Most of the time, Jordan Rodgers likes to see the Chicago Bears do well.
This isn’t one of those times.
Rodgers, the younger brother of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, won’t be wrestling with who to root for when the Packers play the Bears in the NFC Championship game on Sunday.
Jordan, a junior quarterback at Vanderbilt who transferred from Butte College (Ca.) last year, is well aware that four former Commodores currently grace the Bears roster.
Still, this one is a no-brainer.
“I like to pull for those guys as much as I can,” Jordan, who planned to drive to the game in Chicago, said. “But this week is all about my brother so I’ll be pulling for the Packers.”
In one of those “it’s a small world” instances, Jordan and Vanderbilt are extremely connected to this weekend’s game.
Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler, of course, went to Vanderbilt and was drafted in the first round in 2006 by the Denver Broncos, who then traded him to the Bears prior to the 2009 season. In addition, former Commodores Earl Bennett (wide receiver), D.J. Moore (defensive back) and Chris Williams (left guard) also start for Chicago. Plus, new Vanderbilt football coach James Franklin served as wide receivers coach for the Packers during Aaron Rodgers’ rookie season in 2005.
For Jordan, what makes this weekend a little more odd is that over the last year he has developed a friendship with Cutler. When Jordan arrived in Nashville in last January, he hadn’t met many of his Vanderbilt teammates. But Cutler was in town training at the university and he decided to take the younger Rodgers under his wing.
“The first weekend, Jay and our [former] strength coach, Coach [John] Sisk took me out and watched my brother’s playoff game. So I kind of got to know Jay,” Jordan said. “Then he was always around training. Him knowing my brother, being friends with my brother, we hung out a little bit, trained a little bit. He just kind of gave me some of his input about how to go about being a quarterback in this league. A little bit of how to study, a little bit about the offense and about the coaching staff we had. So he was real good just giving me some words of advice.”
The support Cutler has given Jordan hasn’t gone unnoticed either.
“[Jay's] a guy who's been great to my little brother,” Aaron Rodgers told ChicagoBears.com in September. “As a big brother, it's much appreciated the way he's made my little brother feel comfortable down there and get the lay of the land down there in Nashville. It has only helped to strengthen our friendship. I pull for him 14 weeks out of the season, and hopefully he throws us a couple [interceptions] in those other two weeks.”
When Jordan hasn’t been watching his brother play — he made the short trek to Atlanta last weekend to witness the Packers’ 48-21 victory — he has been rehabbing his right shoulder. Nine weeks removed from surgery for a torn labrum, which caused him to redshirt this past season, Jordan said the arm is feeling much better and he is three weeks away from starting to throw again.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder is expected to compete with two-year starter Larry Smith for the starting quarterback job.
With a new coaching regime, though, Jordan is excited about the chance to run a pro-style offense that, he says, mirrors the one his brother is in. He said it will allow him to play under center, which he prefers, and — if he possesses some of the same abilities as his brother — could be very beneficial to his success.
Still, Jordan cautioned against making comparisons.
“[Aaron] has a huge arm. I think I don’t have as a big of an arm as him. I think my arm is good enough. I think I bring some separate things to the table,” Jordan, who said he watches his brother’s game film for tips, said. “But he is a complete player. So if I am going to be like him, I shouldn’t be here. If I can play like him right now I shouldn’t be at Vanderbilt. So I aspire to be just as good as him and I look up to him, everything he does. I am going to study his game and learn things.
“But we are going to be different players, we really are. You are going to see a different product on the field and hopefully it is going to be successful. But I’m going to learn from it and try to mimic as much as I can from his game.”
Right now, it appears Aaron Rodgers is on the top of his game. In his third full season, his patience is paying off. After being drafted in the first round in 2005, Aaron waited his turn for three years while the Brett Favre soap opera played out.
If there were any concerns that Aaron wouldn’t be able guide the Packers like Favre did, those have been squashed, especially after the last two weeks. He got his first playoff win on the road against Philadelphia and then completed 31-of-36 passes for 336 yards and three touchdowns — he ran for another score — as the Packers blew out the Falcons on their home turf. Jordan admitted that some of the moves his brother put on wowed him.
“Some of the plays he was making were really unbelievable,” Jordan said. “The things he is able to do with his mobility and still hit his receivers. He was hot.”
It has been a wild ride for Jordan to watch. He was there on an agonizing draft day back in 2005 when Aaron slipped from a possible top-five pick all the way to the 24th selection. Now, he is watching his brother get a shot at reaching every aspiring football player’s dream: the Super Bowl.
“It is surreal. It really is,” Jordan said. “I have always known what my brother is capable of so it is not a huge surprise that he is having success but the success he is having is unbelievable. He is playing at the top of his game. He is playing the best out of anybody so if he continues that he is going to do some special things. Just the opportunity he has is huge and I know he is really excited about it.
“He just wanted to get the chance to prove he could play. It took a little longer than he probably thought it would happen. But he is getting a chance now and I think he is taking full advantage of it. But he is still staying really humble in everything he does, which I think is a great example to me and other football players.”