GREEN BAY, Wis. – Richard Rodgers doesn’t know what happened to the football, the one he caught for the game-winning, 61-yard Hail Mary touchdown against the Detroit Lions on Thursday night. He thinks Green Bay Packers equipment manager Red Batty might have it, but he’s not completely sure.
“That’s not something I really care about that much,” Rodgers said. “Aaron [Rodgers] might want it more than I do.”
He said he doesn’t need the ball to remember the play.
“There’s video,” he said. “It’s not like it never happened.”
But it’s not like he’s spent much time watching that, either.
Talk to the second-year tight end, and it sounds like life hasn’t changed much since he was on the receiving end of perhaps the most memorable pass in the NFL this season. It’s this year’s equivalent of the Odell Beckham Jr. one-hander from last season.
But less than 24 hours after his miracle catch, Rodgers had a different kind of ball in his hands.
He spent Friday evening at a local bowling alley – two alleys, actually – along with teammates Davante Adams and James Jones. They hosted the Strikes for Kids GB Bowling Classic, a charity event that featured more than 90 kids from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Green Bay and 200 other participants.
“We had scheduled this a long time ago,” Rodgers said. “I try to keep up with my commitments if the schedule allows. If I say I’m going to do something, I did it.”
By then, he had seen a replay of his catch at least a dozen times. None of them, however, happened on purpose.
“I’ve seen it quite a few times because on social media, it kind of blows up on there,” he said. “That’s pretty much the only way I watched it.”
Otherwise, he went about life as usual. He stayed in Green Bay all weekend even though many of his teammates left town because they didn’t have practice until Tuesday.
When they returned to Lambeau Field for meetings on Tuesday morning, Rodgers saw the play again. This time, it was part of the film review of the Lions game before coach Mike McCarthy quickly turned the attention to Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.
There was no fuss or cheer when the play popped onto the screen during the meeting. It was shown to review the execution, not to celebrate the accomplishment.
“When it happens in a game, obviously it’s a little bit shocking,” Rodgers said. “But when we watch it as a team, I think everyone’s over it and on to the next game.”
In the immediate aftermath of the game, Rodgers revealed that he wasn’t even supposed to be the one to catch the ball. His job, as the play is designed, was to block out defenders for Adams to get the first crack at the ball. Rodgers was supposed to get it only in the case of a deflection.
He was only half joking after the game when he said he might get a negative grade from tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot for a missed assignment. However, Fontenot let him off the hook.
“I didn’t get an M.A. for that,” Rodgers said. “I think it was just a spur of the moment thing. It was just a crazy play.”
Speaking of spur-of-the-moment things, when Rodgers and his two teammates were at last Friday’s charity event, the power got knocked out at the Ashwaubenon Bowling Alley. With all the Boys & Girls Club kids and other participants hoping to bowl with their heroes, the players’ marketing agents, Kenny Chapman and Heath Patton of AiA Sports & Entertainment, scrambled to find another location. Chapman said he called another bowling alley, The Gutter, and moved the entire event across town.
He never heard one complaint from Rodgers, Adams or Jones.
“Those guys are just great guys, easygoing, and I love that they like to give back and do those types of things,” Chapman said. “They were actually really excited about it, and they all wanted to do something to give back.”