Quarterback mentoring has been one of the NFL’s hot-button topics this offseason. The topic really picked up traction following Ryan Tannehill’s comments when asked about mentoring rookie Malik Willis. After taking some heat for his initial comments, Tannehill clarified that, while he wants to be a great teammate for Willis and everyone else on the Titans’ roster, his primary focus needs to be on being the best player he can be each and every day.
Aaron Rodgers can certainly sympathize with Tannehill. The Packers’ veteran QB spent his first three seasons in Green Bay backing up Brett Favre. He is currently teammates with Jordan Love, whose selection in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft was not initially embraced by Rodgers, who responded by putting together consecutive MVP seasons. He has also developed a solid working relationship with Love, which further qualifies him to answer the question of whether or not quarterbacks in his position should feel a responsibility to help younger quarterbacks.
“If they want it,” Rodgers said during a roundtable conversation with TNT’s Ernie Johnson. “If they want that help.”
Rodgers shared how he made himself better during his years behind Favre. By observing and helping Favre, Rodgers helped prepare himself for his later years as a starter.
“I was in his hip pocket all the time,” Rodgers said. “I was standing behind him in the huddle sometimes, listening to what he was saying before the start of a period. I was sitting in meetings with him, [taking] a ton of notes. I was watching hours of film on Mondays and Tuesdays trying to give him a little advantage for the week if I saw something that might help him in a game.
“I would print out this reports every week. It had all the DB’s we were playing and the catches that were against them and the little things I saw on film. I always joked that he just toss them in the bin on the way out. But for me it was the best thing to learn to prepare for a game.”
Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes agrees with Rodgers. Like Rodgers, Mahomes played behind an established veteran at the start of his career in Alex Smith. Mahomes sat behind Smith as a rookie before winning league MVP during his first season as a starter.
“I think it’s more on the young guy to learn from these guys than it is for them to be teaching us,” Mahomes said while gesturing to Rodgers and Tom Brady, who were also part of the roundtable.
Speaking of Brady, Mahomes shared a moment the two of them had at the end of the 2018 AFC Championship Game. In the midst of his team’s celebration following a dramatic overtime win in Kansas City, Brady, then the Patriots’ quarterback, made a point to find Mahomes while offering him his encouragement. While it was Brady — the older quarterback — who took the initiative, the gesture made all the difference to Mahomes.
“I think the biggest thing he said was is, ‘You’re doing it the right way. Just keep it up,'” Mahomes recalled. “That for me just showed that the hard work that I’ve been putting in, it was the right thing and I need to keep doing it [and] do more of it.”