A new era is officially underway in Green Bay.
Aaron Rodgers is gone to New York, appearing at Knicks games at Madison Square Garden as the latest celebrity to arrive in the Big Apple. In his wake remains Jordan Love, the Packers' chosen replacement for Rodgers who can officially assume said role.
Love took to the podium Wednesday to speak with reporters as Green Bay's newly minted QB1. He admitted his time spent behind Rodgers wasn't always the easiest.
"When I got drafted here I knew right away exactly what situation I was being put in, who I was being behind," Love explained. "So I knew it was going to come with time that I was going to come in and learn and grow. But I'll admit, I think the hardest time was when he re-signed the contract last year. It was kind of like, 'OK, well, where do we go from here? What do I do?' I sat back, thought to myself and came back with the approach like just go ball out.
"Any opportunity I get, I will get in the preseason and who knows what happens after that. So just grow and try and become the best version of myself. I can't really control what happens after that, so let it play out."
Love had no choice but to let it play out, and after three seasons spent in the shadow of an often-waffling Rodgers, he'll finally step into the spotlight in 2023. Despite Rodgers' public displeasure with Green Bay's decision to spend a first-round pick on his successor, Love revealed he still learned plenty from Rodgers while quietly sitting behind him.
"I learned a lot. I was able to watch a great quarterback, how he works every day, how he handles business in the locker room, interacts with teammates, how he attacks every day," Love said. "Just being able to sit back as a quarterback and observe him, observe his footwork, how the ball comes out of his hands, just how he practice every day and takes that into the game. There's just very valuable stuff. I was able to sit for three years and kind of just pick his brain and watch him work."
At this point, the sporting world knows Rodgers is a unique individual, one who goes on darkness retreats in the offseason to reset himself mentally before returning to football, and isn't afraid to use his leverage to extract maximum compensation from his employer. Rodgers certainly did plenty of the latter after the Packers selected Love, but it didn't hinder their relationship.
Instead of treating him with the warmth of a polar ice cap -- similar to the fashion in which Brett Favre once treated Rodgers before his own departure for New York -- Rodgers was surprisingly more welcoming to Love than had been previously described. This carried over through Rodgers' split from the Packers, according to Love.
"We talked after the trade. Kind of just wish you the best going forward, he wished me the best," Love said of Rodgers. "Always there for me if I need anything or had any questions. I was just grateful to be around him and for the time I had with him. To be able to learn and be behind him, it's very grateful for me."
Love has plenty of reason to be motivated entering 2023. He's finally receiving a chance to prove himself in more than just preseason games, and he knows how it feels to spend full seasons on the bench with little chance of ever seeing the field.
"It's very hard. It's not easy," Love said. "Obviously, you want to be the guy -- everybody wants to be the guy, everybody wants to be on the field making plays -- so it's not easy. But it was the situation I was put in. There was really nothing I could do about it. I say all the time to control what I can control and all I can control in that situation is how I approach every day, how I learn, how I grow, and how I get myself ready when my name is called."
There have been benefits to spending so much time on the bench.
Love told reporters he feels he's "improved drastically" since arriving from Utah State in 2020, gaining a full understanding of Matt LaFleur's offensive scheme, which gives him the confidence to lead the offense, even if he doesn't have a ton of in-game experience to support him.
"When he talks, everybody listens, even though it's his first year starting," running back Aaron Jones said.
Jones stood as a symbol of how the Packers approached the end of the Rodgers era, bluntly explaining their stance: "A-Rod doesn't want to be here, so he's not going to be here."
Jones is correct.
Rodgers is gone.
Love is his replacement and will take the field with a three-year education gained from the sideline and the practice field. For the first time in a decade, the Packers won't be a headlining topic in the NFL entering a season.
Love can change that by playing well early. He'll have his teammates' full support from the first snap.