After Draft Slight, Rodgers Is Ready for Payback

By Reischel, Rob | International Herald Tribune, January 11, 2013 | Go to article overview

After Draft Slight, Rodgers Is Ready for Payback


Reischel, Rob, International Herald Tribune


In a playoff game Saturday, Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers will play the 49ers in San Francisco for the first time since the team chose not to draft the California native in 2005.

By the time the Packers-49ers game kicks off Saturday night, it will have been 7 years, 8 months, 20 days and a little more than 3 hours.

Not that Aaron Rodgers is counting.

The National Football Conference divisional playoff game this weekend will be a homecoming of sorts for Rodgers, who grew up three hours northeast of San Francisco in Chico, California. He was a 49ers fan, wearing a Joe Montana T-shirt underneath his uniform in youth football and later idolizing Steve Young.

But his love affair with the team ended just over seven and a half years ago, when San Francisco passed over Rodgers and used the first pick of the 2005 National Football League draft on a another quarterback, Alex Smith.

Rodgers was eventually taken by Green Bay with the 24th pick. Since serving as Brett Favre's understudy for three seasons, Rodgers has experienced plenty of success, including winning the Super Bowl after the 2010 season and being named the league's most valuable player the next season.

Still, Saturday will be the first time that Rodgers, who played in college at the University of California, Berkeley, has played an N.F.L. regular-season or postseason game in San Francisco's Candlestick Park, adding a personal sidebar to a matchup that already has a trip to the N.F.C. championship game at stake.

"It will be fun," Rodgers said this week. "I went to a few baseball games there growing up and saw a game there when I was in college. It will be loud, it will be a great environment, and it should be a good show for the fans."

Rodgers and others around him have played down thoughts that a game against the 49ers in San Francisco was somehow more meaningful to him.

After all, he has overcome doubters at almost every stage of his career. He was overlooked coming out of high school and went to a junior college. …

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