Rodgers: ‘I'm ready for anything'

The Favre saga adds to pressure but helps the new starting quarterback grow up

The honeymoon is over for Aaron Rodgers. That became fact a week and a half into training camp in early August, two months after the young quarterback had his notoriously long, shaggy hair cut to appease a family friend who was getting married. Rodgers has reverted back to letting his hair down in the late summer, but no one is about to question the follicle motives of the appointed leader of the Green Bay offense.

"I think Aaron Rodgers is given an excellent opportunity to succeed here at quarterback," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.

The sentiment voiced at the end of training camp was confirmation of earlier well-cited utterances made by McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson to the effect of "it's time to move on" and "Aaron Rodgers is our starting quarterback."

One of the more abbreviated Green Bay training camps in recent years — the team was put through only 25 practices from July 28 to Aug. 26 — was dominated early on by searing national exposure when Brett Favre came out of retirement.

Favre, the face of the franchise for the better part of his 16-year run as the Packers' only starting quarterback, caused a stir by reporting to the team after a week of camp. He never suited up and didn't make so much as a cameo appearance on the practice field. His ploy on the heels of a festering feud with club management orchestrated through the media resulted in Favre being traded two days later, on Aug. 6, to the New York Jets for a conditional draft pick in 2009.

To Rodgers' credit, he didn't crumble in the face of a potential return to the Packers by Favre, who undoubtedly would have reclaimed his starting job despite contentions by Thompson and McCarthy that Rodgers would have had a fair shot to remain the starter in a purported competition.

"I think he grew up," McCarthy said of Rodgers. "I think we all grew up a little bit during that situation. I think he did a very good job of handling a challenge, handling a situation that there really wasn't a script for and was unprecedented. I think it is definitely something he can learn from."

Rodgers says he has come away unscathed as a better man and as a more hardened player who has been entrusted like no other to follow in the footsteps of the NFL's only three-time MVP, who, at age 38, nearly rallied the league's youngest team to the Super Bowl last season.

"I'm ready for anything, I feel like," Rodgers said. "It's been a difficult time the last few months, as far as the attention I've gotten, but I think I'm ready for it. I know it's going to be amped up once the season starts. I'm going to be definitely scrutinized, but that's the job of being an NFL quarterback.

"There's a lot of pressure on you outside of the building. Guys expect you to play well inside of the locker room. I think I'm ready for anything that comes, and I'm just trying to take it in stride."


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