Aaron Rodgers likes scotch. In fact, sometimes he’ll pour a glass while watching film of a previous game.
“It’s an acquired taste,” Rodgers said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I understand it’s not the best-tasting stuff for most people and you have to kind of work through it. It took me months to even begin to enjoy the taste, I would say.”
When asked who introduced him to scotch, Rodgers’ response was pretty much perfect.
“I would say Ron Burgundy,” he said.
Hey, whatever works, right?
In truth, Rodgers and the Packers (6-6) have had a bit of a down year – at least relative to their usual lofty standards. Green Bay started the season 4-6 but has won back-to-back games to climb back to .500. Still, this Sunday’s game against Seattle is essentially must-win, and Rodgers has been hobbled by a hamstring injury.
“It’s doing better,” he said. “Doing a lot better. It’s not going to be 100 percent, but it’s feeling better. Luckily I don’t have to do a ton of running around. I know my limitations. But it’s a feel thing. The weather plays a factor. The field, the footing plays a factor as well in how you respond. It’s about pushing off and slowing down with the hamstring. Last week I was definitely limited in practice on the field. Sunday I wasn’t able to move around as well as I usually do. I felt a little bit better in comparison this Thursday to last Thursday, but not substantially better.”
Sunday will be Rodgers’ second time facing the Seahawks since Green Bay’s devastating NFC Championship loss in January 2015. The Packers led 19-7 with just over two minutes to play in regulation but lost 28-22 in overtime.
The Packers beat Seattle in Week 2 of the ensuing 2015 season, but Rodgers hasn’t forgotten about what happened at CenturyLink almost two years ago.
“Well, I just think those are always things that you think about in the offseason and you’ll probably think about at the end of your career,” he said. “We’ve had a couple of those games with them, that, ‘disappointed finishes’ is kind of an understatement. But when we look at this team, we just look at the film from this year and focus on those things and those memories are always going to be with you, as are the incredibly exhilarating and exciting ones. But yeah, there’s been some pretty epic games over the years against these guys.”
Rodgers was also asked about the criticism he has received this year. He’s thrown 29 touchdown passes – second-most in football – to just seven interceptions, but many fans feel he isn’t the player he once was. It has to be tough to absorb that criticism, right?
As it turns out, not really.
“I don’t think you have to absorb it,” Rodgers said. “I don’t think the things that people say you have to have a reaction to every single time or let into your frame of mind. I think as athletes we’re able to really focus on the here and now. We’re also human, so we all deal with criticism and distraction in our own way. But I think you learn to grow pretty thick skin over the years when you deal with this on a constant basis. Obviously stats and win-loss record are things that people like to talk about a lot, but as a leader of this team, I care about the preparation and the efficiency. I can say the preparation has not wavered as all. The efficiency has been inconsistent at times for the offense and myself, but I feel like we’ve gotten into a better rhythm these last few weeks and started to do some of the things we’ve known to do over the years. But going back to my initial response, I don’t think you have to absorb those things. You’re going to hear about them one way or another at some point probably, but I don’t think you have to absorb those or even have a reaction to those.”
Barring injury, Rodgers, 33, still has several productive seasons left in him. But sometimes, even he is amazed at his life and what he has accomplished. He is the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, and he won a Super Bowl for the green and gold.
Rodgers’ place in history isn’t lost on him.
“I do (recognize it),” he said. “I really do. That’s the truth. I really do. When you play this game, I’ve played it with just an appreciation for the history of the league. I’ve been a football historian my entire life. I grew up watching the history of the Super Bowl on VHS and watching the game on Sundays after church. And then the Super Bowl and the playoffs every year, that was my everything. And then going out in the backyard and being my favorite 49ers – because I was a Niner fan growing up – I’ve always had a real love for the game and love for the history and kind of know how special this is. So all the time, I kind of look around on a TV timeout and I feel pretty thankful that I’m doing what I’m doing.”