Rodgers takes long, winding road to Super Bowl greatness

Three years as the starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers was all it took for Aaron Rodgers to win his first Super Bowl.

Rodgers made things look easy as he threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns on his way to becoming the MVP of Super Bowl XLV.

As easy as Rodgers made the situation seem, the journey there was anything but for the 27-year-old signal caller.

All the adversity that Rodgers had to deal with this season with the Packers was nothing compared to the challenges he had to face on his journey to the National Football League.

The story is a good read with chapters filled with so many twists and turns that it’s hard to believe.

Rodgers was undersized coming out of high school and received one offer from a Division-1 program, a chance to walk-on at the University of Illinois. He chose to attend Butte Community College in northern California instead.

Rodgers performed well during his time at Butte, but still had trouble attracting the eyes of Division-1 coaches.

That was until Jeff Tedford, the head coach at the University of California, Berkley, came to Butte College to look at tight end Garrett Cross and saw Rodgers play — end chapter one.

Tedford and the Golden Bears offered Rodgers a scholarship, and five games into his first season as a Golden Bear, Rodgers got the opportunity to start.

Rodgers would excel over the next two seasons, which then led him to forgo his senior season and enter the 2005 NFL draft. That’s when the real fun began.

Rodgers and University of Utah quarterback Alex Smith were among a small group of players, who were believed to go in the first couple of picks and were invited to attend the draft ceremony.

In the end, the San Francisco 49ers ultimately were won over by Smith’s tools and the numbers he put up in Urban Meyer’s system at Utah. He was selected with the No. 1 overall pick.

Rodgers was left sitting and waiting at Radio City Music Hall as names such as Cedric Benson, Adam “Pac-Man” Jones, David Pollack and Fabian Washington were called.

That was until the Packers were on the clock with the 24th overall pick.

The Packers had no dire need at quarterback with Brett Favre cemented at the position, but first-year general manager Ted Thompson decided to draft his quarterback of the future — end chapter two.

Rodgers spent most of his rookie season watching from the sidelines — he did see time in three games — while Smith was thrown into the fray, seeing extensive action in eight games.

In 2006, the Packers fired Mike Sherman and brought in Mike McCarthy, Smith’s offensive coordinator in 2005 — can you say ironic? — who went 21-11 in his first two seasons with Favre as his quarterback.

Coming off a loss to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game, Favre held a teary-eyed press conference after the 2007 season where he announced he would be retiring. That lasted a few months until Favre reconsidered and elected to come back for the 2008 season.

The Packers did not exactly accept him with open arms. Thompson and McCarthy went against popular opinion and stuck with Rodgers over Favre, who was later traded to the New York Jets — end chapter three.

The 2008 season ended with the Packers at 6-10, which added more fuel to the fire in the hearts of fans doubting Rodgers. Rodgers responded by carrying the Packers to an 11-5 record and a trip to the wild card round of the playoffs in 2009 but was still overshadowed by his predecessor who took the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game.

The Packers entered the 2010 season with high hopes until things started to spiral out of control as player after player was put on injured reserved.

Rodgers himself also missed time dealing with concussions.

None of that was able to stop the Packers though as they rallied in the last two games of the regular season and clinched the NFC’s No. 6 seed.

From there the Packers became road warriors who went into Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago and came out with victories before heading to Dallas to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers.

As Rodgers walked off the field Sunday night all the doubts seemed to evaporate and that imaginary championship belt Rodgers seems to love became a reality — end chapter four.

Chapter Five will start when the 2011 season kicks off. No one will know what it will bring, but I’m sure Rodgers will be able to handle it, and I’m sure it’ll be a good read.

All information for this article was obtained from ESPN.com.

Brandon Gould can be reached at gould9@tcnj.edu.