Rodgers: Wait Was Worth It


Generally, players who get taken with the 24th overall pick of the NFL Draft don't complain about the wait. But then most of those guys don't go to draft headquarters in New York with 17 of their family members thinking that they might be the first overall selection.

That was the situation Saturday for California quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who, up until NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue called the name of Utah's Alex Smith, thought his wait to be drafted might be the shortest of all.

Instead his stay in the green room was a test of endurance, watching hours go by instead of minutes, until a situation he initially thought impossible started coming into view.

"It was pretty difficult," Rodgers said of the wait. "We had an idea that if things didn't go our way between (picks) 14, 15, 16 that the Packers were looking more and more (like an option) ... I think the need for a quarterback after the first pick just wasn't there."

Of course, the Packers don't have a need at quarterback either. At least, not immediately. Three-time NFL MVP Brett Favre is due back for his 15th season in Green Bay and has set no definitive timeline for when he might retire.

But as general manager Ted Thompson noted, Favre will hang 'em up someday. And while the possibility of succeeding Favre carries with it some pressure, Rodgers said it wouldn't be "as much pressure as being thrown in the fire right away without a supporting cast."

And so in that respect, Rodgers figures his wait was worth it. Instead of going to a rebuilding franchise like San Francisco that's coming off a two-win season, Rodgers slipped down the draft board and landed in the cozy lap of a team that hasn't had a losing season since 1991.

"I totally recognize the fact that Brett is the guy back there and he's a legend, and my goal for this next year is to tap into his resources as a player," Rodgers said. "As a competitor, I'd obviously love to play right away. But if you get in a situation where you don't have a great supporting cast or maybe an organization not dedicated to winning, you can have a rough career."

Besides, Rodgers said that by falling down the draft board he'll enter the league with a chip on his shoulder, eager to prove himself. From any other player, such comments might be nothing more than cheap talk. But coming from Rodgers there's extra meaning.

Coming out of Pleasant Valley High School in Chico, Ca., Rodgers didn't get a single NCAA Division I scholarship offer. Instead, he took his game to Butte Junior College, where he completed nearly 62 percent of his passes for 2,408 yards and 28 touchdowns with only four interceptions.

From there, Rodgers went straight to the University of California, where he further blossomed under quarterbacks guru Jeff Tedford, leading the Bears to a 17-5 record over two seasons, and once completing 23 straight passes against the eventual national champion USC Trojans.

"I definitely have a lot to prove," Rodgers said. "I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, even this draft. I made the most of a good situation and I'm very excited about being a Packer."

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