GREEN BAY, Wis. – Sometimes they’re intentional, and other times they’re spur of the moment. But whatever the driving force behind some of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ memorable mottos and catchphrases, they usually turn out right.
This season brought another one: Week 6 when Rodgers beat the Chicago Bears for the fifth straight time and the 22nd time in 27 starts.
When Rodgers screamed for his entire existence he has owned the Bears and that he still owns them, it went viral thanks to the Fox TV camera in the Soldier Field end zone that captured the video and sound.
It was completely in character for the self-assured Rodgers, who faces the Bears again on Sunday night at Lambeau Field (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC).
"I still own you”
Rodgers said this week he doesn’t regret what he said after his 6-yard touchdown scramble in the fourth quarter of their 24-14 win over the Bears on Oct. 17.
But he made it clear this week that he was talking to the Chicago fans and not the Bears players when he said: “All my f---ing life, I own you. I still own you. I still own you."
He said it was prompted by a woman in the stands giving him the middle finger with both hands.
Said Packers running back Aaron Jones at the time: "What can you say? He's right."
The 2012 season had started poorly. The Packers were 2-3 heading into a prime-time game with the 5-0 Houston Texans. Their offense had sputtered and Rodgers had thrown four interceptions in the first five games.
After a six-touchdown performance in a 42-24 win, Rodgers did a postgame interview with NBC’s Michele Tafoya, who asked him: “What do you think you told the critics tonight?”
Rodgers simply let out a sound: “Shhh.”
Rodgers might have gotten the idea for his reaction from a Pizza Hut commercial he filmed earlier that year. That ad showed him shushing someone and saying, “Less talking, more eating.”
Said Rodgers after the game: “It's almost better when people are doubting us a little bit, I think. We kind of band together. People tried to pull us apart this week and we stuck together and found our motivation."
Whatever the inspiration for shushing the critics, it started a five-game winning streak in which Rodgers threw 17 touchdowns and just one interception. In all, the Packers won nine of their last 11 games to finish 11-5 and win the NFC North for the second straight season.
In 2014, the Packers had started 1-2 for the third straight season. In the previous two, they rebounded to make the playoffs.
Rodgers didn’t see that year any differently.
Yet on the outside, there seemed to be more angst and panic – perhaps because Rodgers himself was off to a slow start. He failed to throw for even 200 yards in two of the first three games and was on pace for the lowest completion percentage of his career to date.
"Five letters here just for everybody out there in Packer-land: R-E-L-A-X," Rodgers said as he slowly read off the letters one by one. "Relax. We're going to be OK."
The Packers lost only twice more in the regular season to finish 12-4 and reach the NFC Championship Game, where they lost in overtime at Seattle. Rodgers won the second of his three MVPs for that season.
"Run the table”
On Nov. 23, 2016, Rodgers told the media assembled at his locker for his regular midweek press conference that despite their 4-6 record and their four-game losing streak, he thought they could “run the table” – meaning win the rest of their games.
It wasn’t so much a prediction as a message to the rest of his team.
"It's an expression of confidence," then Packers coach Mike McCarthy said at the time. "That's a statement that he made. I read about it just like everybody else. I think it just shows what's going on internally, but the fact of the matter is we have to win the next game. We all get that part."
It turned into a galvanizing moment. Six straight wins to end the regular season gave them the NFC North title. Two more playoff wins put them in the NFC Championship Game, where they lost to the Atlanta Falcons.
In the days leading up to last season’s NFC Championship, Rodgers was asked if this might be his last best chance to get to a second Super Bowl with the Packers, considering they had just drafted Jordan Love as his possible replacement.
“I hope there's more opportunities, but I don't know,” Rodgers said at the time. “I mean, I really don't. That stuff is out of my control. My future is a beautiful mystery I think.”
After the Packers lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC title game, Rodgers threw himself into the list of players with unknown futures, starting an offseason filled with speculation about whether he would be back.
That included the April report that he was disgruntled with the organization and did not want to return to the Packers, something that wasn’t settled until the day before training camp opened in July.