“It’s very humbling. It’s a great honor,” Rodgers said to NFL Network after the announcement. “Anytime you’re recognized with that professional respect from your peers, that really means a lot to me. So I’d like to thank them for the votes. Obviously, this is a recognition that doesn’t get done without an incredible group of people around you. That’s often lost when the focus is on one individual. My teammates, my coaches, our tens of thousands of owners that we have there in Green Bay and across the country, I’ve got to give them a lot of thanks as well.”
Rodgers won a Super Bowl and Super Bowl MVP honors in the 2010 season and somehow had an even better year in 2011 by winning the NFL MVP. He broke numerous records last season while leading the Packers to a franchise-best 15-1 record. Green Bay also scored the second-most points in the league behind only the New Orleans Saints.
It seems like an impossible challenge to improve after winning a Super Bowl but Rodgers found a way to motivate himself. He wants to be the best there ever was, no questions asked. He watches so much game film each week that he knows exactly what the defense is going to do in any given situation before they do. Rodgers has an incredible drive to prove all the doubters wrong and to mark his name in NFL history next to his idols Joe Montana and Steve Young.
What also makes Rodgers so special, besides his perfect arm, is that he never likes to take too much credit even when it is due. For instance, when the Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers to win Super Bowl XLV, Terry Bradshaw attempted to praise Rodgers on his beautiful throws during the game. Instead of Rodgers accepting the compliments he quickly turned the attention to his entire team and praised them for playing so well. When the NFL Network wanted to talk to Rodgers about his accomplishment of being No. 1, Rodgers wanted to discuss other players instead.
“It’s a big accomplishment just to have that kind of respect from them,” Rodgers said. “Personally, there are so many incredible players on that list. Often the quarterback in our game gets a lot of the focus but if you look at that list, all the way down to 100, it’s a great thing for the league. There just so many great players. Great young players, great guys kind of in the middle of their career and veterans playing at a high level as well. I’m fortunate and blessed to have this recognition but Tom (Brady) to me is still that high watermark that I’ve been trying to get to. And the way that Drew (Brees) has played the last couple years, especially breaking the record last year. He’s playing incredible. And those are guys whose careers I’d like to model my own after.”
Drew Brees ranks No. 2 on the list while Tom Brady is No. 5 so maybe they will be trying to play emulate Rodgers in 2012. Rodgers does have a point though. There are so many talented players in the NFL that the league is getting more competitive as each season passes. Quarterbacks are playing at one of the highest levels ever seen while defenses are getting smarter by coming up with new schemes. It is certainly an exciting time to be a fan of the best sport in the world.
As for Rodgers, he will not have a problem trying to top his recent success. According to him there is always a way to get better and absorb more knowledge about the game. If you think he is done accomplishing everything he has set out to do, you are sorely mistaken.
“Winning more Super Bowls,” he said. “That’s the No. 1 thing. Especially after you win one and you go 15-1 in the regular season and then you lose in the first round, you deal with that disappointment. I think you just appreciate that experience you went through in the 2010-’11 season. Just wanting to win more championships. That’s what you get remembered for as a team and individually.”
That is music to the ears of his teammates and fans alike. Rodgers understands to be the best you must have the statistics, the hardware, and the respect of your peers. Technically, he has all three but we will find out in 2012 those accolades will simply not be enough.