Aaron Rodgers' fame still on rise


He has gotten accustomed to the shouts of "Discount Double Check!" from strangers. But losing in the NFL playoffs is something Aaron Rodgers never will get comfortable with.

The Green Bay Packers quarterback still is smarting from the team's inability to successfully defend its Super Bowl XLV championship, as it lost to the New York Giants 37-20 in the divisional round of the playoffs, at Lambeau Field no less.

"It was so disappointing," Rodgers said. "So much of success in the playoffs is about being a hot team ... We were that team two years ago, and we ran into a similar team that happened to be playing its best football at the right time."

Rodgers is in Las Vegas to play in the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational golf tournament at Shadow Creek. On Saturday he teamed with actor Brian Baumgartner to post a par 72, six shots behind former major league pitcher John Smoltz and soccer star Brandi Chastain.

Rodgers' Packers have made a couple of offseason moves in an attempt to get back to the Super Bowl. One was signing veteran center Jeff Saturday, who spent most of his career snapping to another Super Bowl Most Valuable Player quarterback in Peyton Manning while they were in Indianapolis.

Rodgers hopes Saturday and the rest of the Packers' offensive line can keep him upright in the event any team tries to emulate the New Orleans Saints and place a bounty on him.

In the NFL's report on the Saints' bounty program, Rodgers was among four quarterbacks targeted for a knockout, along with Brett Favre, Kurt Warner and Cam Newton.

According to the report, a $5,000 bounty was placed on Rodgers by then-Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams before last year's season opener, which the Packers won, 42-34. Rodgers was sacked twice and hit five times.

Rodgers has not commented on the bounty story and declined questions on the subject Friday at Shadow Creek.

Despite the Packers' failure to repeat, Rodgers' popularity hasn't taken a hit. His appearance in a TV commercial for an insurance company a year ago has made him popular and well known beyond football.

In the commercial, a couple doesn't recognize him as the Packers' quarterback.

"When I first saw the script, I said, 'This isn't funny,' " Rodgers said. "But it turned out to be hilarious."

The commercial ends with a crazed Packers fan banging on a window and yelling at him, "Rodgers! Discount Double Check!" while imitating Rodgers' signature move of moving his hands around his waist as if to secure a championship belt.

"It's been great," he said. "I'm pretty much used to hearing 'Discount Double Check' wherever I go. It just shows the power of advertising and what it can do."

It also helps Rodgers with his philanthropic endeavors. He is active in several charities, notably Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer. The Milwaukee-based charity has raised more than $41 million since 1976.

Rodgers said he couldn't refuse when Jordan approached him about playing in his event, which raises millions for charities in Nevada and nationwide.

"When Michael asks you to do something, you don't say no to him," Rodgers said, smiling.

Last spring, Rodgers had plenty of extra time to raise money for charity and work on his golf during the NFL lockout. He is a single-digit handicap.

Rodgers said he is looking forward to getting back on the field shortly and putting January's devastating loss to the Giants behind him.

"In two weeks we'll get back to work, and everyone's excited," he said. "We know expectations are high in Green Bay, and that's good. We've got some new faces, and I'm only 28. I feel like my best football is still in front of me."

Today's final round begins at 9 a.m. at Shadow Creek. Admission is $30, with children 16 and under admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

 

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