Aaron Rodgers finds himself in a situation that could be considered similar to how he began his NFL career.
He understands the comparisons between his selection as the heir apparent to Brett Favre, and the Packers' selection of Utah State quarterback Jordan Love as his possible successor. He also sees some key differences.
"Based on the age in which I was and Brett was to when I was drafted and then comparatively to me and Jordan, there are similarities to that," Rodgers said during a conference call with reporters Friday. "I think there's a lot of things that aren't similar though when you look at the two situations as far as Brett's mindset during the '03, '04 seasons and obviously my statement about a real desire, a strong desire to play into my 40s and the way I feel about the game and my body and my love of the sport. But I do see some similarities and I understand why they're drawn in that effect."
Rodgers wants to play beyond 40. Ideally, that would come with the Packers. After the selection of Love, he left the door open for him to finish his career elsewhere, if his retirement doesn't line up with the Packers' timeline for Love.
Rodgers knows this reality because he once saw Favre do exactly that when the Packers decided it was time for Rodgers to take over. That might stir up some animosity between Rodgers and the new kid, much like it did between Favre and Rodgers, even if a younger Rodgers didn't necessarily want Favre to dislike him.
"I learned a lot over those years working with Brett, things that I can bring the relationship with Jordan and just bring the mindset I went through as a young 21-, 22-, 23-year-old, playing with my idol as a teammate. I'll definitely take those lessons with me. Like I said before, I've always had great relationships with my backups and always loved helping those guys out in any way. The more questions they have, the more answers I have. I've truly embraced those relationships, and it'll be the same with Jordan."
The quarterback learned from his experience with Favre, and even if he might have wanted a player who could help him win now, he's not going to hold it against Love. After all, he's just a kid trying to make it as a quarterback in the NFL, just as Rodgers was 15 years ago.
"He didn't get asked to be drafted by the Packers," Rodgers said of Love. "There's nothing... He's not to blame at all. He's just coming in excited about his opportunity. We had a great conversation the day after the draft. I'm excited to work with him. He seems like a really good kid with a good head on his shoulders and a similar story."
So there won't be any pettiness on the part of Rodgers, at least not immediately. But there will come a time when Rodgers is mere months from 40, and Love will be nearing that same window of time in which Rodgers once took over the Packers. Decisions will have to be made, and Rodgers will have had ample time to prepare for something he first realized might be possible at the end of the first round of the 2020 draft.
"It was more the surprise of the pick based on my own feelings of wanting to play into my 40s and really the realization that it does change the controllables a little bit because as much as I feel confident in my abilities and what I can accomplish and what we can accomplish, there are some new factors that are out of my control," Rodgers explained. "So my sincere desire to start and finish with the same organization, just as it has with many other players over the years, may not be a reality at this point and as much as I understand the organization's future outlook and wanting to make sure they're thinking about the team now and down the line, and I respect that, at the same time I still believe in myself and I've shown that I can play into my 40s. I'm just not sure how that all works together at this point."
The vague response is the right answer right now for Rodgers, who won't want to rock the boat and will say all of the right things about helping his new teammate prepare to eventually push him out the door. There's no dancing around that fact; that's the plan in Green Bay, and from an organizational standpoint, it undoubtedly makes sense.
It's just a cold business, and Rodgers realized even the best careers might not end on the player's terms. He doesn't have to deal with it now, though -- now is reserved for making every effort possible to win with his 2020 team.