STATELINE, Nev. -- With a breathtaking backdrop of mostly pine-tree-covered mountains and the crystal-clear waters of Lake Tahoe, this is a perfect place to escape whatever annoyances, big or small, that life might dish out.
There doesn't seem to be anywhere he can go to get away from nagging questions about Brett Favre. The American Century Championship Golf Tournament -- whose field includes Rodgers and several other current and former NFL players (as well as a couple of coaches) -- is no exception.
Standing at a podium to announce a $100,000 donation to the club in conjunction with the team, McCarthy was asked by 11-year-old Miranda Black of nearby Oconto Falls the biggest question in the state these days: "Um, is Brett Favre coming back?" More
Favre actually was supposed to play in the tournament as well, but he pulled out. You wouldn't know that, however, because his presence can be very much felt in this sun-splashed resort area that borders Nevada and California. Just ask Rodgers, who, at least for the time being, is supposed to be Favre's replacement as starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. Since arriving here, he has been bombarded with questions about reports that Favre, who announced he was retiring, plans to send a letter within the next week or so seeking to be placed on the Packers' active roster.
Rodgers' standard response, which he gave here Wednesday, is that he won't "speculate about any rumors that are out there." He would prefer to enjoy himself at the tournament, enjoy what remains of his offseason before returning to Green Bay and the rigors of training camp.
But the media reports concerning Favre have made that nearly impossible. The only time Rodgers would even mention Favre's name was when I asked him if he had spoken with him recently. His answer was, to say the least, awkward.
"Me and Brett got along real well in Green Bay, became good friends," Rodgers said. "But I have not talked to him recently about his future plans."
Rodgers has spoken plenty with Trent Dilfer, an NFL quarterback for the past 15 seasons and a mentor to Rodgers. Dilfer, who pulled out of the golf tournament after suffering an Achilles' injury while playing basketball, said that in the past three years in Green Bay Rodgers has appreciated having an up-close view of Favre's spectacular career.
"But at the same time, Aaron was very energized by Brett's retirement, was excited to kind of take the reins," Dilfer said. "From everything I've heard in Green Bay, he's done a fabulous job this offseason of doing that and … being himself but yet leading and embracing the role very adamantly after Brett left.
"So I think it would be frustrating for him (if Favre returned to Green Bay). I think he will be disappointed. Obviously, Brett holds all the cards here. But at the same time, like anything, you deal with it."
When he hasn't been participating in workouts in Green Bay, Rodgers has spent the bulk of his offseason in his native California. Before getting in a little vacation time with his family, he worked out in San Diego with incumbent Packers receiver James Jones and with rookie receiver Brett Swain, a seventh-round draft pick from San Diego State.
As usual, Rodgers plans to report to training camp a week early so that he can get himself re-acclimated to the Central time zone. And regardless of all of the Favre talk, he's looking forward to the prospect of doing his part to help the Packers, who fell one step shy of Super Bowl XLII, go the distance this season.
"I'm extremely excited," Rodgers said. "We've got a great, young team coming back. We have a lot of talent at a lot of different positions. And it's been a great offseason. We've had nearly 100-percent attendance for most of the offseason (workouts). (We have) a lot of guys working hard and a lot of guys excited about the direction we're going.
"It's exciting being a part of that."
He has concentrated on improving the mental aspect of his game. Mike McCarthy and the rest of the Packers' coaching staff have made that a priority for Rodgers and the rest of their quarterbacks (with one prominent exception, of course).
"Our quarterback school that we run through in the offseason is a big mental challenge for us as we go through the entire offense," Rodgers said. "We diagnose defense as we watch a lot of hours of film each day. And that's been the most important thing for me -- totally understanding our scheme and what we're trying to do and trying to figure out what the other side of the ball is doing as well."
Although he might not say as much publicly, Rodgers also is likely trying to figure out what Favre is doing … and how that could impact his future with the Packers.
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