Aaron Rodgers: 'I’ve felt like I’ve had to justify myself every year'
Aaron Rodgers cashed in with the biggest contract in Green Bay Packers history this offseason and became the highest-paid player in the NFL and he calls the pay day “humbling.”
The former MVP quarterback is facing the challenge of remaining true to who he is and admits it’s just that – a challenge – in a an expansive interview with Jason Wilde of ESPN Wisconsin.
“It’s humbling and silly at times to think about it,” Rodgers said. “But money doesn’t change people, I don’t think. I think it highlights characteristics in your personality that maybe weren’t so visible when you didn’t have as much. So I’ve tried to remember that and stay true to who I am as a person and as a teammate.
"The guys have been great. There’s jokes every now and then, but I’m trying to be the same person in the locker room that I was when I was a backup and working on the scout team. It gives you an extra responsibility that you take care of the people that are important to you and realize that you have an opportunity to make an even bigger difference in your community and in your world.”
Rodgers isn’t worried about having to live up to the contract and he shouldn’t. The Packers paid him for future performance but they did so using a strong body of work to make a judgment.
“You know, I’ve felt like I’ve had to justify myself every year, so this is nothing different,” he said. “I wouldn’t look at it as a burden. When they drafted me, I wanted to prove I was worthy of being a first-round draft pick. When they named me the starter, I felt like I had to prove that I was worthy of being a starter.
“When we went 6-10 the first year, I felt like I had to prove that I belonged in this league and we could get to the playoffs. When we didn’t win in the playoffs (in 2009), I had to prove that I could help this team win a playoff game. When we won a Super Bowl, I had to prove that it wasn’t a fluke, that we could have another good season. There’s always going to be critics and doubters out there, and it’s about finding your inner motivation, because that’s what successful people can do.”
We’ll see how successful the Packers can be this season. The team is banking on Rodgers leading the way, that is for sure.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune