Just read the ESPN: The Magazine (seriously, could the title of that magazine be more self-serving?) profile on Aaron Rodgers for the fourth or fifth time. And every time I read it, I come away liking the guy more.
Here’s why: I don’t want a guy leading my team that won’t associate with players, who looks at his backups like they’re sharpening pitchforks (read the story; you’ll know who I’m talking about). I want a guy leading my team that refers back to his college classes about how to identify which players need to be motivated and which ones need to be kicked in the rear. I want a guy leading my team that goes out of his way to invite players and their wives over to his place, serves them dinner, engages in something called “Dude Time” (trying not to conjure up too many images there), and says, ‘Hey, I’m one of you guys. We’re going to win together.’
The first few times I saw Rodgers, I had the same impression of him that many of you probably did: Cocky kid, bad body language when his receiver doesn’t make a play, seems kind of brittle, has happy feet, needs to shave. Now, all of those things are gone, except maybe the happy feet. Blessedly, the mustache is gone.
But Rodgers was learning how to lead at the time. He seems to have it figured out now. He commands respect because he knows how to be the player everyone looks up to without being the player who looks down on everyone. He’s one of the Packers, yet he’s the guy who makes everything go. He gets it. In his final seasons, his predecessor didn’t.
Every time I put that story down, I walk away saying, “I freaking love Aaron Rodgers.” Maybe not more than Favre in his heyday – yet – but I’m gaining a great deal of respect for what he’s about. That’s the kind of leader I want to root for.