“I am totally dialed in and locked in with everything that’s going on right now,” Aaron Rodgers says.
He could be talking about a handful of things. He’s focused, of course, on his 10th season as the Packers’ starter and continuing his reign as the highest-rated passer in NFL history. But right now, he’s not thinking about football. No, he’s talking about the most recent episode of Game of Thrones.
“I love Arya, because she’s back in the mix now. She’s sparring with Brienne of Tarth, which was a weird moment, I think, for Sansa,” Rodgers says. “To see her little sister, who is incredible — and now [Sansa] knows [Arya] has this list that [Sansa] thought [Arya] was joking about — but no, she’s probably been going out and killing people.”
We know Rodgers is a great quarterback, but he’s also one of football’s leading Game of Thrones theorists. He loves the show because it lends itself to armchair speculation. Before Thrones took the no. 1 spot in his personal hierarchy, Rodgers’s favorite show was one of the original petri dishes for fan theories.
“It’s the first show, to me, that has been as intriguing and as interesting as Lost,” he says.
He has many of his own theories, but Rodgers’s most bold take concerns the lineage of three of the shows main characters.
“I think that Jon Snow, Daenerys, and the Hand of the Queen [Tyrion Lannister] — I think they are all related. Three dragons, three riders, three siblings,” Rodgers says. “We know from Bran, the Three-Eyed Raven, that Ned Stark was not Jon Snow’s father. The Mad King might have been his father, might have been him — and that would make Daenerys and Jon brother and sister. And then Tyrion, we don’t know who his mother is, who Tywin slept with. I think there’s some sort of relationship. At least Jon Snow and Daenerys are going to be working together, and they are mining the dragon glass.”
Before taking another beat, he adds: “Oh, I would love to see Cersei get her head whacked off.”
Rodgers regularly wears a shirt around Packers training camp with the motto “That’s what I do; I drink and I know things,” famously delivered by Tyrion Lannister. He says he loves “mindless television” and comedies — he’s long referenced his love for The Office — as it’s all a welcome break from the high-intensity world of pro football. But when he commits to a complicated show, he’s all in.
“There are just so many storylines and you have to really pay attention to keep up,” Rodgers says. “With these shows, I’m dialed in and I really want to tie everything together. I love the [‘previously on’ recaps] to start the episodes. It’s very interesting stuff.”
Rodgers says he’s a “huge Jon Snow fan” but that the Khaleesi is his favorite character. He particularly enjoyed watching her set the Lannister army on fire with one of her dragons. “I hope more stuff happens like what happened Sunday,” Rodgers says. However, he also appreciates some of the more obscure characters.
“Jorah is back now in mix,” he says. “He doesn’t have whatever disease he had — the stone thing — he’s back in the mix. It’s great.”
Thrones watching gets complicated in NFL locker rooms. Training camp tends to fall at some point during the show’s season, so spoilers become a serious source of contention during two-a-days. Green Bay running back Ty Montgomery says there’s not nearly enough Thrones talk in the locker room because of worries over spoilers — a concern Rodgers “100 percent agrees with.” For instance, Rodgers saw Sunday’s episode about 24 hours after it aired. In response, he stayed off of social media until he watched.
“I don’t think fans want to spoil it for me, but people will have a comment — I can’t believe so-and-so died — that’s a spoiler that you want to avoid,” he says.
In addition to preemptively warding off fans, the quarterback has to protect himself from the guys who normally protect him. On Sunday night, tackle Bryan Bulaga approached Rodgers near the dorms for training camp.
“I said, ‘It was amazing!’ and he said, ‘I don’t even want to hear any reactions!’” Bulaga says. “It’s not my fault that you don’t watch it live. That is not my problem.”
“I said, ‘Stop, stop, stop, I’m behind,’” Rodgers says. “Monday morning, a couple of guys are going, ‘Well …’ and you’re going, ‘Stop stop stop.’”
Bulaga, like Rodgers, loves sharing his theories with teammates. He also watches the show with the no-nonsense strategic mind of a football player. In reference to Sunday’s battle, Bulaga says a dragon would just “rub some dirt and walk off” a Lannister crossbow shot.
“I can see the Jon Snow and Khaleesi combination coming, but I think there’s a lot of things to play out. I think she will take the Iron Throne and I think obviously it will drag out for the rest of this season,” Bulaga says. “Next season, I think we’ll finally get a battle with a White Walker, dragon, Jon Snow, and the rest of the seven kingdoms.”
Even though he knew his quarterback hadn’t seen it, Bulaga wanted to tell Rodgers that Sunday was one of the best episodes ever.
“Everyone’s been waiting for the dragons to finally go into a battle scene,” Bulaga says. “It lived up to the hype, no doubt about it.” Rodgers eventually agreed: “Fantastic episode, phenomenal writing.”
Despite all of the potential pitfalls, Rodgers typically watches each episode the night after it airs. Why take that risk? He needs a quiet, peaceful place to enjoy the thing he cares about.
“I don’t like a lot of people talking during it; I’d rather watch alone,” Rodgers says. “I just love this show and I want to concentrate.”
Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.