Jerry Rice: Aaron Rodgers is QB I'd most like to play with today

Aaron Rodgers photo courtesy of the Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers photo courtesy of the Green Bay Packers

(Photo courtesy of Jim Biever/Green Bay Packers)

By Clark Judge

Talk of Fame Network

Jerry Rice caught touchdown passes from two Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks, Joe Montana and Steve Young, in the 1980s and 1990s. Yet the 52-year-old wide receiver is in such good shape he looks as if he could play today.

So let’s say he could. The obvious question, then, is: Of all the quarterbacks out there, whom would he like to play with most?

“Aaron Rodgers,” Rice answered immediately. “And the reason why is that I think he makes everyone better around him. His execution on the football field is just unbelievable. He has accuracy, a strong arm, can throw the ball on the run, can throw the ball anywhere on the football field. Just an exceptional quarterback.”

Rice, who has teamed with the MetLife Premier Client Group as part of balanced financial planning campaign, praised others, including New England’s Tom Brady – a local quarterback (Brady grew up in nearby San Mateo) the 49ers worked out prior to the 2000 draft. Like others, they declined to choose him and went in another direction – drafting Gio Carmazzi in the third round and Tim Rattay in the seventh.

The results speak for themselves.

“Things really work out for a reason,” said Rice, “and it was meant for him not to get signed by the 49ers and for him to go to New England.”

Five years later, the 49ers had a chance to take Rodgers, who was quarterbacking Cal, but chose Alex Smith instead with the first pick of the draft. Rodgers would drop to the 24th spot before Green Bay – which had Brett Favre -- rescued him, and the results again speak volumes.

“Believe me” said Rice. “He hasn’t forgotten that. He told me this: He said, ‘If I play the Niners, I’m out to get the Niners. I’m going to make them pay for not drafting me.’ Those words came right out of his mouth.”

Rodgers is 2-4 vs. San Francisco (including the playoffs), and while he has 13 touchdown passes and 3 interceptions he's lost four straight -- including two playoff games. Nevertheless, Rice is sold on him.

“I would want to line up with this guy today,” he said. “(Imagine) the things that we could do on the football field. Aaron Rodgers can make every throw possible.

“It’s weird because I caught footballs from him. Right before he got drafted, (the Tampa Bay Bucs) had a workout at Cal. I went in, and he had no idea that I was coming in. And (then coach) Jon Gruden said, ‘Guess who you’re going to be throwing the ball to today? Jerry Rice.’ And Aaron Rodgers freaked out. He couldn’t hit anything. He was throwing the ball high and all over the place. But to watch him now and to watch him go out and compete … he’s doing a good job.”

With a passer rating of 119.0, Rodgers is the league’s top-rated quarterback. He has 35 touchdown passes, 3 interceptions and hasn’t thrown a pick since an Oct. 26 loss in New Orleans – the Packers’ last defeat.