MILWAUKEE -- The NFL lockout has led to a very quiet three months since the Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6.
Most players haven't been seen or heard other than a few comments on social networks or quick comments at charity events.
So Packers fans took the opportunity to ask Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers topical questions during his MACC Fund event Tuesday night and he had a few updates.
He's trimmed down a little, losing four pounds this off-season during conditioning.
He thinks the lockout is having a detrimental effect.
"It takes time away from being together," said Rodgers. "Normally we'd be in to our IPWs -- Individual Position Workouts. . . .
"But I've been working out, getting myself into shape. If this drags in June, we're going to have to find a way to get together; other teams have been doing it a little bit."
And he mentioned he might add a new twist to his belt celebration this season, while he explained the history behind the belt, which was started when he was a backup on the scout team.
"It's tough to get guys motivated, especially older guys," said Rodgers. "So I made it my goal to get those guys to have as much fun as possible knowing we had to give the defense a good look and I had to bring it.
"So I said, every time we make a big play, we're celebrating. Everybody. It made it fun for us and also it ticked off the defense real bad. So they started playing harder. For me that was great, I could work on my timing, I was going against Al Harris and Charles Woodson, the best corners in the league."
Otherwise, many Packers fans know Rodgers' story from junior college player to Brett Favre's successor to Super Bowl XLV MVP pretty well.
But Rodgers also shared a few stories with questioner Trent Dilfer and the audience:
He has heard the critics from the beginning. "Along the way a lot of people told me I couldn't do it," said Rodgers. He had parents and close friends who supported him. "I think my story hopefully can inspire kids that, you know what, at some point, you tell those critics to shove it if you believe in yourself."
He turned the skepticism into motivation.
"I'd wake up at 6:30 when I was in eighth grade and I'd say you know what? There are kids out there who are probably better than me," said Rodgers. "But I know they're not waking up at 6:30.
"When I was in high school, they'd have a list of the top 100 quarterbacks in the state. And I wasn't on there. And I was ticked. So I said I'm going to work out twice. In the morning, then I'm going to go to class, then work out again because I know -- I know -- those kids in the top 100? They aren't doing that.
"And I had enough people say to me, 'You can do it, I see how hard you're working, I see how much you want it.'."
He credits quarterbacks coach Tom Clements for developing him. "We play quarterback in a chaotic environment, but we practice in a perfect environment," he said. Rodgers studies how he plays the game as much as the opponent.
He was very proud of his game at Atlanta in the playoffs and said part of the reason was because the Packers try to make practice feel like a game environment.
"But those throws, throwing across my body to Donald Driver or getting one to Jordy Nelson on the run -- those are throws we work on in practice," said Rodgers. "I don't know that other teams are doing that."
He's a little embarrassed by that YouTube video that circulated awhile back of him on stage dancing with Rascal Flatts. "I can't dance. But I love to dance. I make a fool of myself, I don't care."
Dilfer and Rodgers shared a good laugh over such acronyms like IPWs. They are, apparently, a coach Mike McCarthy specialty.
"McCarthy has a term for everything," said Dilfer. "Give me a break! He's drawing from (Bill) Walsh, (Marty) Schottenheimer, (Mike) Holmgren -- it's like he sits at home and says, Individual Position Workouts. I can make this sound more football-ish.
"That is 100 percent correct," said Rodgers. "Mike is the king of shortening things up. And then it's his own."
Golfer Andy North said Rodgers and a few teammates were invited to the Wisconsin at UW-Green Bay college basketball game in 2009. Rodgers ended up not showing. He sent North a text message: "I'm into Bears film, and I don't think the other guys would appreciate if I wasn't working." The Packers beat Chicago, 21-14, at Soldier Field that week.
Finally, everyone knows the story of Rodgers' agonizing wait as he fell to No. 24 in the 2005 draft before the Packers took him. It turns out a Packers linebacker helped Rodgers get adjusted.
"When we were going through our pre-draft training, we did research on the area we thought we might get drafted. I thought I was going top 10; so I researched the top 10 teams.
"I could name off their main attractions in the city; their general manager, head coach, offensive coordinator, quarterback coach.
"When Green Bay finally took me -- I'll be honest -- I had no idea where it was. I knew Brett was the quarterback. ....."
So Rodgers hopped on a plane from New York to Detroit, where the native Californian saw snow. In late April.
"Man, where the heck am I?" he thought. "Mind you, I didn't study the Green Bay Packers -- my pre-draft interview actually didn't go very well, and I didn't think there was any chance they were going to take me.
"I sit next to N'ail Diggs on the plane and N'ail was great. He was only with me one year, but he was like a big brother the entire season. He looked out for me and it started with that trip. The rest is history."
Rodgers recalled one more story. Most quarterbacks don't get cheered after a losing season -- unless they throw for 4,038 yards as a first-year starter in the shadow of Favre's legacy.
"I'd like to say one of my greatest moments was beating Detroit in 2008 at home. We finished 6-10; they were 0-15 at the time," said Rodgers. "If I had told myself before the season that I would get a standing ovation as I leave the field being 6-10, I would have said I must have got hurt. .....
"To have that kind of reception -- after such a tumultuous season and off-season -- it really made you all as fans have a special place in my heart."