Politi: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers may eventually outshine Brett Favre

The puzzled looks could become common in a few years, in living rooms and the sports bars all over Wisconsin, when Packers rack their cheeseheads for an answer to this question:

“What was the name of that fella who played quarterback before Aaron Rodgers?”

You know, the one with the funny last name. The one who was just wee bit indecisive with the whole retirement thing. The one who got in trouble with those cell-phone camera photos of his you-know-what.

Brett Favre. Remember him?

Green Bay still does, of course, but Rodgers has the talent and supporting cast to do the rarest thing in sports. He might not only replace a legend. He might eventually outshine him.

He was the MVP of Super Bowl XLV on Sunday night, leading the Packers to a 31-25 victory over the Steelers at Cowboys Stadium, but this felt like more than that. This felt like the beginning of a long run.

A dynasty in the making.

“People are going to write stories about Aaron 10 years from now, he’s pretty special,” Packers general manager Ted Thompson said. “Even though he is done so much, he’s still just getting started.”

The Packers have a talented young defense, one that stopped the Steelers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on a final drive. They've enough offensive talent to lose several of their best playmakers, including veteran receiver Donald Driver in the first half, and still win four straight in the playoffs. They've an excellent coaching staff, starting with the underrated Mike McCarthy.

But mostly, they've a 27-year-old quarterback who announced himself as one of the best players in the game with this postseason run, and one who doesn’t figure to go anywhere soon.

Green Bay has Rodgers. He completed 24 of 39 passes for 304 yards, and that includes at least a half dozen that his receivers dropped. He avoided the mistakes that Roethlisberger, with two killer interceptions, couldn't.

His brilliance, once again, was making the impossible seem ordinary. The best example came after the Steelers had cut the lead to three points, and on the next drive, the Packers faced a third-and-10 from their own 25.

There were 6 minutes left, and the towel-waving Pittsburgh fans were sensing an epic comeback. But then Rodgers lofted a pass over the extended arm of Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor, missing his fingers tips by what seemed like inches.

The ball landed in the only place that receiver Greg Jennings could catch it — and he caught it in stride, racing 31 yards into Steelers territory — before safety Troy Polamalu could stop him. The Packers would turn that drive into a crucial field goal.

“I put the ball where I wanted to,” Rodgers said, because he’s as understated as he is accurate, “and Greg made a great play.”

Rodgers turned Driver’s replacement, unheralded receiver Jordy Nelson, into a part of Super Bowl lore. Nelson, who had nine catches in his final 4 regular-season games, had 9 for 140 yards and a touchdown Sunday night alone.

The Packers won despite running the ball just 13 times all game. McCarthy put the offense in Rodgers hands, allowing him to make the calls in the huddle, and Rodgers delivered.

“To be honest, I didn’t expect anything less from A-Rod,” said defensive tackle B.J. Raji, who graduated from Westwood Regional High. “He’s been doing this the whole season and throughout the playoffs. I believe the best is yet to come for him.”

To think, Rodgers was the one who couldn’t get a Division 1 scholarship offer out of high school, the one who sat red-faced in the Radio City Music Hall green room on draft day as his stock unexpected dropped. He was the one who had to wait out Favre’s annual will-he-or-won’t-he retirement decisions.

Thompson was the one brave enough to cut ties with Favre in 2008, sending him to the Jets to give Rodgers his shot. The fanbase was outraged, but the Packers knew what they had.

“Give him credit for learning, and not just sitting there waiting for Brett to be done,” Nelson said. “He perfected his game to be ready for this, and look where we're now.”

Rodgers has completed 118 of 174 passes in his five postseason games (67.8 percent) for 1,517 yards, 13 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. But numbers don’t define quarterbacks.


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