Packers' Aaron Rodgers talks recovery, Super Bowl and 'Game of Thrones' theories
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was in Minnesota in the days leading up to the Super Bowl as a spokesman for Marriott Rewards and SPG Loyalty Programs — and one of the perks offered to some of its VIPs was a Super Bowl party the two-time league MVP hosted Saturday night. Rodgers took a few minutes away from his corporate pitchman duties to talk about the Pack, Super Bowl LII and entertainment with USA TODAY Sports.
Question: How's the collarbone?
Answer: It feels really good. I'm able to work out with no issues and swing a golf club with no issues.
Q: Thoughts on the Packers' shakeup with GM Ted Thompson stepping down and the changes on the coaching staff?
A: Change is part of the business, this year a little bit more than most with Ted moving to a different role and Eliot (Wolf) and Alonzo (Highsmith) going to different spots (both execs joined the Cleveland Browns), and Brian (Gutekunst) taking over as GM. Change is good, but it's also tough. It's a part of the league -- it’s the one thing you can count on. Ted is a big part of my career, obviously drafted me in 2005, and I owe a lot to him bringing me in, taking a chance on me with a Hall of Fame quarterback in front of me. I wish him well in his next chapter. But we're gonna keep on doing what we're doing in Green Bay and try to find a way to get back to playing this (Super Bowl) week instead of doing what we're doing right now.
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Q: Do you hope Brian Gutekunst is more active in free agency?
A: I think based on some of his comments, he's going to be aggressive. We gotta get better on both sides of the ball. And that's on Brian's staff, that's their job responsibility to give us a product we can work with and then it's on Mike (McCarthy) and the staff and leadership to make it work.
Q: Excited to be reunited with (offensive coordinator) Joe Philbin?
A: I love Joe Philbin. He was a big part of my development as a young player. Fantastic in front of a room, great teacher of the game, great at installs. Just really understands what we're doing on offense. Great personality. I had a conversation with him on the phone, and that was exciting. We fell right back into some of the inside jokes we had, and he's just a great football coach and glad we got him back.
Q: Any extra disappointment not being able to play in a Super Bowl in front of so many Vikings fans?
A: It's difficult no matter where it's at -- Houston, Arizona -- it's tough not to be playing. But there's a lot of fun to be had here. I just wish I was playing.
Q: Thoughts on Tom Brady's ever-growing legacy?
A: He's extremely accomplished obviously. What he's done in his career is second to none now with the amount of rings he's got. The way he takes care of his body is incredible. He's a first-ballot Hall of Famer who wants to wait to get in until he's 50. He's set the standard for quarterback play for generations to come, and it's impressive to watch and be in the league at the same time as him.
Q: And thoughts on what Nick Foles has managed to do?
A: That's the beauty of the Super Bowl, there's always some great stories. Nick is definitely one of them. He had a phenomenal season a few years back. Now he's back and he's behind a great young quarterback who unfortunately has an injury and everybody kinda writes Philly off except for them. They believed in each other, and Nick's played really, really well in the playoffs. I'm happy for him, he's a great guy. I hope he plays really well Sunday.
Q: Thoughts on fellow Pac-12 quarterbacks Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen?
A: I love watching my Cal Bears. And those are two great ones. I've communicated with both of them a little bit and made myself available to any questions. Josh is with our agency. Sam is super talented, what he did in the Rose Bowl was really impressive. Josh, he's got the total package. He throws it really well, he moves well enough, he's heady, smart, gamer. I think those guys both have a chance, situation-wise and opportunity-wise, to have a nice, long career.
Q: Anything you're hoping to see from Justin Timberlake at halftime?
A: Uh ... well, last time he was doing it, it was, uh ... exciting. Maybe another wardrobe malfunction?
Q: Your impression of Star Wars, and where's it going?
A: Haven't seen the new one. I'm a big fan, but haven't seen the new one, though. Rogue One was great, The Force Awakens was great.
Q: What are you waiting for, Mr. 'Big Fan'?
A: (Laughs defensively) I'm busy, man!
Q: OK, then where is 'Game of Thrones' headed in the final season?
A: I love that show. I'm excited to see what happens with this blue, fire-breathing dragon and the Night King. Sam's gotta come back in the mix with the weapons and dragon glass. Something's gotta happen when Khaleesi finds out she's been hooking up with her nephew. I think Arya and The Hound will be reunited, which will be interesting. Bryan of Tarth and the guy from the Hotels.com thing will probably be reunited (laughs) -- fun story lines. I loved last season.
Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.