PR: So, how do you define what it means to play in Green Bay and be a Green Bay Packer?
RC: Definitely after that subzero playoff game last year, I would say it means The Frozen Tundra, but it’s a special place. You look at the field we play on, how much history is in that one stadium. So many guys have walked through that locker room and through that tunnel. Reggie White, Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Charles Woodson, Donald Driver — there’s just so many guys that I could name. There’s a passion that we have to be a part of such a great organization.
PR: Have you had a chance to experience that tie to the past and the history of the organization?
RC: Whenever we’re in the same places, I’ve had a chance to talk to Bart Starr and hear some of his old stories. Jim Taylor. Paul Hornung I’ve met a couple of times. Just being able to be around so many great players that have come before you is a special feeling, and it really makes you appreciate the game that much more when you hear stories from them.
PR: You’re one of the veteran guys now entering your fourth season, but it wasn’t that long ago you were the rookie with the locker next to Donald Driver. Tell me about his influence on you?
RC: It was big. I think the biggest part for me was just being able to watch from a distance. Being there and seeing (Driver) and Greg Jennings and James Jones, Jordy Nelson at practice, seeing how they practice, learning techniques from them, in the film room being able to see what they’re looking for. Donald, he played 14-plus years and being able to see how he took care of his body and the things that he did, his daily routines. Being able to learn those things and watch those things happen I think is definitely something that’s going to help with the longevity of my career.
RC: I’m going to be whatever I can and be a role model and help them out in any way that I can. Any questions they have I’m going to answer — whatever it is that they come to me with. I think it’s all about paying it forward. Especially from the guys that gave it to me and what they passed to me, passing it along to these guys and just helping them in different areas whether it be football or life.
PR: The mentoring thing is nothing new. You did a lot of work with young kids — sometimes troubled kids — when you were a Leadership Development major at UK, right?
RC: Yeah, it’s great. I think one thing I’ve realized is that I’ve been blessed with a lot of opportunities and a lot of experiences and just taking both of those and taking what I know and what I’ve learned and being able to give it to somebody else. I think that’s one of the biggest gifts in life.
I think the biggest thing is that I’ve been there. I’ve been in their shoes. I’ve been through some of the things they’re going through and I can relate. I think the biggest thing is being able to relate to different situations and being able to talk and help kids through those situations because you’ve been there before.
PR: Everyone talks about the Year 1 to Year 2 jump in the NFL. Explain that acceleration and improvement we see in players. What’s that about?
RC: It’s the offseason. Just continuing to do the things that got me to that point and continuing to have the drive and motivation going into the offseason. Usually in the NFL, Year 1 to Year 2 is the biggest leap and I think that comes down to the offseason because we’ve had structured stuff all of our life, from high school to college, and that’s your first actual time that you get off and you kind of have to be a pro and go about it on your own, and I don’t think everybody understands how important that offseason is and really takes a hold of their offseason to make the most of the time that they’re given.
PR: Your chemistry with Aaron Rodgers is something special. When does that develop? Is it practice or games when you have those crucial line of scrimmage adjustments?
RC: I think it’s everything … it’s on the field, obviously practice is the biggest time, in the meeting rooms, in the film room, in the cafeteria, in the weight room … that trust is built all around. Whenever you got a guy that trusts you and you trust him, great things are going to happen and hopefully we can continue to make play.
PR: Just two years after setting the SEC yardage record, you pile up a franchise-record 2,342 yards for the Packers. What does that mean to you?
RC: That gave me chills just hearing that. It’s crazy to think about. You think about such a historic franchise and for me to do something like that in my second year is unreal to think of. And I’m really thankful for that and really thankful for those accomplishments but, again, like I told you, I want to be the best at what I do so I can’t really worry about my accomplishments right now because I still have a lot that I want to achieve. So, I have to keep that focus and drive and that motivation to move forward on the other things I want to achieve. Maybe after my career I look back and realize how huge that actually is.
PR: Could you have ever imagined doing that in the NFL — especially so soon?
RC: You don’t think about that. You know, as a kid I always wanted to play in the NFL, I always wanted to be an NFL player and be a star in the NFL, but I didn’t think about the things that come along with it and the things you have to do to get there. So, being able to accomplish some of those things that I have at such a young age is really a blessing.
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W. Keith Roerdink has covered the Packers since 1992. E-mail him at email@example.com.