Richard Rodgers excited for matchup with father

Weston Hodkiewicz
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The film sessions started when Richard Rodgers was only 6 or 7 years old.

Packers tight end Richard Rodgers looks to make a catch against the Jets.

Like any football meeting room, Rodgers and his brother sat quietly while their father, Richard Sr., outlined what they were watching, nodding their approval. Some kids might have been squirming in their seats, but Richard always was locked in.

He liked football. He liked that his dad coached football even if that Rodgers couldn't get cozy in one place. Each move meant another school, but football often was the catalyst to forging new friendships.

This Sunday, father and son will be on the field together for the first time as adversaries. Richard Sr., the special-teams coach of the Carolina Panthers, versus Richard Jr., the Green Bay Packers' rookie tight end.

They talk regularly. This Sunday's game doesn't change that, but it presents an interesting dilemma for the family.

"I'm not sure," said Richard Jr. when asked who the family will be rooting for. "Honestly, I would think they'd be rooting for me just because I'm playing but you never know."

Rodgers was born in 1992 when his dad was coaching in Diablo Valley Community College. From there Richard Sr. had stints at San Jose State (1995-96), Portland State (1997-2000), New Mexico State (2001-04) and Holy Cross (2005-11) before arriving in Carolina.

It was during the family's time in Oregon the film work started for Richard Jr. On game days, he'd go down to the field with his dad, maybe throw a football or two.

Outside of the few occasions he helped carry cables on the sideline, Richard Jr. usually had to return to his seat when the game began. Once he got to college, Richard Jr. estimates his dad was able to attend two or three of his games at California because of his coaching commitments.

The same situation played out during May's draft. While Rodgers was drafted by the Packers in the third round, dad was working in the Panthers' draft room.

"What's funny is when Green Bay picked him, Richard just happened to step out of the draft room and had no idea," Panthers coach Ron Rivera told Carolina reporters Thursday. "So we were trying to get him back in so he could see the announcement on TV. He came in just as he announced the name, so it was kind of neat to see that."

Of course, a little trash talk has been dished out this week. Richard Jr. joked he might give his dad the ball if he has a big catch or scores a touchdown.

All kidding aside, the two plan to play a little catch on Lambeau Field before Sunday's game. It's a moment Richard Jr. plans to relish.

"We both know that we're playing each other," Richard Jr. said. "I think he's just excited to get to me watch me play in person. He hasn't seen me play in person yet. I think it'll be fun and he's excited to watch me." and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.

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