When Aaron Rodgers speaks, Green Bay Packers fans listen.
In two recent interviews, one with Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette and the other with Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Rodgers made some comments that should have fans giddy with excitement about the upcoming Packers season and also about the quarterback himself.
The first thing that really stood out in both interviews is that Rodgers seems to be very happy and content with where he is in life. For a player who has a made a name for himself playing with a chip on his shoulder, this is a big change.
In the interview with Vandermause, Rodgers said, “I think I feel good about where I’m at in my career and then also in my life that I’m going to live my life and deal with whatever comes and be comfortable. I think that’s the biggest thing. … Now I’m settling into my place in this league and my place off the field.”
Regarding the infamous chip on Rodgers’ shoulder, he said via the conversation with Dunne that he now knows he’s proven a lot of his “initial critics” wrong and now it’s about “proving to myself and my teammates that I can continue to be the best every day.”
For a player who always had the urge to prove people wrong, this is huge. Rodgers now knows he not just belongs among the NFL elite but also that he is universally placed there by his peers. He expects to remain there for the rest of his career.
The second thing that raises some eyebrows in both interviews is how excited Rodgers is about the 2014 team.
In the interview with Dunne, when asked how much separates the Packers from the San Francisco 49ers, Rodgers give a short yet pointed reply: “Not much.”
Short answers from Rodgers usually implies anger. Packers fans know what happens when Rodgers is angry. It’s clear the quarterback has had it up to here with getting beat by the 49ers. You’d have to think Rodgers would love to get yet another shot at his childhood team in the playoffs come January.
Regarding the 2014 team, Rodgers is excited about the addition of Julius Peppers to the defense and the return of many injured players from last season to health including Casey Hayward and Bryan Bulaga.
Rodgers told reporters earlier in the week the team has a “different feel” and a “hunger” to it. That’s something some have pointed out the Packers haven’t had since they won Super Bowl XLV following the 2010 season.
If one thing is clear from both interviews, it’s that Rodgers is healthy, happy and hungry. Since he just turned 30, Rodgers is now in the prime of his career. He realizes that and seems ready to capitalize on it.
Rodgers is now entering “Phase Two” of his potential Hall of Fame career. With a reloaded receiveing unit and new pieces on defense, the Packers have another open window before them. Rodgers will leap through that window.
The fun has only just begun for Aaron Rodgers.——————
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke