ORLANDO, Fla. -- Aaron Rodgers' smile never faded Monday afternoon as he rode on the back of a convertible pacing down a confetti-filled parade route through Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
The Super Bowl XLV MVP was operating on just a few hours' sleep following the Green Bay Packers' 31-25 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. But even with a Florida afternoon storm threatening in the distance, it was clear nothing could cloud the quarterback's spirit.
|Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (right) admitted he didn't sleep much after Sunday night's Super Bowl XLV victory. Hours later, he was sitting next to Mickey Mouse in a Disney World parade. (Scott Miller/Associated Press)|
"It's a special day, it really is," Rodgers said afterward. "I didn't get a lot of sleep (Sunday) night, but it's great to be able to celebrate. This is a team that came together and accomplished something special."
Rodgers became the latest Super Bowl MVP to participate in Disney's "I'm going to Disney World" commercial series, which celebrated its 25th anniversary Sunday night. Former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms was the first to do it in 1987 following Super Bowl XXI. Rodgers flew to Orlando from Texas on Monday.
A California native, Rodgers said he had been to Disneyland in Anaheim, but never to Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Thousands of fans lined Main Street in the theme park Monday, many of them decked out in Packers jerseys, T-shirts and cheesehead hats.
Rodgers posed for photos with the Disney characters and even took a bite of a specially made block of cheese in the shape of the Packers' team emblem.
Rodgers said that even with the victory, he doesn't expect the comparisons to former Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre to end. Favre led the Packers to their previous Super Bowl win in 1997, but unlike Rodgers, he wasn't named the game's MVP.
"I don't think they ever stop because I'm the guy that followed him," Rodgers said. "But I hope. You know, we're doing something special in Green Bay right now, and I hope people can recognize that. I'm proud of the way our team came together this season.
"Thankfully I have two parents that raised me the right way and pushed me to be the best at whatever I did. And I wanted to be a football player. So, right now I'm at the top of my game."
Longtime Packers fan Mike Gottlieb, a 52-year-old Milwaukee native who now lives in Orlando, was at Disney World to see Rodgers. Gottlieb said he believes the ghost of Favre no longer hangs over Rodgers.
"I don't know if there was a monkey on his back, because the Packers did what they said they were going to do," said Gottlieb, one of the founders of the Central Florida Packer Backers in 1987. "They said they were going to stand by him, no matter what happened to Brett, and they did. And I think (Rodgers) appreciates it, too. ... I think he'll be with the Packers forever, and he could have another three or four (titles) in him."
Rodgers' performance Sunday night, which included 304 passing yards and three touchdown tosses, had some NFL analysts ranking it as one of the best performances by a first-time Super Bowl quarterback.
While he appreciates the compliment, Rodgers said was still thinking about his underwhelming effort in Green Bay's 21-14 NFC Championship Game win over Chicago. He threw two interceptions and no touchdowns against the NFC North rival Bears, though he reached the end zone on a 1-yard run.
"I'm a perfectionist," Rodgers said. "If I played a little better, I think I'd be a little more satisfied with my postseason, but I prepared to play well (Sunday) and I was able to meet those expectations."
Rodgers will rejoin his teammates for a celebration at Green Bay's Lambeau Field on Tuesday. But he said it's the moments with them Sunday night after the game that continue to play in his mind.
"Just in the locker room after the game and being able to reflect with my teammates," he said. "Big hugs. It's a special group of men. I think you realize at that point the season is over and that group of men is never going to be together again. It's just special to be able to share with those guys because we went through a lot together this year."
After he was finished at Disney World, Rodgers flew to New York and appeared on CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman," where he chatted with the host about his days at junior college and tossed the comedian a pass.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press