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Cal Football

Cal QB Legend Aaron Rodgers Talks About Donation to Cal

June 11, 2019
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Earlier today, a generous seven-figure donation from Cal QB legend and shoo-in future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers to Cal Athletics was announced. The gift will go towards renovating the football locker room, including replacing lockers that failed to hold up after the 2012 stadium project, as well as the establishment of the Aaron Rodgers Football Scholarship that will go annually to a junior college recruit.

“I loved my time at Cal,” said Rodgers after today’s Green Bay Packers practice. “We had a lot of fun there in my two years.”

The return of head coach Justin Wilcox to the Cal football program in 2017 after serving as linebackers coach in his first stint at Cal from 2003 to 2005 in his first position coach job in his young career at the time, was key in getting the ball rolling with having former Cal players more involved in the program in a more substantial way. Wilcox was just four years removed from his own collegiate career at the time and was able to establish close bonds with many of the players in his early tenure at Cal.

“Justin Wilcox was a buddy at the time,” said Rodgers. “He wasn’t that much older than some of us JuCo guys.

“To see him go from assistant linebacker coach to all over the country – even to the University of Wisconsin – as a big-time defensive coordinator, getting him back as a head coach is, I think, very important to our program.”

Rodgers became an instant Cal football legend, helping lead the Bears to one of their most successful seasons in program history in 2004, leading the team to a 10-2 season and narrowly-missing defeating undefeated eventual National Champion USC in the LA Coliseum.

Though the prior two staffs made a bit of an attempt, Wilcox and the athletic department under Athletic Director Jim Knowlton made an immediate concerted effort to restore the links to past Cal football greatness.

“One of the first things he did was he reached out to a lot of us on those ’03 and ’04 (Cal) teams and brought us back into the fold and made us feel like we were a part of the program again,” said Rodgers. “I think that’s the beauty of college athletics, that you can do that with the right people in charge -charismatic people that care about furthering the university’s sports programs. And as far as the football program is concerned, raising men who are going to be great husbands, great fathers, great businessmen and great in their community. That’s what Justin and their staff are doing.”

Rodgers noted the value of the donation on several levels.

“It was really a two-part (donation). One to help with the facilities there, which obviously helps them out in recruiting. And the second is really a legacy thing for me.

“Being a junior college player, being able to have a scholarship that goes to a junior college transfer means a lot to me because I was that guy. And I think there were nine other guys in that class who were really a big part, I think, of turning the program around under Coach Tedford.”

Rodgers is the Bears’ all-time leader in passing efficiency (150.3).  Overall, Rodgers completed 424-of-665 passes for 5,469 yards with 43 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.  He set a Cal single-game record for passing completion percentage of 85.3 and holds the Cal career record for lowest percentage of passes intercepted at 1.95 percent.

Rodgers has gone on to a hugely-successful NFL career with a pair of MVP awards and a Super Bowl trophy and MVP to his name and is still playing at a high level for the Green Bay Packers. He’ll eventually retire as one of the leaders in most every NFL QB offensive category.

 
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