Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers
As the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, Aaron Charles Rodgers, or "Chuck" as some insiders call him, made all the right moves leading his team to a Super Bowl XLV victory this past season.
What's less surprising to those who have observed Rodgers since his arrival in the NFL is that he continues to make them in the public arena outside of football. As a result, his star is quickly becoming secure among the elite of all sports.
It started with how he handled the NFL Draft in 2005. Widely predicted to be the first QB selected in the first round, Rodgers endured a long slide down the list until the Packers saw him as the best player available in the 24th slot.
Rodgers, while obviously disappointed, made no public display of displeasure when the possibility of starting for the San Francisco 49ers turned into going to the frozen tundra of Green Bay and sitting behind the legendary Brett Favre.
Rodgers' next public test was the strange exit of Favre after several years of retirement two-stepping. Favre, in a sense, was Lucy Van Pelt pulling the ball away from "Chuck" just as he was about to get his chance at kicking it.
After General Manager Ted Thompson and Head Coach Mike McCarthy made the unwavering commitment to Rodgers, Favre attempted one last grab at the ball. McCarthy stated, however, "That train has left the station."
Both local and national media were constantly asking Rodgers to comment on how he felt about the awkward transfer of the position. Rodgers—who I have come to see as an intelligent, thoughtful and brutally honest person—was quick to say "no comment" and simply talk about the future opportunity.
With the exception of one interview where he basically stated that Packers fans would have to move forward with him, Rodgers handled the incredibly difficult situation without a note of immaturity that occurs with so many young players who are thrown into the spotlight.
Since then, Rodgers and Packers fans have moved forward, although most still appreciate Favre and his 1996 team that led the team out of a 30-year desert and brought the Lombardi Trophy home.
Rodgers has handled his personal life, particularly his single life, with incredible maturity. While he has dated some high profile women, Rodgers does not "kiss and tell." Not only does he strongly protect his privacy regarding his interpersonal relationships, but he is quick to change the subject when reporters veer from NFL to TMZ questions.
It is simply none of our business. Good move.
Rodgers has sought counsel from other players and professionals, most notably his close friend, broadcaster and Super Bowl winning QB, Trent Dilfer.
As the Super Bowl approached this year, Rodgers was able to speak with many former NFL elites who gave him advice on how to handle the game as well as off-the-field counsel and life-after-football advice. These mentors included Troy Aikman, Steve Young and Kurt Warner.
At Super Bowl Media Day, Rodgers was asked if he had heard from or spoken to Brett Favre. Rodgers' curt yet polite answer was, "No." The was nothing more to be said. Yet another smart move.
Since being named Super Bowl XLV MVP, Rodgers has been on a whirlwind tour, from Disney World and David Letterman to an appearance this week on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. Rodgers was affable, funny, and quick-witted through it all, with no slip-ups.
Yesterday it was announced that Rodgers has struck a multi-year agreement with Good Karma Broadcasting that operates the ESPN Radio stations in Wisconsin. He will become part of the face of the company and have weekly on air appearances.
The deal was reportedly struck prior to the playoff run when Rodgers was out because of a concussion. Rodgers has continued on with that commitment, even though his Super Bowl victory has launched him into a new stratosphere of NFL stardom.
Good Karma CEO Craig Karmazin stated during the announcement that Rodgers is the same high-quality, high-character person that he was when he joined the Packers.
Super Bowl fame has changed what he is, not who he is.
Why local radio when Rodgers could easily have inked a deal with a national gig? That seems to be multi-faceted. A proving ground for a future career perhaps? It could also be a well developed relationship with ESPN Wisconsin's Jason Wilde (who is a rising star in the NFL reporting and commentary ranks in his own rite), his respect for Karmazin and the rest of the staff, and a desire to share more of himself with his fan base of Packers fans, just to name a few.
If Rodgers wants to make it to the national broadcast booth or studio and follow in the footsteps of Aikman, Dilfer, Warner and Young, this seems like a well thought-out way to gain experience in the field while providing fans at home and those abroad via streaming and podcast with greater access to who he is and what he thinks.
Packers fans hope that Rodgers will be around for a long time as their starting QB, but if injury or performance cuts his career shorter than expected, it appears that he is making a "right move" to a successful life-after-football broadcasting career.