The football gods are frowning upon Rodgers, who has patiently sat behind Brett Favre, waiting and preparing for his chance to play in the National Football League. On Sunday, he got a chance late in the second quarter when Favre injured his elbow. But on one particular play on the first or second series in the third quarter, he sustained a break of the fifth metatarsal in his left foot and pain began to set in.
"To be honest, the thought was running through my mind ‘Am I feeling sorry for myself, or do I really hurt this bad?" Rodgers told a group of reporters as he stood on crutches this afternoon in the Packers locker room. "I turned to Ingle (Martin) and said, ‘Man, it feels like my foot is broken.' But I said, ‘I'm not coming out of the game.'"
Understandably so. Rodgers has sat too long and prepared too much to limp away from an opportunity to actually play. He spent the entire off-season working with head coach Mike McCarthy, quarterbacks coach Tom Clements, and offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski learning the Packers offensive scheme. He lifted weights to get stronger, and watched film to get smarter.
"On a personal level, you feel terrible for him because the first thing you think about is, here's a guy who has been here since March 20," McCarthy said. "He's been here every day, went through the quarterbacks school, getting ready to be the potential starter for our football team and was getting ready to play, then that happens to him. I feel bad for him on a personal level, but as a professional he has a lot of room to grow."
Rodgers had a pretty good idea that his foot was broken in the third quarter, but he opted to play through the pain. He took a big step as a leader of the Pack. Though he failed to help the Packers avert a shutout, he had to score points with teammates and coaches to show that he'll endure some pain and be there, as long as he is physically able.
"In retrospect, I hope that it shows my teammates how much I care about them," Rodgers said. "I put the team in front of my personal health. I hope it shows what type of guy they're getting in the future, a guy who will be able to play through pain and continue to try and lead the team."
Rodgers probably will be missing out on opportunities to play and gain valuable experience as the Packers head down the stretch of this season. With six games remaining and a 4-6 record, the Packers are a longshot to qualify for the NFL playoffs. If Rodgers were healthy, he quite possibly could have been in line to play some meaningful minutes behind Favre. Now, all he can do is lean on his crutches and watch.
"I'm pretty bummed," Rodgers said. "I wanted to get an opportunity to play … I love going through a week of practice, work with the scout team daily, and trying to get better. It's frustrating. Mentally it still hasn't sunk in yet. I won't be able to do things I used to be able to do. It definitely is going to make me a better person and give me a greater love for the game because it's been taken away."
Rodgers plans to stick around and sit through meetings and watch film. He'll be taking notes. He estimates that he'll be off the crutches in about six weeks and should be ready to participate in the off-season minicamps and training camp.
Rodgers will be back, chomping at the bit for another opportunity. He deserves it.
Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at email@example.com.