Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has won 20 regular-season games against the Bears. | Tony Avelar, AP Photos
“I’ve always enjoyed the city, enjoyed the fans — even though they haven’t enjoyed me,” Rodgers said.
Aaron Rodgers likes to go on long walks the night before football games. In Chicago, those trips start at the Packers team hotel and often end, eventually, at Mastro’s for dinner.
One year, the quarterback ran into a mother and son on the street. Despite Rodgers being bundled up, they recognized him and walked with him for four or five blocks.
Bears fans haven’t often been cordial to Rodgers — “I don’t think they’re very happy with me … but I respect that,” he told Green Bay reporters Wednesday — but these two were lovely.
“I’ve always enjoyed the city, enjoyed the fans — even though they haven’t enjoyed me,” Rodgers said. “I get it. Maybe there’ll be a little more love when my time comes to an end playing here.”
That could be soon. Rodgers could be in the middle of his “Last Dance” with the Packers after a contentious offseason in which his representatives lobbied for a trade. If he were to leave this offseason — be via agency or a trade — Rodgers knows he won’t end up in Chicago. He doesn’t really need to say it out loud.
“It’s just not going to happen,” he said.
The Bears are happy with rookie quarterback Justin Fields and would undoubtedly be thrilled to see Rodgers leave the division — or retire. Rodgers is 20-4 against the Bears in regular-season games that he both started and finished. The Packers lost at home to the Bears in 2013 when, two-and-a-half minutes into the game, Shea McClellin broke the quarterback’s collarbone.
Leading up to what could be his last game at Soldier Field as a member of the Packers, Rodgers was complimentary of a place he called a “great sports town.” He fell in love with Chicago sports the way many across the country did as children — on WGN, where he watched Bulls and Cubs games from his Northern California living room.
“I naturally became a fan,” he said.
He won’t find many fans of him in the city, though.
“Definitely had some battles, some cold-weather battles, some miserable games,” Rodgers said.
He began rattling them off: the 2015 Thanksgiving game at Lambeau Field that was played in a downpour; the game played at Soldier Field two days before Christmas 2007 with a -18 wind chill; and the “Monday Night Football” game at Soldier Field, almost a year later to the day, with a -13 wind chill.
All were Bears wins.
He kept listing games: in 2016, the Bears and Packers played in 10-degree weather, the fifth-coldest Bears home game ever. And then there’s the NFC title game in Jan 2011, where the Packers advanced to the Super Bowl in 7-degree weather.
“Some great players in those games,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to play against, play with, love the stadium down there. It’s a great venue. They’ve done a better job with the grass over the last few years.”
In 2007, he said, Rodgers and his teammates walked onto the Soldier Field turf, took a step and found their feet made a “10-inch indentation in the grass.” He wondered how they were supposed to play in such conditions.
“But that’s just part of the rivalry …” he said. “Been some fun ones over the years.”