That was Aaron Rodgers initial reaction when the Green Bay Packers traded up to take quarterback Jordan Love in the first round of April’s NFL Draft.
Speaking for the first time since general manager Brian Gutekunst made that move, the future Hall of Fame quarterback explained his feelings that night.
“The general reaction at first was surprise, like many people,” Rodgers said Friday on a conference call with reporters. “I’m not going to say I was thrilled by the pick necessarily but I understand. The organization is thinking about not only the present but about the future, and I respect that. I understand their focus and their mindset.
“Obviously, they thought that he was such a great talent that they needed to go up and get him. Like I said, generally surprised. It’s what those guys are paid to do — to put together a roster for now and for the future as well.”
Rodgers admitted there were similarities between the Packers decision to pick Love this year and the team’s decision to pick him in the first round in 2005, including he’s about the same age as Brett Favre was at that time. But he also pointed out the fact that, unlike Favre, he has indicated he wants to play out the remainder of his contract (signed through 2023) and continue to play into his 40s, while his predecessor was always talking about retirement. With the pick of Love, it becomes harder for Rodgers to do that in Green Bay.
“That’s something that is very important to me, but I think it’s definitely telling at this point that is truly something that is out of my control,” Rodgers said. “What I can control is how I play and making that decision at some point a very hard one. If I were to retire in the organization’s timetable, then it’s an easy decision. But if there comes a time where I still feel like I can play at a high level and my body feels great, then there are other guys that have gone on and played elsewhere.”
What Rodgers promises to do is not treat Love like Favre treated him early on his career. Rodgers ran down a list of his former backups, and said he remains friends with a majority of them and doesn’t expect it to be any different with Love.
“He didn’t ask to get drafted by the Packers. He’s not to blame at all. He’s just coming in, excited about his opportunity,” Rodgers said. “We had a great conversation a day after the draft, and I’m excited to work with him.”
Rodgers mentioned the old adage of control what you can control multiple times during the 30 minute press conference. He knows even if he plays at a high level, even that may not be enough for him to go out on his own terms with the only franchise he’s ever known.
“It was more the surprise of the pick based on my own feelings of wanting to play into my 40s. And then the realization it does change (what I can control) a little bit, because as much as I feel confident in my abilities and what I can accomplish and what we can accomplish, there are some new factors that are out of my control,” Rodgers said. “My sincere desire to start and finish with the same organization, just as it has for many other players over the years, may not be a reality at this point. As much as I understand the organization’s future outlook, and wanting to make sure they are thinking about the team now and down the line, and I respect that, at the same time, I still believe in myself and have a strong desire to play into my 40s. I’m just not sure how that all works together at this point.”