While Aaron Rodgers has risen up the quarterback ranks to become one of the best in the NFL, his rise to stardom wasn’t instantaneous.
First, Rodgers played a year in community college before transferring to the University of California at Berkeley to finish college.
Rodgers was then expected to be drafted No. 1 in 2005 by the San Francisco 49ers, his hometown team, but they chose Alex Smith instead. Rodgers slid all the way to No. 24 and went to the Packers, spending the first few years of his career backing up Brett Favre.
In a terrific profile on Rodgers from SI’s Greg Bishop prior to the 2015 season, Bishop described the chip-on-his-shoulder competitiveness that Rodgers carries. According to teammates, he never forgets a slight.
That extends to Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who was the offensive coordinator for the 49ers in 2005 when they selected Smith over Rodgers. McCarthy told Bishop that Rodgers won’t let him forget it:
He reminds McCarthy in some way every season that the coach, then with the 49ers, drafted Alex Smith (now with the Chiefs) ahead of him in 2005. “We play Kansas City in Week 3,” says McCarthy. “We won’t make it through the first half of that week without him saying something. I’m certain.”
While Alex Smith is no slouch, he’s not Rodgers — and Rodgers knows it.
Bishop also notes that Rodgers has kept rejection letters he got from colleges. Nowadays, if teammates ever say anything, they say Rodgers will never forget it.
Former Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings told Bishop, “Sometimes it’s like: ‘Aaron, come on, man.’ He holds on to things longer than you would hope. He definitely has the mind-set of being slighted.”
But while Rodgers may seem like a vindictive person, clearly it works for him. Teammates love him, and it helps, of course, when you can play the way he can.
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