GREEN BAY — Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Tuesday he and his quarterbacking predecessor, Brett Favre, both spoke at a small, private service last week in Bart Starr’s native Alabama honoring the Packers legend who died at age 85 last week. Starr had mentored both quarterbacks and grew close to both of them.
“I met him back in 2006 at Fan Fest, actually, and I remember the feeling of excitement meeting him,” Rodgers said. “I used to watch him on an old VHS (tape) — highlights of him from the first couple Super Bowls and knowing the stories.
“He lived a fantastic life. He impacted so many people. He did so much for people that you probably will never know about. I think he taught a lot of us great lessons about what it means to be a Packer.”
While ex-Packers receiver Jordy Nelson told Topeka, Kansas, TV station WIBW over the weekend he plans to come back to Green Bay in August to sign a one-day ceremonial contract to retire as a Packer, Rodgers sure sounded like he still wanted his favorite receiver and BFF to play one more year.
Earlier this offseason, after being cut by Oakland, Nelson had said that he’d play another year if Rodgers called him and asked him to — not that general manager Brian Gutekunst would let his quarterback do that.
“I did see that. I got excited when I heard ‘sign,’ but then I saw (it was) ‘sign for one day,’” Rodgers said. “If it took a call to bring him back, I called him on his birthday a couple days ago. I talk to him all the time. I loved playing with him.
“There’s a few guys over the years who really you’ve gotten close to and loved playing with, and Jordy’s one of those guys. Consummate professional, one of the greatest wide receivers in Packer history — and that’s a long and illustrious history. I don’t think retirement is a word that’s in his vocabulary, though. He has thousands of acres back in Kansas to tend to and three kids.
Asked if he thought Nelson could come back if called upon, Rodgers replied: “Jordy’s got that farmer strength and shape. You’d ask him sometimes what he did during the break in the summer and he said, ‘Farm. Run and farm.’ That’s all it took for him to get in shape. I think if he ran around a little bit instead of sitting in that cushy GPS-driven (tractor) he’s got there when he’s out in the fields, he could probably be ready.”
If the social media phenomenon of other NFL players chugging beers — and poking fun at him for his lackluster effort during a Milwaukee Bucks playoff game he attended with beer-slamming expert/left tackle David Bakhtiari — bothers Rodgers, he didn’t let on Tuesday. Rodgers has seen two of his fellow NFC North quarterbacks — Detroit’s Matthew Stafford and Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky — best him in the fast-drinking department.
“For some of them,” Rodgers said with a smirk, “there’s finally a talent they can say they’re better than me at.”
Then, seemingly facetiously, he added, “I think we need to be smart about the example we’re setting for kids. There’s a lot of kids watching. If we’re going to start highlighting and glorifying binge drinking, we need to be very careful about that slippery slope.”