Former California receiver Richard Rodgers gave up on social media years ago, which is really too bad, because on Friday, he got a big message from a big future teammate: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Another Rodgers from Cal in Green Bay, sweet.— Aaron Rodgers (@AaronRodgers12) May 10, 2014
?"I think that's fantastic," Richard laughed. "I don't have any social media so I wasn't able to see that, but to hear that is very, very exciting and I can't wait to get out there and get to work."
Richard wasn't even aware of the tweet until well after the fact. Such is the burden of living a modern life without social media.
?"I used to have it, and I decided that I didn't want it anymore so I stopped doing it," he explained. "I stopped about a year and a half or two years ago now, somewhere around there. I lost count. I don't find myself looking at my phone for hours."
Richard didn't have to wait very long to pick up that phone on Friday. Though he was taken in the third round of the NFL Draft, with the 98th overall pick by the Packers, he went far earlier than many predicted.
?"I really had no idea," he said, regarding when or to what team he would go. "You don't really know that much going into the draft other than crazy things happen. I had no idea and I was just as surprised as anyone else."
Rodgers – unlike his future quarterback – was predicted to go in the bottom half of the draft, and after a mediocre NFL Scouting combine in which he repped 225 pounds 16 times and ran a 4.87 40-yard time.
? Much of the skepticism surrounding Rodgers was due to his fluctuating weight – he's been as heavy as 275 pounds as an in-line tight end under Jeff Tedford's old system, and was closer to 245 this past season as an inside receiver – and his constantly evolving position, as Nolan Nowracki of Pro Football Weekly called him "an unpolished product."
"I don't really believe in this stuff on the internet," Richard Rodgers said. "I'm sure there are lots of people reading things on the internet, but I don't believe in doing that. It was one of the reasons I don't have any social media. Wherever I go, I go, and that was my mindset going in. If I went in the last pick in the draft or the third round like I did I was going to bring my work ethic to whatever team [I was picked by] and just play my heart out."
He showed that dedication by dropping 30 pounds last offseason to fit into the new Bear Raid, though, after the season, as he was evaluating what to do with his future, the fact that he wasn't showcased as a pure tight end played into his decision to declare early for the draft.
"I think it contributed to my decision a little bit, just because our offense here last year didn't really use tight ends at all, or very little I should say," he said. "It didn't really concern me. Obviously you see the tight ends now that are in the NFL. A lot of people are playing a style [where the tight end is] off the line. It didn't worry me at all. That wasn't a big factor.
"There were a lot of questions about blocking. Since my first two years I was playing tight end a lot of teams looked at my sophomore year film if they wanted to see me on the line blocking."
Now that he's set to get on with his professional career, Richard Rodgers II will be competing directly against his father – yet another former Bear – starting this season.
Richard Rodgers, Sr., is a coach for his former Cal teammate Ron Rivera, the head coach of the Carolina Panthers, who – you guessed it – play the Packers on Sunday, Oct. 19.
"He called me tonight," Rodgers II said. "He talked to my mom and my sister first before me because I was on the phone with the Packers. But I talked to him on the phone and he was very excited. He was just leaving the Panthers' facility and a lot of people started texting him and calling him, so he was really excited. He's just happy for me. He really didn't have words to explain it at the moment but I'm sure I'll talk to him later on."
Right now, he's in full green-and-gold mode, after the call came in at the end of the third round, telling him he'd be heading to the Frozen Tundra.
?"I talked to the scout [Matt Klein], GM, tight ends coach and offensive coordinator. I talked to everyone," Rodgers II said. "They welcome you and mostly just see if you're excited and ready to get to work. I'm pretty sure everyone does the same thing. You talk to a bunch of people that were in the room. They said they were excited to have me, and I told them that I was excited to get out there and get to work."
Of course, Aaron Rodgers was pretty excited, too, but not as excited as the Pack's newest Rodgers is to be able to work with one of the top signal-callers in the game.
"I'm just excited to get this opportunity, and I'm ready to get out there. I'm getting out there on Thursday, and I can't wait to get after it," he said.?"I think it's going to be a great experience. I'm going to get to learn from a veteran quarterback who is one of the best in the league if not the best. I'm going to be kind of learning anything I can. At the tight end position you have to know a lot of things protection-wise and scheme wise, and talking to the quarterback is one of the best ways to learn information about an offense especially as a new player coming in."