He'll have great
fans ... but great fans pay awfully close attention. The same goes for the
media, local and national, who will dissect every audible, every snap, every
throw. "That's the biggest difference today," says Domres. "Back in
our time every reporter was a homer. Now you get watched every which way.
Hopefully [Rodgers] won't pay attention to that, but it's hard not to."
It is, though, an
area in which Rodgers feels prepared. He grew up admiring how athletes like
Montana, David Robinson and Michael Jordan handled the press, and he can
already mimic their measured, bland responses. He even has a checklist of sorts
for interviews: Be available, be friendly, be brief and be "mostly
however, he forgets his own checklist and is perhaps too honest. Asked whether
he feels pressure to connect with the fans the way Favre did, Rodgers answers
unequivocally. "I don't feel I need to sell myself to the fans," he
says. "They need to get on board now or keep their mouths shut."
sentiments probably won't encourage much in the way of shrine construction in
Green Bay—or recommend Rodgers's services as a "media adviser"—they are
consistent with the advice the old QBs provide: Don't change a thing. "I
remember going out there in my first game, versus the Seahawks, and I think my
first pass hit the dirt around the receiver's feet," says Fiedler.
"From then on I said to myself, Jay, just go out and play the way you've
been playing for the last 20 years. Because that's all you can do."
Of course, it's
easier said than done, especially if, as in Rodgers's case, you haven't been
playing much these last three seasons. Still, now is his time, even if his
long-awaited debut, Sept. 8 against the Vikings at Lambeau on Monday Night
Football, just happens to be ... the night they retire Brett Favre's
right? The kid finally gets a chance to take the spotlight, and Favre will be
there, looming over him, not just metaphorically but physically. It's best for
Rodgers to get used to it. Because that's how it is in the NFL: Legendary
quarterbacks never go away, even when they go away.