Aaron Rodgers sat down with packers.com Editor Vic Ketchman to provide fans with this look at the Packers' star quarterback.
Q. How has Tom Clements aided in your development?
A. Tom has been as big as anybody in my development and in my success. He’s a tireless worker, he’s a great teacher, has never allowed me to become complacent, always working on things. I think I owe a lot of my success to being under his tutelage.
Q. What is it about Mike McCarthy’s system that has promoted such success?
A. I think (Sunday) shows Matt is a pretty good quarterback. We’ve got the right kind of players here.
Q. What are your thoughts on what Matt Flynn did against the Lions? That was stunning.
A. He played great. It wasn’t that stunning if you know Matt and you kind of know the work he puts in. We’re fortunate enough here to have three quarterbacks. It says Matt has a chance to be a star in this league.
Q. You’ve called 2002, when you were at Butte Community College, the most important year in your development. Why?
A. It was a big year for my confidence. I played real well. I learned a lot about leadership. We had a bunch of different guys on that team from different parts of the country: local guys, older guys, guys who had been away to the military, jail, been out, obviously. It was a good year to learn how to be a leader to a number of different guys from different backgrounds, not having had that in high school. When you go from high school and think you have a chance to be a pretty good player and nobody wants you, it’s humbling. You have a chance to play and play well and people offer you a scholarship; it gives you a lot of confidence.
Q. The Thursday Night Football game at Dallas in 2007, what did it mean to you?
A. That was good. It was good to play well, but I think it meant more to my teammates to see me play well. They had seen me play in the preseason a couple of years, but I hadn’t gotten extended minutes. I think it meant a lot to them to see the potential I had.
Q. What in your career has surprised you?
A. I can’t say a whole lot has surprised me. I had always hoped for an opportunity to play and prepared to be successful. I think I’ve worked hard for things that have come our way as a team and individually.
Q. Did you always want to become a quarterback? Is it everything you’ve imaged it would be or more?
A. I did always want to become a professional athlete. I loved Joe Montana, Steve Young, Michael Jordan growing up and anybody on the Giants and A’s. I always enjoyed having the ball in my hands; point guard in basketball, pitcher in baseball, goalie or forward in soccer, so I liked being in a position of pressure and prominence. I think it’s more than you dream about when you’re a kid, as far as the excitement and the opportunities and just the playing itself. There are also some things that come with you that you really don’t know what to expect when you really don’t know what it’s like to be a professional athlete: increased scrutiny, the lack of privacy, the attention you get, the fame and everything that comes with that; a lot of really good things and a lot of things that have become a part of life.
Q. Are you happy in Green Bay?
A. I am. I’d like to be here my entire career. I hope they feel the same way about me. I’ve had some success. I hope to have a little bit more this year and I hope we can get something done in the future and finish out my time here. I think being from the West Coast and living in Southern California, you really appreciate the people that live here. People care about you. The idea of a neighborhood means more here. They’re looking out for each other, stopping and saying hello when you’re driving through the neighborhood. When they ask you how you’re doing, they care about the response. It’s not just something to start a conversation. It’s a special place. The people here are very passionate about the team. There aren’t as many distractions here as you’d get in the big cities. There’s nothing else competing with you here because we’re the only show in town. Those are all good things. The way the organization treats you. I have friends in different places; it gives you a better appreciation when other guys come here from other places. It just reaffirms how special the connection is between the organization and the players.
Q. Just how good are you at playing guitar? Self-taught or are you taking lessons?
A. Average, I’d like to say. I can play a handful of songs. I’m decent at reading and interpreting music. I like to hear something and figure out what the chord progression is. I started playing because I was a big Ben Harper fan and always wanted to play his song, “Forever.” That kind of spurred me on to play guitar. I was self-taught the first couple of years. I ended up taking lessons here in Green Bay. It’s a side passion of mine.
Q. Players always credit their fathers for getting them involved, teaching them the game. How did your mother influence the kind of player and leader you’ve become?
A. She was very supportive. She was a cheerleader in high school and a cheerleader at heart. She just wanted her boys to enjoy what they were doing, to work as hard as they could at it, and to see things through. That was kind of the one rule. If you started a sport you had to see it all the way through and deal with the ups and downs of a season, be a good teammate and just enjoy playing the game. They were both very supportive and never pushed me beyond what I wanted to do, but always very encouraging.
Q. Your brother Jordan is a quarterback at Vanderbilt. Did the two of you have backyard games? Were you competitors?
A. Not really because he’s four-and-a-half years younger. Luke and I were more the competitors; a lot of one-on-one basketball in the front yard. I played whiffle ball and street hockey; you name it, we played it. We’re closer in age; we’re 18 months apart.
Q. What do you see in Jordan? Do you think he has a future in football?
A. I think he does. He’s got a great work ethic. He really cares about it and wants to be successful. He wants to play past college. He’s got the drive. You need that drive. You see it in the NFL. I’ve seen it for seven years. The guys that stick around are self-motivated. If you want to be good in this league, you have to be able to push yourself. This is a full-time job and you can tell the guys that spend time working at their craft in the offseason, and the guys that are just players in the season when they have to be. Jordan has great drive to be successful. He’s very mentally tough, physically tough. He has a lot of confidence and those are kind of the top three things you need to have as a quarterback.
Q. Aside from guitar, any other hobbies or off-the-field interests?
A. I like to play golf. It’s probably the most frustrating sport ever invented. It’s frustrating to watch TV and see those guys hit it so consistently, and then go out to your local course and hit a bunch of good shots and then shank a couple and scald a couple, chunk a couple, but it’s a really fun game. It challenges you because it’s not something you ever totally get the hang of.
Q. What do quarterbacks say to each other when they meet at midfield?
A. It depends on the relationship. It is a close fraternity of guys in the league. You know some of these guys through different charity deals or the ESPYs or golf events. It’s fun to compete against them. Some of these guys you work out with in the offseason and you have a better relationship, some you played against in college. There’s a lot of respect between quarterbacks, both starters and guys that might be on the bench and you played with or played against. It’s always fun to see those guys.
Q. Heading into the postseason, do you like the roll the team is on?
A. I do. I think we’re playing the right way. It’s a different feeling from last year when we were just happy to get in. Anything can happen in the postseason. I think it was more wide open last year. The Falcons were the No. 1 seed but I don’t think they had won a playoff game, yet. We felt good about that. Now we’re the No. 1 seed and teams have to go through us at home; it’s a tough place to play in the playoffs. You combine the crowd noise with the conditions, and then the field footing, and it’s a tough place to play.