Packers' Rodgers: 'I'm going to do it my way'
"I'm not Brett Favre," he said Saturday. "And if they're wanting me to be the next Brett Favre, I'm not going to be him. I'm Aaron Rodgers. That's who I am."
After spending three years running the scout team and watching game film during the week -- only to spend Sundays wearing a headset and toting a clipboard -- Rodgers' turn finally arrived when Favre retired.
"I'm going to be the best quarterback I can be," said Rodgers, who was in Green Bay for the Packers' annual fan fest. "He did it his way, I'm going to do it my way. And hopefully, I can be successful."
The Packers' first-round pick in 2005 has thrown a grand total of 59 passes in seven career games. But he played well when called on in a game at Dallas in November, and will be surrounded by young talent next season.
"I'm in a good situation," said Rodgers, who turned 24 in December. "I've got a great team around me. A lot of people are focusing on what I'm going to do -- it's what the team's going to do, really. I'm an important part of that. I know my role and I need to play it well. And I'm not going to really have a grace period, either."
No, but he does have Favre's blessing.
"I think he'll do a great job," Favre said during his retirement news conference Thursday. "I think he has the talent. I've heard it for the last three years that, 'Hopefully he's learned from Brett.' What that means, I don't know. He's his own player, he has his own style and that's what he needs to stick to."
Rodgers had an occasionally rocky relationship with Favre. Especially as a rookie, when Favre didn't seem thrilled by the thought of working with a player who would eventually replace him and didn't offer much tutoring. The two gradually grew closer.
Rodgers admires Favre's fortitude and ability to work hard in practice, even when tired.
"The way he's dealt with the stuff that's happened to him and his family off the field, and also the adversity on the field -- an interception or a bad throw or a bad drive, just being able to stay levelheaded and even-keeled, I think, is one of his best assets," Rodgers said.
Like nearly everyone in Green Bay, Rodgers assumed Favre was coming back. So he admits it probably won't really hit him until training camp that he is really the starter.
Rodgers knows the comparisons to Favre are inevitable. But he grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and is hoping to follow the path of Steve Young. Young wasn't the next Joe Montana, but he helped the 49ers continue their run of success by bringing a different approach to his position.
"I know a lot of friends and family who were Joe Montana fans, where it didn't matter how good Steve Young did," he said. "They weren't going to cheer for him because he wasn't Joe Montana."
Rodgers has been injured twice in three seasons. In a place where the last guy started 275 straight games that translates to "injury prone."
"I think both those injuries were things that could have happened to anybody," Rodgers said. "So I'm just going to get myself in great shape and hopefully, with a little luck, I can stay out there."
Rodgers already has earned the trust of teammates. He started building those bonds well before the biggest moment of his career, when Favre was hurt at Dallas in November and Rodgers nearly led the Packers to a comeback victory.
"It was just one game," Rodgers said. "I want to do it over a season."
Packers receiver Donald Driver said the Dallas game provided an important boost for Rodgers, who came into the huddle somewhat unsure of himself but left as a confident leader.
"For him to get in the huddle and say, 'Hey guys, just believe in me,' he was kind of shaky, because he didn't think guys believed in him," Driver said. "But we did believe in him. We were like, 'We want you to believe in us, but you have to believe in yourself first.' And I think now he knows that he believes in himself because he went out there and performed well."
He did it once. Now he has to do it every week.
"There'll be a little bit of nerves," Rodgers said, "But I've been waiting my whole life to do this."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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BRETT FAVRE SAGA: OVER
After pushing and pushing to keep playing either in Green Bay or elsewhere, Brett Favre's storied career will continue in 2008. The unretired quarterback has been traded by the Packers to the Jets.
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