Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers the Latest to Succeed Against the Odds

Brian KinelCorrespondent IIIOctober 26, 2012

Aaron Rodgers
Aaron RodgersDavid Welker/Getty Images

I’m not exactly going out on a limb by declaring Aaron Rodgers the best quarterback in the NFL. He shares something with previous holders of that distinction, Tom Brady and Joe Montana.

Arm strength? Montana, not so much. Speed? Brady moves like he’s stuck in molasses. Smarts? Okay, that one applies.

No, what these three share is an inner drive fueled by talk that they couldn’t do what they so wanted to do. What they ended up doing. Succeeding in the NFL.

Rodgers recently revealed the driving force behind his motivation on his weekly radio show.

After not being recruited out of high school, Rodgers went the junior college route and found himself the starter at the University of California. His professor for food appreciation had a real issue with athletes and didn’t give Aaron the same opportunity to re-do a paper that the other students got.

Rodgers, who made the Pac-10 All-Academic second team, went late to practice so he could meet with the professor and ask why she wouldn’t allow him to re-write the paper.

Instead of an answer, Rodgers got a rant from her about athletes expecting everything to be handed to them. She asked him what he wanted to do with his life and when he said his goal was to play in the NFL, she laughed derisively at him and said he would never make it nor would he make it through Cal.

Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers and their fans thank that professor profusely.


Adversity can be tough to go through at the time but usually ends up benefiting those that go through it. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Is it possible that a factor in who succeeds and who fails has to do with the struggle, or lack thereof, that the person goes through?

The three quarterbacks I mentioned earlier will go down as among the greatest in the history of the NFL. We just discussed Rodgers’ experience at Cal and we know about his slide from the possible No 1 pick in the 2005 draft to the No. 24 pick.

Joe Montana struggled to get on the field at first while at Notre Dame. Every time he did, good things happened for the Irish. Still, his lack of obvious physical skills caused him to last until the third round where the San Francisco 49ers grabbed him with the No. 82 pick of the draft.

It’s mind boggling to me that 198 players were chosen in the 2000 draft before New England drafted Tom Brady in the sixth round. Side note: four-year-old Tom Brady was at the NFC Championship game in 1982 when Montana and Dwight Clark hooked up on “The Catch”. Brady idolized Montana and wanted to be a 49er. The No. 65 pick of the 2000 draft in the third round? Quarterback Giovanni Carmazzi out of Hofstra by the San Francisco 49ers. Oh what could have been.

Contrast the experiences of Rodgers, Montana and Brady with those of Vince Young, Matt Leinart and now Cam Newton.

These three didn’t face the same adversity as Rodgers, Montana and Brady. Young and Newton had always been more talented than the other players on the field until they got to the NFL. Leinart was always surrounded by players far more talented than those on the other side.

They have struggled tremendously since getting to the NFL, once the talent caught up to Young and Newton, and the team Leinart plays against has the same or better talent than his.

It’s said that life isn’t so much about good or bad moments but how we handle them. I know the book isn’t written yet on Newton, but I don’t like how the story is going. It appears to me that his lack of maturity is rearing its ugly head as it did for Young. That may not be a problem for a linebacker, but it is for a quarterback. The position is different. If I were drafting a quarterback, I’d look for someone who has gone through some struggles. It applies not only to the three I mentioned, but to Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Eli Manning who didn’t play with a ton of NFL players on their college teams. They didn’t have an easy road.

That means something in life.


Follow me at Twitter @sprtsramblngman.