By DREW OLSON
During his remarkable six-year journey from clipboard-toting backup to Super Bowl XLV MVP, regular-season MVP-in-waiting and unofficial face of the National Football League, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has drawn motivation from people who have snubbed, slighted and shortchanged his ability.
There is one guy in particular that -- even now -- Rodgers has a hard time mentioning by name.
If that last sentence conjured an image of a graybeard retiree wearing a sweat-stained baseball cap while riding a tractor, stop right there...
Brett Favre is yesterday’s news in Wisconsin. The guy who makes Rodgers’ skin crawl is -- drumroll, please -- ESPN commentator Skip Bayless.
Rodgers revealed this during his weekly radio show on 540 ESPN. Jason Wilde, the Packers reporter at ESPNMilwaukee.com and co-host of the show, asked “How do you deal with people who told you that you weren’t good enough coming out of Cal, but now think you’re really good?”
As usual, Rodgers didn’t pull punches with his response.
“I just think it just goes to the point that you can’t take a whole lot of what those people say too personally because they’re shock experts on ESPN and NFL Network. A lot of them are just going for the shock value of what they’re saying, as is typified by that guy on ESPN, I don’t want to even say his name. He works for “First Take.”
“All he does is say things that are so ridiculous just for the shock value. So everybody who was saying stuff about our team this offseason about not getting together for workouts, there hasn’t been a lot of talk about that. The different people who said stuff about whatever player they are talking about over the years, I think sometimes people forget about the human element to our story."
“We take stuff personally at times. We get upset if somebody says something real negative about us, but more than that, our families do, our friends do, and they feel like they need to tell you. So, I think that stuff just reminds you that you can’t take yourself too seriously, and you can’t take the pundits too seriously.”
Bayless hasn’t been particularly hard on Rodgers, but he did take a “wait-until-he-wins-something” approach to the quarterbacks rise and tends to rate the Bradys, Manning and Tebows of the world ahead of the guy currently rewriting the record books in Green Bay.
Wilde asked if Rodgers would consider squaring off with Bayless on “First Take,” like Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh did a few weeks back.
“I don’t even want to give him the satisfaction of me going on that show and schooling him,” Rodgers said. “Without a doubt I think I would. There’s just not a whole lot of desire for that.”
The cage match will have to wait.
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