Wisconsin sports got a huge boost from one of its biggest fans Thursday night when Aaron Rodgers paid a visit to Miller Park, threw out the first pitch (a fastball strike), and spent an inning in the Brewers’ broadcast booth.
Rodgers was in Milwaukee Thursday night at the invitation of the Brewers and proved once again that he’s one of the classiest men in professional sports.
His intelligence, maturity and fun-loving nature came through loud and clear when he spent one-half inning talking to broadcasters Brian Anderson and Bill Schroeder, answering simple questions (were you nervous in the Super Bowl?) and talking about how important it is for teams to bind, not only on the field, but in the locker room and in social situations.
And oh, he said he wasn’t nervous about playing in the Super Bowl. He said that he had two weeks to prepare for the game and he was confident he was going to play well and that the team was going to play well.
He described how he admired the locker room of the Brewers and compared it to that of the Packers … saying that the Brewers’ clubhouse was made up of a group of “really good guys” who know how to focus on their job, but how to work together as teammates.
He talked about the Packers locker room and how the different position groups had their personalities, but how they all come together for their common mission. He talked about Ted Thompson and how his leadership and ability to find talent has been the crux of the Packers success. He also said that Coach Mike McCarthy has instituted a system that has been successful because the talent fits the program so well.
He talked about his high school days playing baseball, pitching and being a marginal hitter. He demonstrated his love of sports, not only for football, but his admiration of all Wisconsin sports. He talked about being a big Wisconsin sports fan because he spends nine months of the year in the state. Not only has he struck up a strong relationship with Ryan Braun, but he talked about following the Bucks, Marquette, UW-Milwaukee and UW-Madison sports.
And he talked about it all with his usual calm confidence and contagious smile.
The only nervousness Rodgers admitted to was while describing his visit to the pitching mound for the game’s honorary first pitch delivered to his buddy, Ryan Braun.
“I was really nervous,” he said. “I got some tweets beforehand from people telling me not to throw it short,” he added. He also brought a chuckle when he said that Braun told him to throw a strike because he wasn’t wearing a cup.
When asked about winning the Super Bowl and the effect of that accomplishment on his life, Rodgers admitted there had been more recognizability because of it, but he also was sure to let people know that he has been able to use the recognition to further his favorite causes and charities. That is something that’s clearly near and dear to his heart and it was nice to hear him talk about his softer side.
Rodgers also addressed the issue that many teams’ players had begun gathering for informal workouts, but was very clear that the Packers had not done so at this point because he felt it wasn’t necessary – yet.
However, he did say that if the lockout continues into the next month that it would become necessary at some point for players to begin working out together.
That was good to hear because just the other day on this blog, I said it was good that the Packers players hadn’t found it necessary to pull the panic button just yet and are waiting patiently for the league and players association to settle their differences before taking action in getting together.
Now that we’re several months removed from this past season, it was good to see and hear from the Packers’ most recognizable player. It was good to hear that he hasn’t lost his enthusiasm and that he’s looking forward to another season of football.
It was also good to know that the even-keeled quarterback hasn’t let the fact that he is a Super Bowl champion interfere with his focus on life. No doubt, he will win another championship as a Packers player – let’s hope he wins multiple championships, because frankly, there isn’t any player that I’ve heard or watched that deserves it more.