Rodgers has accomplished job one

Fans, teammates and the entire Packer organization joined in a collective sigh of relief after of last week's minicamp. Even without considering physical categories - accuracy, speed, agility, etc. - quarterback Aaron Rodgers has already passed his most important test so far. The rookie appears to understand that his first task is to build a base of trust for the future.

In other words, Rodgers seems to be a good guy.

Rodgers has already drawn public praise from teammates. Kind words from kicker Ryan Longwell came as no surprise. Not only are the two fellow Golden Bears, they also are locker room neighbors and co-contestants for Mr. Congeniality.

Astute observations about Rodgers' character have come from tougher critics as well. Center Mike Flanagan made it known he hasn't been thrilled by the behavior of previous top picks, but had only good things to say about this one.

According to Flanagan: "(Rodgers) is not rubbing anyone wrong, like some guys do. Compared to some of the No. 1's we've had in the past, he's trying to learn as much as he can, rather thantalking (trash) and that stuff. I think it will benefit him in the long run."

And Flanagan had that to say even before Rodgers took the entire offensive line out to dinner last week.

Picking up that considerable tab wasn't the only charity work Rodgers has done in his brief time in Green Bay so far. He played in Brett Favre's charity softball game in Appleton and chipped in two home runs. While Rodgers doesn't showboat on the Packer practice field, he wasn't so reserved in front of the softball crowd. The show included a cartwheel and a piggy back ride for receiver Antonio Chatman.

Okay, so Rodgers is a swell guy. How important is that right now for a guy who the Packers hope won't see significant playing time for at least a couple of years?

For the stability of the team, beginning immediately, it's essential.

When Favre retires, whatever the timing and circumstances, this team is going to have separation anxiety the likes of which the league has rarely seen. The nervous among us - okay, like me - have been fretting about Favre's eventual retirement since Jan. 27, 1997 - the day after Super Bowl XXXI. As the unknown becomes the inevitable, nerves are bound to become even more frayed.

Some of the what-ifs were answered when Green Bay spent a first-round pick on a QB for the first time since choosing another Cal field general nearly a quarter-century ago. The Rich Campbell experiement didn't turn out so well. Can we believe that this time will be better?

Unfortunately, there are no sure things in the NFL. Admittedly, Rodgers on-field performance so far hasn't done much to assure the Packers of his physical promise. Right now, however, the Packers don't need their rookie to play like an MVP. They still have their own on the field. Instead, the Packers need Rodgers to show everyone from his center and receivers to the folks who sign his checks to the fans lining the practice field fences something else. Believe it or not, his attitude is more important than his arm -- for now.

Everyone wants evidence that Rodgers understands his unique situation. Stepping into Brett Favre's shoes can be a blessing or a curse. Approaching this awesome responsibility the wrong way would be a disaster. His respectful attitude and desire to build a solid foundation from his first day in Green Bay shows that at the tender age of 21, Rodgers knows that.

Editor's note: Laura Veras Marran grew up in Green Bay, Wis., and is a longtime sportswriter. Her column will appear regularly on

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