GREEN BAY – It turns out that Sunday wasn’t the first time Aaron Rodgers has been poked in the eye during a game. The first time, it was actually worse.
The Green Bay Packers quarterback said Tuesday on his weekly radio show on 540 ESPN and ESPNWisconsin.com that what happened in Sunday’s victory over the New Orleans Saints – safety Malcolm Jenkins poking him in the right eye with two fingers while racking up a personal foul facemask penalty – happened to him in high school in Chico, Calif.
“Against Shasta my junior year in high school in the year 2000, we were playing a game at home and I got poked in the left eye really badly and actually scratched my cornea and had to sit out for about a quarter until my vision came back,” Rodgers said. “We ended up winning that football game against Shasta. I was hoping (Sunday’s eye injury) was not going to be like that because that day my left eye was almost swollen shut, and my right eye was humungous to compensate for the other eye. So I was wondering kind of what it was going to look like.”
Other than a scratch on his face, Rodgers was no worse for wear appearance-wise. He also said that he does not intend to wear a protective clear shield on his facemask for Sunday’s game at Indianapolis.
And while he said the high-school eye injury was scarier, Rodgers did admit that he could not see normally immediately after the poke.
“We had a roll out on that play called and they brought some empty pressure. I didn’t have anybody, I was looking to hit Donald (Driver), but they kind of passed it off pretty good with the route concept we had,” Rodgers said. “As I came out I wanted to extend the play a little bit, give my guys a chance to work and gave Malcom a little stutter step to free myself up a little bit. And he grabbed inside my facemask and gave me like a two-finger punch to the eye and a face mask. I actually lost vision for a second there.
“The thought going through my mind immediately after was, did they call the flag? And if so, should I just toss it in the end zone here knowing we have a free play. The intelligence kind of kicked in, though, and I decided to throw a higher percentage pass to Donald there right on the corner that was incomplete. Then at that point I was wondering if my eye was scratched badly.”
The team’s medical staff attended to Rodgers, who was told by referee Jeff Triplette that NFL rules would have allowed him to stay in the game had he chosen to do so. Instead, at the urging of the medical staff, he came out, and backup quarterback Graham Harrell promptly tripped and fell coming out from under center, fumbling a handoff to Cedric Benson and turning the ball over on first-and-goal from the New Orleans 1-yard line.
“I couldn’t see very well. Everything was just kind of bouncing around a little bit,” Rodgers said. “If I had just closed my right my left eye would have been looking really good, and if I would have just looked through my right eye I probably would have been okay as well as I was doing on the sideline. When you have both open; the right eye obviously had some trauma to it, and I was just having a hard time trying to be able to get that depth perception as the eyes were trying to balance each other out. I went down to one knee knowing that I would give Graham a little bit of time to warm up knowing we were inside the five there with probably an automatic first down.
“Triplette came over and said that I could stay in the game. I asked where we were at and he said we were on the 1-yard line and (coach) Mike (McCarthy) said, ‘Hey, we’re going to run it here. Can you go?’ And I just said, ‘I’m having a hard time with the depth perception, I’m not sure if that’s going to affect me handing the ball off.’ And the doctors were kind of advising me to just come out for at least a play or two.
“It wasn’t until probably until about five real minutes later until I felt really good about getting back into the game. It just took a while after the drops went into my eyes to feel like I was ready to go back in there.”
Meanwhile, although Rodgers insisted he would “never” wear a shield, he does have another protective accessory at his disposal this week against the Colts.
“You know, I have always enjoyed dressing up like a pirate, wearing an eye patch I think would be awesome and would add some legitimacy to my toughness,” Rodgers said. “It would have been sweet to go back in the game with an eye patch and lead us to victory. People aren’t wearing eye patches as often anymore. What is up with that?
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