Dilfer on Favre, Rodgers

The retiring quarterback provides insights into the Packers' former (?) and current signal-callers

Super Bowl-winning quarterback Trent Dilfer praised Aaron Rodgers and provided an insight into what is possibly drawing Brett Favre out of his four-month retirement.

Dilfer spoke Wednesday — before Favre asked the Packers for his release — with Rodgers via a conference call from the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament at Lake Tahoe. Dilfer used the occasion to say he's retiring, but that nugget was overshadowed by the Favre hoopla.

Asked what he'd miss most about the NFL, the 36-year-old Dilfer said it was the locker-room camaraderie. That's something the 38-year-old Favre may be pondering as he thinks about his first fall without football since he was a young boy.

"Everybody I talk to says that's about the hardest thing to get away from is just the locker room," Dilfer said. "Just being around the guys each day, the routine of the season and just being part of the team. Being part of a team is a special thing, and that's what I've always enjoyed most about football. It's the ultimate team sport. So, that's going to be very difficult."

Golf provides a competitive fix for Dilfer — he finished sixth at last year's American Century Championship — much like spending time working on his 400-plus acres in Mississippi keeps Favre busy. But neither sinking birdie putts nor clearing brush is the same as coming together with teammates and working toward a common goal.

"The locker room environment, it's very hard to put it into words," Dilfer said. "It's unique and it's impossible to replace."

As for Rodgers, Dilfer was confident his friend would persevere just fine through the latest chapter in the never-ending Favre saga, no matter how it turns out.

"He's incredibly mentally tough," Dilfer said. "He's been very, very patient. I think his relationship with Brett has grown very strong over the years. He's appreciated what he's learned from Brett. He's appreciated watching Brett do his thing — which is an amazing thing to watch from afar, so I can imagine how cool it's been to watch first-hand.

"At the same time, Aaron was very energized by Brett's retirement. (He) was excited to kind of take the reins, and from everything I've heard in Green Bay, he has done a fabulous job this offseason of doing that and being himself, yet leading and embracing the role very adamently after Brett left."

Yet, Rodgers could lose the starting job if Favre indeed decides to call the biggest audible of his professional life.

"I think it would be frustrating for him. I think he'd be disappointed," Dilfer said of Rodgers. "Obviously, Brett holds all the cards here. But at the same time, like anything, he would deal with it. Just because Brett would come back — if he were to come back and play and start and all of those things — you're always one snap away. I know we're saying that about the most durable football player in the history of the NFL, but things chance rapidly, very quickly, in this league, and you're one snap away and all of the hard work you've invested in this thing can still pay off. It just may not be the scenario that everybody had planned on."

Dilfer was asked if spending a fourth season watching from the sideline could possibly derail Rodgers' budding career.

"No, there's no shelf life," Dilfer said. "Not if you handle it correctly, which Aaron has done well. I would say Aaron is the model for how you handle it.

"It's funny, two guys that I've seen handle it the best have come from Green Bay: Matthew Hasselbeck, when he was there, (and Rodgers). Although (Hasselbeck) wasn't drafted to be a starter, in his mind, he was doing that. ... The way Matthew did it and the way Aaron has done it — where they get a lot of playing time in the preseason and handle a lot of the offseason because the starter isn't necessarily always involved. And … they're natural-born leaders, and the starter doesn't get threatened by their leadership, so they've been able to be in a backup role but still command a part of the football team.

"So, both of them have done it. Aaron has done it wonderfully. Because of that, he can wait in the wings for years, and when it's his time to play, he'll be fine and be very successful. You've got to look at Steve Young and what he went through in San Francisco and look at that model. Yes, he played early on and had some failures, but as long as you're getting reps in training camp and in the preseason, you'll be sharp."

Bill Huber writes for Packer Report. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com

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