NFL training camp has kicked off, which means another August filled with Packers optimism in the state of Wisconsin, and another NFL season with #12 under center.
Cerebral superstar Aaron Rodgers has spoiled this state for years with awe-inspiring throws, Houdini escapes and more than a few Hail Marys. His galloping fist pumps and discount double-checks have a playfulness to them that makes it seem like he’s tearing up his fifth grade classmates at recess with back-shoulder throws.
The media-savvy Rodgers has been, and hopefully always will be, a goldmine of witticisms. From clever quips to bold prognostications, he never disappoints. To prepare for what might be added to the annals of Rodgers-isms in 2017, let’s rewind and rank his top 5 most unforgettable quotes and media interactions.
5. The subtle jab at Russell Wilson
No one is ever safe from Aaron Rodgers. Immediately following a crushing Packers loss in January 2015, an emotional Russell Wilson was swift to credit God with the Seattle Seahawks’ miracle come-from-behind win. Now don’t get me wrong; as a diehard Badgers fan, I will never fail to appreciate Wilson’s masterful 2011 season in Madison. Yet as a pro, his act has become a little too much to handle, and Rodgers seemed to agree. The Packers celebrated their home opener that following September with a primetime victory against Seattle. Postgame, after listing the reasons why Green Bay came out victorious, Rodgers jokingly added with a sly smirk, “And God. I think God was a Packers fan tonight.” The Packers and Seahawks will face off in Week 1 this fall.
4. New York bozo
Green Bay fans couldn’t help but chuckle when field microphones picked up Rodgers blurting out “New York bozo” during a red zone possession in a 2015 divisional round playoff game against Dallas. The exclamation was a dummy audible call, Rodgers confirmed in his postgame presser, and not an effort to summon Phil Jackson or Donald J. Trump to Lambeau Field. When asked about what the call meant, Rodgers admitted that “our guys don’t know what that means either” and realized that the entire nation had heard his meaningless, hilarious audible. (And no, this audible is not the namesake of this website. In fact, if you’ve been pronouncing it “bozo,” you’re wrong.)
3. Grape Crush
After clinging to a 24-21 victory in Minnesota against the Vikings in 2014, Rodgers took an ostensibly smug sip of Grape Crush during his postgame press conference. He instantly refuted any claims that this was an attempt to nudge the Vikings, and maintained that Grape Crush was always a part of his postgame custom, no matter the opponent. Of course, to my knowledge, Rodgers had never before been seen with the soda during his press conferences, so perhaps it did have a deeper meaning. Only he knows the truth. Regardless, there is no love lost between Packers and Vikings fans, so the Twitter uproar aftermath came as no surprise.
This is the quote that helped make the Grape Crush dispute possible. A crestfallen Packers Nation was concerned with a struggling offense and a 1-2 start to the 2014 season when Rodgers assured everything will be OK in the end. It wasn’t merely the fact that he ended up being right, but the confidence with which he uttered those five letters made it seem as though he saw a fake-spike against Miami and back-to-back 50-point outings coming all along. As if fans didn’t already love him, “R-E-L-A-X” cemented a perception that Rodgers is a man of his word. As wins stacked on top of each other, it became a cultural phenomenon in the state, printed on t-shirts and endlessly hashtagged. Don’t be surprised if you find those five simple letters engraved on my tombstone.
1. Run the table
Rodgers’ most recent quote will go down as his most memorable. What elevates last year’s “run the table” over “R-E-L-A-X” was the sheer direness of the situation from which it was born. Two years prior, the eventual MVP’s proclamation to fans to take a deep breath was a perfect response to their premature panic, as only three games had passed. “Run the table,” on the other hand, appeared rather unwarranted at the time. The Packers had done nothing during their first 10 games to inspire confidence in winning out in the regular season. After being hosed by Tennessee in a game that was over in the first quarter and then losing to Washington to fall to 4-6, the quote personally fell on deaf ears because all my hope had withered away. But Rodgers’ swagger came back again, as Green Bay rode the “run the table” battle cry to once unthinkable reaches, falling only a game short of a Super Bowl appearance. I can’t wait to see what #12 has in store for us in 2017.