Aaron Rodgers joined the Pat McAfee Show on Westwood One / DAZN this morning and their conversation included references to Dodgeball, The Big Lebowski, and 90s grunge Pandora. One thing about it that stuck out to me as a longtime Packers fan was how Rodgers’ memories of his time backing up Brett Favre appear to have shifted– not just from a rekindled friendship, but from an understanding of what Favre was going through in his professional life cycle.
McAfee asked Rodgers about their relationship given that he observed them as friends at the charity golf tournament Rodgers and Chris Paul hosted in the Bahamas in June. Rodgers discussed the evolution of their relationship from being “teammates and be[ing] close”, to rivals when Favre joined the Vikings, to becoming close friends over the last couple years.
The thing about this is that Rodgers and Favre were famously not close when they were teammates. Rodgers was drafted in 2005 when Favre was 35 years old, and sat behind him for three seasons. Favre talked publicly about having zero interest in mentoring Rodgers: “My contract doesn’t say I have to get Aaron Rodgers ready to play,” Favre said. “Now hopefully he watches me and gets something from that.”
Last year, Favre acknowledged the frostiness, telling Jason Wilde and Mark Tauscher on ESPN Radio in Milwaukee that “When I was 35 and Aaron was up and coming — first, second year — the only thing we had in common was we both played quarterback for the same team … That was it.”
When Favre un-retired in 2008, he very well could have wrested Rodgers’ starting job — that he’d waited for all those years — away, if Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy had not chosen to trade Favre to the Jets instead.
Now that Rodgers is in a similar point of his cycle as quarterback as Favre was when when his understudy was drafted, he has better empathy for what Favre was going through. He acknowledged this to McAfee:
“Now kind of re-establishing a friendship [with him] as retired legend, and myself kind of now the older quarterback has been really fun to kind of see him through different eyes as I kind of understand him a little bit more. Because I’m 35 now, I was drafted, he was 36. So, when you’re 21 and you’re playing with one of your favorite quarterbacks as a kid, a guy you looked up to, I don’t think until you get in his position that you really understand some of the thoughts and ideas that were going through his head as he’s trying to hold on and keep playing and what does that mean for me. So it’s been fun to just be friends again and give him the love and appreciation that he deserves.”
While perhaps there were some times behind closed doors that they did share positive moments as teammates, it’s probably revisionist history on Rodgers’ part to say they were close at that point. Nonetheless, through walking somewhat in Favre’s shoes — it bears mentioning that the Packers have not had anything resembling a viable succession plan for Rodgers to this point — he has better empathy for him.