Those San Francisco 49ers fans who watched veteran quarterback Alex Smith pretty much barf all over himself against the New Orleans Saints in the team's preseason opener should not have been surprised. After all, Smith has been teetering between mediocrity and abject horribleness since he was taken first overall out of Utah in the 2005 NFL draft. The man who was selected 24th by the Green Bay Packers in that same draft, Cal's Aaron Rodgers, has had a slightly better go of it to date. After three years sitting behind Brett Favre, Rodgers finally got his shot, helped the Packers win Super Bowl XLV, and has become one of the best at his position in the league.
However, in the upcoming "America's Game" documentary about the current Super Bowl champions, Rodgers (who is one of three interviewed for the hour-long documentary, along with cornerback Charles Woodson and head coach Mike McCarthy) talked about the team he really wanted to play for when he was growing up in northern California and going to school in Oregon, and going to college at Cal (Berkley): The San Francisco 49ers.
"I dreamt about being the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers. I used to draw little plays on note cards and dream I was Joe Montana throwing passes in the backyard with dad," Rodgers says in the documentary. But in reality, there was little chance that Rodgers would be drafted so high. He spent his 2002 season at Butte College in Chico, Cal. before transferring to Cal, and he didn't really hit the radar until the 2004 season. Half a decade later, he's one of the best few quarterbacks in the game, but it took the long first-round wait — and years of sitting behind Brett Favre — before he could make it happen.
"On the inside, there was a lot of disappointment, embarrassment, just thinking about how hard you worked," he said of slipping in the draft. "But it was honestly the best thing that happened to me. I was 21 years old [and] I thought I was the best thing since sliced bread and I needed a little humble pie."
Favre, as was his wont, wasn't too happy about a first-round quarterback coming in, a subject Rodgers touches on in the show.
"Drafting a quarterback in the first round is a statement, we all know that. I think he was offended by it and wanted to prove that he was still the best quarterback on the team, in the league and I was going to be on the bench for awhile."
In the end, it all worked out. If you want to see how, you can watch the 2010 Green Bay Packers version of "America's Game" on Wednesday, September 7, at 9:00 p.m. EST. 49ers fans may wish to content themselves with Montana-to-Rice highlights.
- San Francisco 49ers
- Green Bay Packers
- Aaron Rodgers
- Brett Favre
- Alex Smith
- New Orleans Saints