Aaron Rodgers, with NFL single-season and career records in passer rating, is the league’s reigning MVP.
So, it’s only appropriate that he was voted the league’s best player by his peers for NFL Network’s “Top 100 Players of 2012.”
“It’s very humbling. It’s a great honor,” Rodgers told NFL Network in an interview following the announcement.
“Anytime you’re recognized with that professional respect from your peer, that really means a lot to me, so I’d like to thank them for the votes. Obviously, this is a recognition that doesn’t get done without an incredible group of people around you. That’s often lost when the focus is on one individual. My teammates, my coaches, our tens of thousands of owners that we have in Green Bay and across the country, I’ve got to give them a lot of thanks, as well.”
In a quarterback-driven league, 13 signal-callers made the network’s list of top players. The others: Drew Brees (second place), Tom Brady (fourth), Ben Roethlisberger (30th), Eli Manning (31st), Cam Newton (40th), Matthew Stafford (41st), Peyton Manning (50th), Philip Rivers (61st), Michael Vick (70th), Joe Flacco (74th), Tony Romo (91st) and Tim Tebow (95th).
“I’m very humbled by the distinction from my peers,” Rodgers said. “It means a lot to me, just to have that kind of respect from them. Personally, there are so many incredible players on that list. ... If you look at that list, all the way down to 100, it’s a great thing for the league. There just so many great players — great young players, great guys in the middle of their career and veterans playing at a high level, as well. I’m fortunate and blessed to have this recognition, but Tom (Brady) to me is still that high-water mark that I’ve been trying to get to. And the way that Drew (Brees) has played the last couple years, especially breaking the (single-season yardage) record last year, he’s playing incredible. Those are guys whose careers I’d like to model my own after.”
Rodgers had a remarkable season, finishing with 45 touchdowns and six interceptions as the Packers finished second in NFL history with 560 points. But in the playoffs, they lost to the Giants, who followed the same formula the Packers used in 2010 to win the Super Bowl: riding a hot quarterback and opportunistic defense to win on the road.
“It’s about winning championships,” Rodgers said. “It doesn’t matter, other than for seeding, how you do in the regular season. It’s about how you’re playing at the end of the season because championships are what you’re remembered for. We tasted that feeling in 2010-2011 and it was a special run. You get in that mode where you feel like that’s going to happen every year. You realize how special that time was and how badly it makes you want to get back to that feeling and that stage.
“Last year, I think we slipped a little bit. We got a little comfortable. This year, hopefully, people will talk about the Giants, the Saints, the 49ers, the Eagles making a comeback, some of those other teams, and we can kind of fly under the radar and be the same kind of team we were a couple years back.”
The Packers had six players on the list: Rodgers, Clay Matthews (27th), Charles Woodson (36th), Greg Jennings (56th), Jordy Nelson (80th) and John Kuhn (92nd).
For a video tribute to Rodgers from NFL.com, CLICK HERE. For the full list of players and more videos, CLICK HERE.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.