Monday, January 24, 2011
MR. RODGERS NEIGHBORHOOD
You don't have to be a football fan to admire the metoric rise of a California native son, Aaron Rodgers as he will be leading his Packers into Super Bowl XLV in Dallas. Rodgers, hails from Chico--a hybrid college/farm community a good 100 miles north of Sacramento. Yet, the refrain, "you're not in Chico, anymore" has to be ringing in his ears as he finds himself on the biggest stage of all. To get there, Rodgers' has had to employ the time honored american saw of 'rugged individualism' (with an obvious nod to Kurt Warner)--plus, sprinkled in with plenty of his own brand of talent and providence along the way. After having starred at Chico's Paradise Valley High School, Aaron found no takers for his particular gifts in the NCAA. Following the adage "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade", Rodgers next turn was at Butte College, a junior college where he toiled until Cal coach Jeff Tedford made a visit. Tedford saw something special in the young man as he invited Rodgers' to Berkeley. He signed on with the Golden Bears and had a terrific run in the Pac 10 while setting several school records including a remarkable 23 straight completions in a game vs. USC. After his stint at Cal and with the NFL draft fast approaching, the 'buzz' on Rodgers was papable as he was considered in the top tier of potential QB candidates. It was Green Bay who came calling as they were making preparations for the soon to be post-Brett Favre era. Yes, it would be a herculean effort in replacing the 'marble model' himself; the peripatetic Favre. Imagine filling the shoes of the all time leading NFL passer who's legend was already firmly etched in the hearts and minds of the Packer faithful? Moreover, the patient Rodgers' had to deal with the on again/off again Favre who couldn't decide whether to stay or go. Finally, getting his chance to start in 2008, Aaron made the most of it by being the first QB ever to throw for over 4,000 yards in each of his first two seasons in the league. Also, Packer fans' collective memory of Favre has faded further for, in his short time in the league, Aaron has already set the all-time NFL pass rating mark. Still, those accomplishments pale in comparison to the 'heat' that Rodgers will feel in the next couple of weeks on his sojourn to the Big 'D'. Those currently jumping on the Rodgers' bandwagon can only imagine how he had to persevere through the trepidation of not knowing where his future would lie while serving his time in the 'solitary confinment' of jc ball. His is truly the quixotic story that we, as Americans, know all too well--no better embodied than in this 27-year old from the golden state who will be trying to 'strike gold' on his own at cowboys stadium. Sure, its a long way from the halcyon days of tiny chico to the bright lights of the NFL. Rodgers has made that chaotic journey but, not without his share of a few potholes and stumbling blocks along the way. Now, it will be Aarons' turn to try and create, on his road to Super Bowl XLV, his own personal 'Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood'. And, for him, a smooth landing to his place in football legend and lore.