PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Less than a month after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is back playing golf and says the knee feels “great.”
Rodgers has spent the past week as a celebrity participant in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, playing with Wisconsin pro Jerry Kelly and enjoying the sights at Monterey Peninsula Country Club and the adulation of fans.
Rodgers said he had a “scope” performed on his knee soon after the Packers’ 26-20 overtime loss Jan. 16 at Arizona in the NFC divisional playoffs.
Asked if the knee was injured on any particular play during the Packers’ 10-6 regular season and two-game postseason run, Rodgers said, “No, it wasn’t a moment. It was for a clean-up of an old injury.”
Rodgers underwent reconstructive surgery in his left knee during his time at the University of California, but hasn’t missed any time in his professional career because of knee injuries.
Rodgers, 32, said the knee was holding up just fine after playing his first full 18 holes of golf since July during Thursday’s first round.
“It was just good to be out there walking normally,” Rodgers said. “It feels great. It’s nice to not have any clunking around or anything, so it was good.”
Rodgers’ week in California began at Super Bowl 50 last weekend in Santa Clara. Rodgers was introduced before the game at Levi’s Stadium along with the other Super Bowl MVPs, and also picked up Bridgestone Performance Play of the Year honors for his 61-yard Hail Mary pass to tight end Richard Rodgers with no time remaining that beat the Detroit Lions 27-23 on Dec. 3.
Rodgers said Super Bowl 50, in which Denver beat Carolina 24-10, was “a good game,” adding that the Broncos have “a great defense. I thought both defenses played pretty well, but Denver’s defense scored.”
Rodgers said he’s been having fun at Pebble Beach. One highlight came Wednesday during the inaugural Million Dollar Hole-in-One for Charity presented by Facebook. Rodgers and 31 other top-shelf celebrities -- including Clint Eastwood, Wayne Gretzky, Bill Murray and Justin Timberlake -- had two shots on Pebble Beach’s iconic 100-yard, par-3 seventh hole for a chance to make the top-three final round and earn a shot at winning $1 million for a hole-in-one.
After his first shot failed to get him into the top three, Rodgers was unintentionally “iced” by CBS Sports broadcaster Jim Nantz. As Rodgers prepared for his second shot, Nantz regaled the crowd with a description of the Hail Mary play, calling it one of the all-time greatest sports moments he ever has called. Then he told Rodgers to go for golf’s version of a Hail Mary and make a hole-in-one.
As you might expect after such a build-up, Rodgers flubbed his next shot, hitting it about 30 yards.
“He froze me out. I was nervous as it is and I’m 23rd to hit out of 32 (players),” Rodgers said. “But it was fun. Being inside the ropes with Bill Murray telling jokes, that’s what makes this tournament special.”
A few young Packers fans got a thrill when Rodgers stopped on the eighth fairway and posed for a photo. Among them was Noah Hrubesky, 11, whose family originally was from Green Bay. He shares the same birthday (Dec. 2) with Rodgers and said it was his "life's goal" to be able to tell that to the Packers quarterback.
“Those are the fun moments,” Rodgers said. “I remember being a kid, I would have been really nervous trying to talk to (Joe) Montana or Jerry Rice, so it’s fun to interact with them.”
Rodgers’ jovial interactions also extended to his celebrity playing partner, actor Chris O’Donnell. The two didn’t shy away from some good-natured ribbing.
“Well Aaron, unfortunately, he’s a great guy,” O’Donnell said. “And as a Bears fan, it irritates me.”
Follow Garrett Johnston on Twitter @JohnstonGarrett