Long journey brings Aaron Rodgers on top of the game

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers earned 62 more points than Justin Verlander in the Male Athlete of the Year voting.



GREEN BAY, Wis. — When Aaron Rodgers needs to rekindle the feelings that drove his rise from a junior college quarterback to Super Bowl MVP, he doesn’t have to look too far.

Rodgers held on to the many rejection letters he received from marquee college programs as he was coming out of high school. Even today, he leaves a few of them sitting out at his house.

“I chose the couple that I thought were most demeaning to display in a space in my house that really nobody is able to see but myself,” Rodgers said. “It’s something that I think is important to keep fresh on your mind. Maybe not every day, but once a week your eyes might pan across it and you have a little laugh about the journey you’ve been on – at the same time, remembering that there still are people out there that you can prove something to.”

Good luck finding those doubters now.

Rodgers is the 2011 Male Athlete of the Year, chosen by members of The Associated Press, after he turned in an MVP performance in the Green Bay Packers’ Super Bowl victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers and then went on to lead his team on a long unbeaten run this season.

Rodgers is one of three QBs to receive the honor in the past five years. The Saints’ Drew Brees won in 2010 and the Patriots’ Tom Brady won in 2007.

It has been a long and challenging journey out of obscurity for Rod­gers. If his path to stardom had been smoother, he says he wouldn’t be the player – or person – he is today.

“It’s something that gives me perspective all the time, knowing that the road I took was difficult. But it did shape my character and it shaped my game as well,” he said. “I try and keep that on my mind as a good perspective, but also as a motivator, knowing that it took a lot to get to where I am now and it’s going to take a lot to stay where I’m at.”


A look at the top five vote getters for The Associated Press’ Male Athlete of the Year.

Aaron Rodgers 112

Justin Verlander 50

Novak Djokovic 21

Cam Newton 6

Tony Stewart 5


Aaron Rodgers led all players in fan balloting for the Pro Bowl. The Green Bay quarterback received 1,581,982 votes, the NFL announced Wednesday.

New England quarterback Tom Brady led AFC players in fan balloting, finishing second overall with 1,454,311 votes.

The Pro Bowl teams will be announced Dec. 27 after players and coaches vote this week.

Each group’s vote totals count one-third toward the AFC and NFC teams.

In all, over 100 million fans voted, setting a record in balloting, the league announced.

– Associated Press