|How do you escape the Brett Favre furor? Aaron Rodgers golfs in Tahoe. (American Century Championship)|
Brett Favre's desire to add a big never mind to his teary-eyed retirement announcement is shaking the entire state of Wisconsin, Cheeseheads everywhere and most of the NFL.
With the Green Bay Packers essentially declaring thanks, but no thanks to their greatest quarterback ever - saying they've moved on - and Favre asking for his outright release, which Packers General Manager Ted Thompson insists will not happen, it's all turning into a made-for-SportsCenter-specials, 21st-century sports showdown.
So how's Aaron Rodgers, the 24-year-old never-been-an-NFL-starter quarterback who is still set to replace Favre (at least at this moment), reacting?
Rodgers is golfing. He played in the American Century Celebrity Championship at Lake Tahoe, along with other NFL quarterbacks like Tony Romo and Carson Palmer. (Rodgers finished 43rd, right around where he predicted). He enjoyed a little of Lake Tahoe's casino nightlife - hitting the blackjack tables with fellow former Cal quarterback Kyle Boller. He deflected so many Favre questions that he could have been a goalie in another life - or at least a press secretary for George W. Bush.
Whether the daunting task of replacing No. 4 will overwhelm Rodgers is a question that will take time to answer.
His approach so far has already won over some former doubters, including national sports radio host Jim Rome. Rodgers might also convert some golfers into fans with a self-taught game (look Mom, no lessons!) that has him down to a 6-7 handicap. He's been golfing for 10 years, longer than Brett Favre has overshadowed his life.
In fact, when Favre made that national-TV-showcase retirement announcement months ago, Rodgers was out golfing in L.A. He wouldn't realize what Favre's move would do for his Q-rating, and the number of people who suddenly recognized his distinctive long floppy hair (since cut), until later.
But that's Aaron Rodgers.
Just because Tiger Woods is Tiger Woods doesn't mean that Rodgers will not take some digs at the World's No. 1 for going to the arch-rival of Rodgers' Cal - Stanford.
Now if Rodgers can just get those Packer fans, who recently held a bring back Favre rally outside of Lambeau Field, to give him some love. Green Bay's training camp starts July 28, the first preseason game is Aug. 11 against Cincinnati, and the Aaron Rodgers era is supposed to start for real with a Monday nighter vs. Minnesota on Sept. 8.
Any time for golf is almost gone.
Here are excerpts of Rodgers' interview on replacing a legend who doesn't want to leave and his second game of choice.
Q: Does the Brett Favre talk bother you? How have you been dealing with the recent developments?
Aaron Rodgers: You know, I'm up in the mountains hanging out with my family. So I've been pretty immune to any media reports out there.
So that's basically what I'm doing. I'm up here in Tahoe playing in the American Century Championship, and that's kind of my focus.
Q: Has Favre's desire to come back and play changed anything for you?
Aaron Rodgers: As usual, I'm coming back more than a week early for training camp. I just gotta get my body accustomed to the Midwest time again, get a couple of workouts in before we start. So nothing's changed. We're right on schedule and looking forward to a good training camp.
Q: Is golf harder than football for you?
Aaron Rodgers: When I'm playing football, I feel like I can throw the ball just about where I want to every time. When I'm playing golf I can't hit the ball where I want to every time. That's the biggest struggle for me.
Q: What are the strengths and weakness of your golf game?
Aaron Rodgers: I think I'm a pretty good ... I have a pretty good short game. I need to get off the tee well. If you put the ball in the fairway you can score well. But if not, you're going to be where I usually finish (in the celebrity classic), which is somewhere in the 40s, somewhere in the middle.
Q: What's your favorite thing about golf?
Aaron Rodgers: Favorite thing about golf? It is challenging. It's not something that you ever really [get] totally figured out. At least I don't. You can have a terrible day and hit a great shot on 18 and it makes you want to play again.
So I think the competitive nature of trying to hit a small round white ball into a small hole, it's definitely a fun challenge.
Q: What's the worst thing about golf?
Aaron Rodgers: When you're shanking the ball way right all day and you don't know how to fix it.
Q: Which current PGA Tour player would make the best NFL quarterback?
Aaron Rodgers: Would make the best quarterback? Probably Tiger Woods. He's the best athlete on the tour. But he is from Stanford, so I don't know (laughs).
Q: How often do you play golf?
Aaron Rodgers: I'm a member of the [Packers] course in Green Bay. So I play with my neighbor a lot, as much as I can. And with some of the guys on the team when I can and during the off-season a couple of weeks hopefully.
July 16, 2008
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