Relaxed Rodgers looks to join the elite club

By Simon Evans

MIAMI (Reuters) - Aaron Rodgers has proven his quality as a great NFL quarterback this season but he has one more challenge to meet if he is to be regarded as a truly elite player - winning the Super Bowl.

Rodgers, spent three years as back-up to record-breaking quarterback Brett Favre at the Packers and it has taken three more for him to truly convince everyone that he was the right man to take on that daunting role.

His displays this season, particularly his outstanding performance in the divisional playoff against Atlanta, have earned him plaudits but he is not yet ready to say his dream has come true.

"It has if we win," he said this week as the Packers prepared for the February 6 clash in Dallas with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Rodgers is not only one of the most likeable players in the league, with a genuinely relaxed manner and politeness combined with the necessary steel.

It is a sign of his humility and his intelligence that he says he has spent time this week on the phone with players who have been to the Super Bowl, such as former Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, discussing how to handle the unique pressures and demands the game, and the intense build-up, provide.

The bearded Californian will bring to the Super Bowl all the skills a modern quarterback needs - sharp, reliable and varied passing, outstanding vision and - what sets him apart from many others - brilliant footwork that allows him to improvise, avoid sacks and occasionally dash for the endzone himself.

Rodgers also has another quality that teams always seek from their quarterback - his leadership abilities in the locker-room and on the field.

"I think it's one of the most important parts of my job, I really do. I think a leader needs to first lead by example. I hope my teammates would say that about me, that I'm a guy who shows up early, is the most prepared guy on the offense, and cares about his teammates deeply.

"I'm a competitor. I wear my emotions on my sleeve often during the game.

"And I realize I can be not only the face of the franchise, but also a guy that people look to on the field for energy, enthusiasm, how my attitude is and I'm very aware of all that."

His personality may sit uneasily with the showbiz glitz that accompanies the approach to the biggest day in the American sporting calendar but Rodgers isn't going to shy away from the attention.

And if he plays as he can - the Super Bowl will surely enjoy him.

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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