Green Bay QB Rodgers Visits All-Pro Campers at W&M

June 29th, 2011 by Jim McGrath
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Super Bowl MVP – and Colonial Football Camp Counselor – Aaron Rodgers gives a joyful camper a high five. (Photo by Pete Clawson, Tribe Athletics)

The first things you notice are the hands.

Even from far away, it is apparent that Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has good-sized hands. As one observer on the sideline at Zable Stadium called them yesterday, “catcher’s mitts.”  Certainly large enough to wrap around a football like most of us wrap ours around a double-decker sandwich.

However, these hands have worked wonders. Five months ago, they were the key to precision passes to Packer teammates Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson en route to a rousing post-season performance of almost 1,100 yards and nine touchdown passes in four playoff games, the last a 31-25 Super Bowl victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The hands that held not only the Vince Lombardi trophy, but also that of the game’s Most Valuable Player. The hands that might be holding an ESPY award in two weeks as either the Best Male Athlete or Best NFL Player, or both.

Not bad for a guy who was only 5’10” and 160 pounds, with no scholarship offers, out of high school.

What? Not true?

Rodgers bluntly interrupted the first reporter’s (fortunately from another outlet) question at yesterday’s press session, held inside the Laycock Football Complex, adjacent to the Stadium. “That’s incorrect. I was 6’2”, 195.”

But the part about no scholarships may have been true.

“I didn’t have any expectations coming out of high school,” noted Rodgers, the star guest of William and Mary head football coach Jimmye Laycock’s Colonial All-Pro Camp, which ended yesterday. “I was a realist. I wasn’t a great player yet. I knew that I had a lot of hard work between where I was at and where I wanted to be, at a big-time Division I program.”

Only one, Illinois, made an offer, as a walk-on. In a surprising move, Rodgers turned down the offer and decided to play at tiny Butte Community College, near his hometown of Chico, California. In 2002, after leading his team to a 10-1 record while throwing 28 touchdowns, other schools took notice. California, led by Coach Jeff Tedford, was one of them.

Immediately, Rodgers took charge of the Bears offense, throwing for almost 5,500 yards and 43 TD’s in his first two years at Cal. In spite of having one year of eligibility remaining, the junior made himself available for the 2005 draft and fell all the way to the 24th pick before being scooped up by the Packers.

Rodgers was groomed to be the heir apparent to future Hall-of-Famer Brett Favre. However, Favre began his on-again, off-again relationship with the topic of retirement early in Rodgers’ career, not leaving until finally being traded to the New York Jets in 2008, soon after talking himself out of retirement for a third time.
While many players may have faltered from the unwillingness of the mentor to leave, Rodgers only grew stronger.

“It (the experience) forced me to improve as a football player, but also as a person. I knew that the opportunity was going to come and I was going to have to make the most of it. People were going to be watching, and I knew that the way I prepared for that situation would go a long way in the locker room with those guys (teammates).”

It may have also taught the quarterback something about humility. Yesterday, the large hands of the quarterback who has thrown for over 12,000 yards over the past three years while posting the highest passer rating in regular and post-season history, was lobbing soft passes for hundreds of young campers, waiting patiently for their opportunity to catch a ball from perhaps the hottest hand in the NFL.

For the record, neither hand was sporting the Super Bowl ring that Rodgers and his teammates collected earlier this month.

Back to the camp subject, it would seem that Rodgers was simply emulating his own camp experience as a youth. Again, no?

“I remember being a kid in California and not having this opportunity. To be able to spend time at a camp setting, with college players and Clay (Matthews), Ndamukong (Suh) and myself (Matthews and Suh appeared on Sunday and Monday, respectively), it’s just exciting to be here. Hopefully, we’ll inspire the kids in some way because I remember being that little kid with a dream.”

One parent, Hoss (“Everyone calls me Hoss,” he said), brought his wife and children for the festivities. Although living on the Peninsula, both parents are from the Green Bay area, and were happy as Packers fans to be able to see Rodgers and Matthews. “We try to make it here whenever a pro player visits,” he said. The children appeared to be in possession of a Packers helmet which may or may not have been signed over the course of the morning.

