Former Super Bowl MVP and current Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers spent Friday in Lawrence, the precursor to today’s main event — No. 15 Kansas vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State at 3 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse.
“This is kind of on the bucket list,” Rodgers said in an interview with the Journal-World after watching practice and shooting around in the old gym. “It just doesn’t usually work with my schedule to be able to get back here for a game.”
Rodgers, a nine-year pro who played two years of college ball at Cal, long has had a trip to KU’s historic hoops arena near the top of his to-do list, and a friend made this weekend’s trip possible. The credit for his interest in KU basketball belongs to one of the Packers’ trainers, who went to KU, but his appreciation for KU’s history and tradition go back to his days as a young sports fan.
“I’ve been able to go to (Boston’s) Fenway Park in baseball, I play at probably the most famous stadium (Lambeau Field) in the (NFL), and I thought it’d be fun to go to an arena like this that has so much history, a great coach and great support,” Rodgers said.
Asked for the most obscure bit of KU basketball knowledge he owns, Rodgers pointed to his love for his Bay-Area brother and former Jayhawk.
“I’m a big Drew Gooden fan,” Rodgers said, his face lighting up. “And it’s fun to look up in the rafters and see a bunch of the names I remember from when I was a kid. It’s fun to be at a place that has so much history.”
Rodgers spent the day dining downtown and then watched KU’s final practice in preparation for today’s Big 12 showdown with the Cowboys. After practice, he met the players and coaches and posed for pictures with the Jayhawks.
Rodgers said he was in Detroit in 2008, when KU knocked off Villanova and Davidson en route to the national championship.
“Those were some of the best games I’ve ever seen,” he said.
As for whether Rodgers, an all-pro quarterback who is regarded as one of the best in the game today, has any basketball skills, the Chico, Calif., native was honest in his self-assessment.
“I played a little,” he said, grinning. “But the height of my game was in eighth grade. I realized early on that I didn’t have a big future in basketball.”