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Aaron Rodgers wants to follow in Tom Brady’s footsteps

By Arnie Stapleton

AP Pro Football Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers wants to take the same path as Tom Brady, still flinging footballs and chasing championships at age 40.

He knows he might have to leave Green Bay to do that.

The 34-year-old acknowledged Thursday in an interview with The Associated Press that he may have to play for another team like Brett Favre did at the end of his Hall-of-Fame career.

Rodgers said he doesn’t think Favre ever fathomed leaving Green Bay before the Packers dealt him in 2008 to the Jets to make room for Rodgers. Favre finished his career in Minnesota.

“I think you have to be humble enough to realize if it could happen to Brett, it can happen to you,” Rodgers said.

Rodgers also said in an interview with ESPN Radio on Thursday that he was caught off-guard when the Packers chose not to retain his position coach, Alex Van Pelt, last month.

The notion that Rodgers, who has two years left on his contract, could also leave Green Bay before retirement like Favre did is sure to send shivers through Wisconsin.

Sort of like Anthony Barr did when he drove the two-time MVP into the turf in October, fracturing Rodgers’ right collarbone and ultimately extinguishing the Packers’ eight-year playoff run.

Rodgers said the injury was actually harder on his psyche than his shoulder.

“The physical pain was significant. Having a displaced fracture, it’s not easy, especially being a side sleeper. I had to sleep on my back for months. It’s tough. Any side sleeper can appreciate that,” Rodgers said. “But mentally, it’s tougher, just kind of being there every day to be the kind of leader I want to be.”

Rodgers said he’ll be ready to resume that role when the Packers begin their offseason program.

“Yeah, it’s going really good. I feel great,” he said. “Obviously, I came back to play, got banged up a little bit. But I’m doing everything I want to do, which at this time of the year is really working out and playing golf.”

And being Aaron Rodgers, celebrity QB.

He spoke to The AP on Thursday while sitting in the green room at “The Dan Patrick Show.” He’ll host a VIP party for members of Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guests loyalty programs Friday night. Then, he’ll attend the NFL Honors on Saturday night and catch a red-eye so he can shoot a commercial Sunday “that hopefully gets done in time for me to watch the game.”

He’s also keeping watch on the quarterback commotion shaking up the league with Alex Smith headed to Washington and Kirk Cousins headed for who knows how many millions along with Drew Brees and Jimmy Garoppolo .

Rodgers said he was especially intrigued by the Chiefs’ decision to trade away Smith, who was coming off the best season of his 13-year career.

“There’s always some things happening that make you scratch your head a little bit, that are surprising. Alex, for whatever reason, I think he has for most of his career been a very under-rated player,” Rodgers said.

Maybe that’s because the two been constantly compared to each other ever since the 49ers chose Smith over Rodgers with the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft and Rodgers slid all the way to No. 24 before Green Bay grabbed him.

“He gets this rap that’s unfortunately kind of a bad rap as a ‘game manager,’” Rodgers said. “He led the league in passer rating. He takes care of the football. He had another great year. He’s a phenomenal player. He’s a great leader. We’re the same age, same draft class. He still runs around all over the place, runs for a ton of yards every year.”

“What they were doing on offense was because of his flexibility and ability to run the option or do read-option stuff,” Rodgers added, “I think Washington is getting a phenomenal player, a great leader. Now you’ve got Kirk Cousins, what’s going to happen with him? You’ve got probably five guys that are going to get drafted in the first round, Jimmy Garoppolo and his situation. There’s a lot of moving pieces.”

Then, there’s Brady, the mainstay who’s seeking his sixth Super Bowl championship Sunday when Patriots play the Eagles.

“It’s ridiculous. We’ve been to one. This is his eighth in 17 years,” marveled Rodgers. “It’s kind of standard operating procedure around there.”

Rodgers can envision himself putting off retirement as long as possible just like Brady.

“Oh, I’d like to definitely be 40 and be an NFL starter,” Rodgers said, “and then hopefully get a few more after that if I’m still healthy, and more importantly, as passionate about it as I am today.”

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For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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