Packers: Aaron Rodgers says he intends to spend his whole career in Green Bay
GREEN BAY — Aaron Rodgers wants to be like Tom Brady is with the New England Patriots. And Derek Jeter was with the New York Yankees. And Kobe Bryant was with the Los Angeles Lakers. And Tim Duncan was with the San Antonio Spurs.
As Brady, the Patriots’ five-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, celebrated his 40th birthday on Thursday, Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers quarterback and one of Brady’s pals, was asked where he thinks he’ll be when he turns 40 on Dec. 2, 2023.
“Hopefully right here,” Rodgers replied as he stood in front of his locker inside the Packers’ dressing room at Lambeau Field.
For Rodgers, his answer wasn’t so much about when and how long as it was about where. In recent years, he’s made no bones about his desire to extend his football career past age 40. That’s not breaking news.
But having watched some of the most iconic players in all of sports walk away from their respective games in recent years — and having done so with their legacies cemented as members of only one organization — Rodgers has felt an increasingly strong pull to make sure that he spends his entire NFL career with the Packers.
Earlier in the offseason, he admitted that, after seeing several of his closest friends leave the team over the past few years (Charles Woodson, A.J. Hawk, John Kuhn), he has gotten “even more motivated to be an irreplaceable part of our team.” On Thursday, he flipped the question about Brady’s longevity into a discussion about location instead.
“I do think it’s realistic (to be playing at age 40). I hope it’s in this locker room, though,” Rodgers said. “That would mean it’s been at a high level.”
Rodgers had a front-row seat during the summer of 2008 when his predecessor, Brett Favre, was traded to the New York Jets after a messy divorce following 16 seasons as the face of the franchise. And Rodgers was a heartbroken 9-year-old San Francisco 49ers fan growing up in Northern California when he watched his favorite NFL team trade Joe Montana to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Asked why he’s so intent on spending his entire career with the Packers — and whether it’s related to watching Favre’s departure up close — Rodgers shook his head.
“I don’t think it’s just 2008. It’s being a sports fan and watching some of my favorite all-time players either not finish in the place they started — or the place where you fell in love watching them play — or, (if) they did,” Rodgers said. “Seeing how different the memory is of those players as a fan, and seeing some of my favorite players growing finishing up now or have finished up in the last two or three years — the Derek Jeters, the Kobe Bryants, the Tim Duncans.
“Doing it their entire career in one place, that makes things pretty special. Again, I’m a realist as well; I have to play well, the team has to want to bring me back. But I’ve said I’d like to finish things here where we started.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy was on Marty Schottenheimer’s coaching staff in Kansas City when Montana arrived in 1993, and while he wasn’t in Green Bay when the Packers took Rodgers with the 24th overall pick in the 2005 draft, he most certainly was a central figure in Favre’s departure from Titletown in 2008.
McCarthy said Thursday that he believes it’s “definitely attainable” for Rodgers to still be playing at age 40, and after his experiences with Montana and Favre, he hopes Rodgers can avoid the same fate.
“I would think as an organization, that’s something you definitely want to entertain, to say the least,” McCarthy said of Rodgers being a Packer for life. “I’m all for it. I hope he’s here 40-plus. He can do it. And hopefully I’ll be right there with him.”
Rainy weather forced Thursday night’s practice, the first of three nighttime practices in camp, inside the Don Hutson Center. McCarthy said he was disappointed because the nighttime practices “are always fun practices for our fans.” The Packers are scheduled to be back outside for tonight’s practice, weather permitting. … Rookie cornerback Kevin King, who sustained a shoulder injury earlier in the week and didn’t practice on Tuesday, returned to practice. … A crew of six NFL officials worked Thursday night’s practice and will be here through Saturday’s Family Night event at Lambeau Field. The officials attended meetings with the players Thursday, and McCarthy said “the dialogue is excellent between the players, coaches and the NFL refs.”