FORMER 49ERS FAN
The Packers' quarterback and Northern California native has nine TDs and zero interceptions in his last two games and an NFL-best 109.6 QB rating.
DAN PATRICK:Do you like watching the NFL when you're not playing?
AARON RODGERS: If I have a noon game, it's fun to watch the Sunday night game. I'm still a fan.
DP:Are you still a bit of a Niners fan?
DP:When did you turn in your 49ers' fan card?
AR: April 23, 2005.
DP:Whose poster did you have on your wall as a kid?
AR: Joe Montana riding a horse with a cowboy hat.
DP:What was it like to meet him?
AR: It was last year at the NFL Honors. It's kind of like when I met Michael Jordan—you're trying to act like it's not a big deal. [Montana] was great though. We both had Mike McCarthy as a coach, so we told some funny Mike stories.
DP:Did you learn something from your idols?
AR: I always paid close attention to how they acted on the field. I always loved how Michael wanted the ball in his hands down the stretch. And Joe's last-second comebacks. All my favorite players wanted the ball in their hands down the stretch.
DP:Do you know how good the Packers are right now?
AR: We have the potential to be a great team. We're trying to figure out what it means to be consistent. We're in that phase where we're trying to figure out who the main contributors are going to be and what roles guys will fill.
DP:Can you explain why Jermichael Finley said that you and he didn't have chemistry?
AR: You'd have to ask him. We've done a great job of limiting distractions. We do a good job of keeping things in house. Occasionally someone who might not speak for the team will say something. We move forward.
DP:What about Shannon Sharpe's criticizing you on the CBS pregame show?
AR: Again, you're going to have to ask him. I've never met him. I'm not sure where he's getting his information. But, hey, it's America. Freedom of speech.
DP:Of the tough criticism you've gotten, what is fair?
AR: Unless someone tells me about it, I don't hear a whole lot. I heard about the Shannon Sharpe stuff, but that kind of falls on deaf ears. There's not much that was really applicable to our team.
DP:An opposing coach had one of his players wear a blond wig in practice to simulate your teammate Clay Matthews. Is there a guy out there you pay special attention to because of his hair?
AR: Troy Polamalu's got that long flowing hair. It's pretty easy to figure out where he's at. When you think about guys with distinguishing features, [what distinguishes them is] not just because they catch your eye ... it's because they're great players.
DP:Is there one player you always identified first when you looked across the line?
AR: It used to be Jared Allen when he had the mullet, but then he cut it.
DP:Because it was a competitive disadvantage?
AR: Maybe so. His wife may have had something to do with it too.
I'd rather fall down. I'll run by him. I don't even try to get close to him. If I ran into Peyton Manning in practice, they'd probably let me go. They'd probably let my position coach go."
—VON MILLER, Broncos defensive end, on hitting the quarterback in practice
Bob Stoops says he doesn't know his team's BCS ranking and doesn't buy into the polls at this point in the season. I asked the Oklahoma coach when we'd get a true sense of title contenders. "When [teams] play four or five conference games instead of lesser opponents," Stoops said.... YES Network analyst Paul O'Neill said the Tigers benefited from great chemistry while his former team, the Yankees, were the opposite. "You feed off each other emotionally as far as hitting well," O'Neill told me. "[The Yankees] fed off each other in a negative way." ... LSU coach Les Miles said he respects his fellow SEC coaches but isn't eager to spend more time with them. "I don't think anybody's going vacationing with each other," Miles said. "You have thoughts that reflect a negative outcome for those guys." ... I asked Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski how long I would last with him and his three brothers if I came to the house for a weekend. "Probably an hour," Gronkowski said. "My little brother would give you his signature [wrestling] move."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (PATRICK)
JOE NICHOLSON/US PRESSWIRE (RODGERS)
AL TIELEMANS (GRONKOWSKI)
AL TIELEMANS (MILES)
ETHAN MILLER/GETTY IMAGES FOR MJCI (O'NEILL)
JIMMY DEFLIPPO (STOOPS)