So what’s the most important trait in an NFL quarterback? Answer: It depends whom you ask.
Jon Gruden once said it was passion. Hall-of-Famer Roger Staubach said it was toughness. Tom Brady? Leadership. Hall-of-Famer Brett Favre? Arm strength. And Aaron Rodgers?
Well, we had no idea. So we asked him when he appeared on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast.
“I think it’s a combination of mental toughness and confidence,” he said. “They kind of go hand-in-hand. But you have to be extremely mentally tough with all the adversity and the expectations and the many hats you have to wear as a leader. But going in, you have to be extremely confident in your abilities and show confidence in your teammates.
“The great players are able to raise the level of their teammates’ game, and a lot of it is based on showing them how much you believe in them. When guys believe in themselves, you can take your game to a different level … personally and when you’re showing your teammates that confidence.”
Rodgers has never lacked for confidence. When he slid to the 24th pick in the 2005 NFL draft, he promised to make teams that passed on him pay … and he has. He not only is the only quarterback with a regular-season career passer rating over 100 (104.1); he won a Super Bowl, has been a two-time league MVP and led the Packers to five division titles in the past six seasons.
But nowhere was that confidence more in demand than in 2008 when he took over for Favre, who was traded to the New York Jets. It was an impossible position to inherit, with Favre one of the game’s most beloved and charismatic quarterbacks. But Rodgers never faltered, throwing for over 4,000 years in his first season as a starter and leading Green Bay to a Super Bowl within three years.
“Confidence doesn’t just come from within,” he said, looking back to 2008. “I got a lot of confidence from my teammates. They saw me practice for three years. They saw me for three seasons, and they knew I had some ability. And they were great in letting me know they had my back, and they believed in me.
“As a leader … and as a young player, as well, in a leadership position … knowing that Charles Woodson and Al Harris and A.J. Hawk and Donald Driver and these guys believe you can get the job done, (it’s) a big help.
“I’ve never lacked confidence in my abilities, but that confidence can go to a different level when you have the veteran backing from a Mark Tauscher and a Chad Clifton and Scotty Wells (all offensive linemen), who are important guys in your world … those guys protecting you. They really believed in me and helped me to have even more confidence that I belonged in the league.
“Every young player has that moment where they have to face down that question: Do I belong here? Can I play here? And it really helps when you’ve got guys like that and veteran players who have your back and believe in you.”