Football fans, meet Jordan Rodgers
Aaron’s younger brother is hot on his heels
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers may be the most famous athlete to come out of Chico, but his brother Jordan could soon be joining him in Fame City.
Jordan Rodgers left Butte College in December 2009 to pursue a quarterback position with Division I Vanderbilt University. The 21-year-old is determined to climb the ranks in hopes that he may someday join his brother in the NFL.
Like his brother before him, Rodgers attended Pleasant Valley High prior to quarterbacking for Butte College. In 2008, he led the community college’s football team to a perfect 12-0 season and helped the school acquire its first state and national titles—all as a freshman. Butte College’s head coach, Jeff Jordan, believes Rodgers has what it takes to realize his dreams of grandeur. And he would know—he also coached Aaron back in 2002.
“While Aaron possesses ridiculous arm strength, Jordan has an unmatched ability to scramble and make plays,” he said. “I think Jordan will have success at a Division I school. He has the physical and mental attributes needed to perform at any level.”
Rodgers was talking with many Big East schools, but a December recruiting trip to Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn., sealed the deal for the young quarterback. It was a combination of Southern hospitality, tasty fried food, and soulful music that resonated with Rodgers. To sweeten the pot, Rodgers and family will not be responsible for tuition, housing or food costs. Instead, Vanderbilt is banking on the young quarterback’s blossoming into a team leader and national champion.
Until a few days ago, Rodgers had been competing for the starting quarterback position. He didn’t make the cut, but based on his attitude in a recent phone interview, he won’t be sweating it. “Earning the starting position would be great, but red-shirting for a year would allow me extra time to mature and learn the team’s offense.”
Rodgers is pleased with his choice of schools and is enjoying his new teammates.
“There’s a great vibe in the South—plenty of live music and good people,” he says. “I recently discovered my love of fried pickles and fried green tomatoes.”
In his free time, Rodgers struggles to learn guitar and sings in the shower. He laments not yet having found a Southern belle, explaining, “I’m still waiting for Taylor Swift to show up at a game … maybe next fall?”
Rodgers describes his new coach, Bobby Johnson, as old-school, a man who knows how to handle a team. Rodgers is also working closely with Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, another product of Vanderbilt. This is in addition to receiving weekly advice from another starting NFL quarterback, his brother Aaron, who has already visited his younger bro twice in Nashville.
Rodgers describes his brother as both a good influence and a terrific role model.
“Aaron has always been there for me as a brother, and I strive to follow in his footsteps,” he says, adding that he believes that having a superstar for an older brother has been a blessing. “Aaron is a great example of what hard work will get you.”
The younger Rodgers has some big shoes to fill, and his moving on to Vanderbilt and possibly the pros could put Chico on the map. But he denies having to live up to any expectations.
“People sometimes think I’m trying to become the same quarterback that my brother is. … It’s not like that,” he says. “We both have strengths and weaknesses. I would love to follow in his footsteps and play in the NFL—it will just be done on my own terms.”
If you ask Jordan who has the better arm, he’ll admit Aaron does. “He has one of the best arms in the NFL,” he says. “I joke around that I’m a bit faster than he is, though. I think a foot race is in the future.”
In fact, the brothers compete in various events during homecoming reunions (following a quick realignment by their father, Ed, who once played football at Chico State and is now a chiropractor in town). After a heated video-game competition a wrestling match typically ensues. “I hold my own against him,” Rodgers said of his older brother.
Ed Rodgers recognizes his wife, Darla, for having helped raise three sons.
“All the accolades are icing on the cake,” he says. “In time, nobody will remember all the wins and losses. It’s character that is lasting. My boys are humble, and that’s what makes us the most proud.”
Rodgers has adjusted well to new teammates and head coach Johnson’s offensive tactics, but he also realizes executing plays at game-time speed will be a challenge.
“My main goal is catching up mentally and then to become consistent,” he explains. “We need to improve our passing game—this will allow our three talented running backs to have better success on the ground.”
Rodgers is fully aware that Peyton and Eli Manning have written themselves into sports history by simultaneously playing as starting NFL quarterbacks. When asked if the Rodgers brothers are going to be the next Manning brothers, he answers enthusiastically, “That’s what I’m working toward. I just have to hold up my end of the bargain.”