kind of flying through the season.”
Andrews: Speaking of Tom…You’ve been here before. He’s been here before. How do you manage the magnitude of this game, this moment?
Rodgers: “Well, EA, this is what we do.”
Andrews: But still, I don’t care how much you’re paid or how long you have been doing it, it’s massive.
Rodgers: “If it was easy, everybody could do it. That’s why we’re in this position, because it isn’t easy. You know, when the playoffs kind of shut down and you saw the seven teams, I felt like, you know, at some point we’re going to have to beat Tampa to get to the Super Bowl. And if we’re out there doing what we’re supposed to do, we’re going to be there right at the end.”
MICHAEL STRAHAN’S ONE-ON-ONE WITH TOM BRADY
Strahan: All right. This piece is starting with a quote that you made saying, ‘Yeah, the cold weather is something I’m definitely not going to…’
Brady: “…miss. I don’t know if I’m going to see the cold weather outside of ski season.”
Strahan: Welcome to Green Bay, baby!
Brady: “Here we go. I know. Let’s figure this out. Came back to bite me a little bit, but if I’m going to be in the cold…Green Bay in January is a pretty good place to be.”
Strahan: I remember telling the guys, ‘Cold is temporary. Winning is forever.’
Brady: “I like that. I like that. We’ve got an opportunity to do something about it. Sometimes you’re never in this position, or sometimes you work hard and get a bad bounce, or sometimes you’re injured. This is the year where you’ve got to take advantage because there are four really good football teams left.”
Strahan: Yeah. You said getting to the championship game is actually harder than the Super Bowl. What did you mean by that? Why do you think that’s the case?
Brady: “Winning a road playoff game is a very difficult thing to do. When it’s the Super Bowl, there’s a neutral site, two weeks to prepare and a team you don’t know very well. I think there’s just a lot of familiarity with these interconference teams. When you look at the schedule every year, you think, ‘All right. Green Bay’s going to be in it, like they’ve been in every year since Aaron’s been playing.’ And they’ve got a great defense. They’ve got playmakers.”
Strahan: Sounds like you’re trying to kind of butter them up a little bit if they see this.
Brady: “You taught me better than anyone how to butter people up. Nobody can butter people up quite like you.”
Strahan: Have you really sat back and thought about this? Very little offseason, new players, new coaches, new city, COVID…all these adjustments and you’re one game away from a Super Bowl. That really is amazing.
Brady: “Yeah. That would be an amazing accomplishment, but you don’t get to the championship game by winning one game. You’ve got to go the distance. You’ve got to play 16.”
Brady: “So if you want to go to the next step, you’ve got to play great football against the best teams, and that’s what the Packers are all about.”
Strahan: What kind of game…you against Aaron Rodgers? Hand it off, run the ball or do you want a passing shootout?
Brady: “I like that [on passing shootout]. That would be pretty fun. I don’t know. Look, he shoots it out as good as anybody. He’s an incredible player, the way he can throw the football. He’s one of a kind. He’s one of the great quarterbacks in NFL history. So it’s one football game. We know there’s a lot at stake. It’s got to be our best football. It’s got to be our best plays. And it’s got to be everyone executing at their highest. The fact that we’re in this position means we’re prepared. We’re four quarters away.”