GREEN BAY – Last week as he closed in on Brett Favre's franchise record for touchdown passes, Aaron Rodgers reminisced about sitting in his locker on Sundays, looking through the game program, and seeing the big numbers he was chasing.
On Tuesday, having tied Favre's 442 TD tosses and poised to break the mark Saturday at Lambeau Field against the Browns, Rodgers' musings about Favre got a little more personal.
The two, who keep in touch periodically, exchanged text messages after Rodgers' three-TD performance in Baltimore, and Favre repeated a piece of advice Rodgers is continuing to keep top of mind.
"The one thing I will say that he mentioned, which is one thing I've been really taking to heart the last couple of years, is he just said, 'Enjoy it because it goes by so fast and the next thing you know it's over,'" Rodgers said.
It's that type of mindset that prompted Rodgers to tell the offensive huddle before kneeling out the clock Sunday in Baltimore that a third straight NFC North title is worth savoring.
Sure, there are larger goals ahead, but don't dismiss a significant accomplishment in the present by focusing too much on the future.
Rodgers plans to throw plenty more touchdown passes after No. 443, but he'll take a moment to appreciate a milestone that's been 17 years in the making. He paraphrased a noteworthy line from one of his favorite TV shows, "The Office," to further illustrate the point: "I wish they'd tell you, you were in the good ol' days, before you left them."
Those "good ol' days" for Rodgers started, of course, as Favre's backup, though he probably didn't think of them in those terms then.
Over the years, his perspective has come to incorporate all angles, because while he admits the competitor in him would say he'd be headed for the Hall of Fame whether he apprenticed behind Favre for three seasons or not, the grounded realist knows it was a positive factor in his career equation.
"The human element and the observer and the gratitude is understanding that things happen the way they happened to allow me to get in this position," Rodgers said. "A lot of that is being able to sit behind Brett and watch one of the greatest players, competitors, quarterbacks of all time do it for three years, and then figure out how to do it on my own."
Rodgers went on to say sharing a quarterback room as a rookie with someone better than him was good for both the ego and his personal drive.
"He throws it better. His mastery of the system is better. Instincts are better. Pocket presence's better," Rodgers recalled. "And that was great for me because I really got to see exactly what I needed to work on in order to become great, because my dreams and my aspirations and my drive was to be great."
Rodgers also expressed gratitude for all the players he's thrown touchdown passes to, other teammates he's built relationships with, and coaches who've refined his skills and taught him new ones.
He even laughed about the first of his 442 touchdown passes, which came in relief of an injured Favre in a big Thursday night game at Dallas in 2007 – not about the touchdown itself but about that player 14 years ago, sharing the same long hair he sports now, first entering the game and "trying to wipe the hair out of my face to be able to remember what the (play) call was."
It was a simple route by Greg Jennings, who made the catch, made a guy miss and got into the Texas Stadium end zone.
"And away we went," Rodgers said. "That was a good feeling."
The record-breaker, assuming it comes on Saturday or whenever, will be too, and Rodgers will make sure to enjoy it.