Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has many reasons to walk through life with a large chip on his shoulder, should he so choose. He was a lightly recruited high school player that had to cut his teeth at Butte Junior College before Cal would give him a chance. In the 2005 NFL draft, he had to sit at Radio City Music Hall while teams passed him over for such future stars as Troy Williamson, Matt Jones, Alex Barron, and Mark Clayton, until the Packers took him with the 24th overall pick.
Then, of course, there was a very testy three years as Brett Favre's understudy before he was finally handed the reins of an NFL offense, and the tough upcurve before Rodgers finally got it right.
As it turns out, Rodgers has been driven by all sorts of motivations; some of which are more subtle. In the latest installment of his always-interesting weekly "Tuesdays With Aaron" radio show with ESPN Wisconsin's Jason Wilde, Rodgers told the story of an incident at Cal that still seems to burn. (H/T to the Sports Rapport site for the transcript):
I'm in this food appreciation class, and there's about 10 football players in the class of 200. Two teachers teaching it — they kind of alternated — anyway, there were breakout classes as well of about 30 that you were in where you went over your papers and got your homework assignments and stuff.
Long story short, we wrote this paper. For whatever reason, they didn't like the way we cited stuff and everybody in my breakout class got an F on the paper. So, we all got to re-write it, or so I thought. But, when I went to re-write it and turn it back in, I still had an F.
So I asked my breakout group [instructor], "How come I wasn't able to re-write it?" She couldn't give me an answer.
We started [football practice] at 2pm at Cal. The office hours for one of the teachers [also] started at 2. So I told my coach I was gonna be late, that I was gonna go down and talk to this teacher at Cal at her office hours.
I went in there and she was ready for me.
She basically ripped me apart and said that athletes always want stuff given to them, that I wasn't gonna be able to re-write my paper, and on and on and on. She went into this tirade about athletes and entitlements and whatnot. She basically picked on the wrong person in the class because I was probably the best student out of the 11 football players in there. I was second-team all-academic at Cal, if you do your research there.
To get to the best part of the story, she's looking at me, condescending, talking down to me. And she says, "What do you want to do with yourself?"
I said, "I want to play in the NFL."
She laughed. She LAUGHED at me. It was a condescending laugh and she said, "You'll never make it. You'll get hurt. You'll need your education, and you're not gonna make it through school here."
I said, "OK. I don't agree with any of that."
I just want to tell this to you today. "Thank you for adding to that chip on my shoulder and I hope that you're a fan."
So, yeah -- if you're in the mood to criticize Aaron Rodgers, keep in mind that he does not forget, and he's of the opinion that revenge is a dish best served cold.