Looking at next season, Rodgers is hopeful that in spite of the lost time, his teammates and he will be ready when and if the strike ends.

“I miss the guys. I’m probably in the best shape of my life, but getting ready to play, whenever that happens.” On the team front, he added, “I’m getting ready to begin my seventh year. Capers (Dom, the defensive coordinator) is in the third year with his system. (Head coach) Mike McCarthy is starting his sixth year. We’re not going to lose a lot of players. We don’t have to make a lot of adjustments as a team.”

9 Responses to Green Bay QB Rodgers Visits All-Pro Campers at W&M

  1. Anonymous

    June 29, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    What a first class person (and player/leader) Aaron Rodgers is. Fun reading about his summer endeavors and wish him the best for the 2011 season (if and when?). Those big hands offer a lot.

  2. Anonymous

    June 29, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Aaron Rodgers attended Butte College where I was dean of instruction. He was, and is, a fine young many who was, and is,
    a true leader. We here in Chico are so very proud of him and for all he has accomplished and for the grace and style he demonstrates. He is an outstanding role model for the young boys and girls growing up today.

  3. Anonymous

    June 29, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    :-) Huge grats to all in the Packer Org.What a fantastic year.The NFL does have a few bad apple’s for sure.but 99% of the players are great guys who give back to the community.God Bless them. :-) Geezerman

  4. Anonymous

    June 29, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    :D
    Rogers is without a doubt, a Superstar. On top of that he is a truely nice and humble person. What a welcome change for some ot the usual suspects!

  5. Anonymous

    June 29, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    As a long time Green Bay Packer fan I can’t remember being so excited about our team. They are all so special, from the top to the bottom. We are so blessed!! Just feeling badly about the long dragged out discussions. I know one thing. If it weren’t for the Owners, we’d have no football. I can’t believe any of the players are starving.
    I just don’t understand the players being able to dictate terms to the owners. As an employee I wouldn’t even consider such a thing but would feel blessed to have such a job!!

  6. Anonymous

    June 29, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    As a life long Packer fan having grown up outside Green Bay, I just can not say enough about what a humble, thoughtful and classy person Aaron Rodgers is.Honestly, he has alot of the characteristics of a past legend in Packerland, Bart Starr.

  7. Anonymous

    June 30, 2011 at 2:55 am

    being a packer fan of 43 years in North Carolina I have never been more proud or excited for my team and especially our quarterback. I always liked favre but never really loved him as our QB. I always was looking to Aikman or Young and wishing we could have a talented classy QB like either of these guys. When Rodgers stepped in for Favre when we were getting blown out in Dallas and nearly brought us back for a win i was ready for this guy to start then. He’s a classy guy something i have never saw in Brett. He is a team player something the players will tell you Brett never was. I appreciate the years Brett gave to the packers but regret his last 4 or 5 he spent with us. Going into the playoffs and drawing all of the media attention to him talking about retiring rather than focusing on the playoffs. What a douche!
    Rodgers is a class act and proves it with every Media article. Go pack Go and lets get this lockout crap cleared up! I’ve got to make my plans for the games i’m going to!

  8. Anonymous

    June 30, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    I congratulate Aaron Rodgers, the Packers organization and especially Coach McCarthy and Dom Capers for turning around a team that lacked discipline and focus early in the ’10 season to win 6 straight games for SB45 title. Great accomplishment by coaches to make adjustments to schemes and personel to overcome the injury bug to beat the best in the league!!

  9. Anonymous

    July 1, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    I’ve been a die-hard fan and old enough to have seen Starr, Favre and A-Rod play in Lambeau. Couldn’t be more proud of them than the character they showed last year. They do all of WI and cheeseheads worldwide proud. With youth of team and coach, QB & GM locked in for next 5 years we may be poised for another golden age in this great team’s history.

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