Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers was surprised when the Packers selected his likely successor in the first round of last month's NFL draft, but he also understands the franchise's future interests.
Rodgers has made his first public statements since the Packers traded up four spots to draft Utah State quarterback Jordan Love at No. 26 overall three weeks ago.
"My general reaction at first was surprise, like many people," Rodgers told reporters in a conference call on Friday.
"Not going to say I was thrilled by the pick necessarily, but I understand the organization is thinking not only about the present, but about the future. And I respect that.
"I understand their focus and their mindset, and obviously they thought that [Love] was such a great talent that they needed to go up and get him."
Many have drawn parallels between how he entered the league – drafted in the first round in 2005 with Hall of Famer Brett Favre, then 35, still on the roster – to Love's situation behind Rodgers, who is 36.
Rodgers, however, feels that his situation with Favre was different, given his lengthy flirtations with retirement after the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
"The goal is for me to play into my 40s – that hasn’t changed," Rodgers said.
The two-time league MVP had previously hoped to retire as a Packer but said that the decision is not his to make anymore.
"If I were to retire on the organization's timetable, then it's an easy decision," Rodgers said.
"But if there comes a time where I still feel like I can play at a high level and my body feels great, then other guys have gone on and played elsewhere."
When Rodgers was drafted, Favre said it was not his job to mentor him, and a relationship that was lukewarm at best followed.
Rodgers foresees a better rapport with Love, adding: "It’s the same that I’ve done with all my backup quarterbacks, and I feel great about those relationships that I’ve developed over the years.
"Many of them are still very close friends. I’ve had great relationships over the years with those guys and expect the same type of relationship with [Love].
"He didn’t ask to get drafted by the Packers. He’s not to blame at all. He’s just coming in excited about his opportunity. We had a great conversation the day after the draft and I’m excited to work with him."
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