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A couple of hours later, Rodgers texted me and told me he'd come here. His name, once the province of the sports pages, started to appear with greater regularity in the tabloids, and last summer, when his younger brother, Jordan, revealed on The Bachelorette that Aaron no longer had a relationship with the family, those stories took on a new life. But the drumbeat of gossip and innuendo kept rising, and at some point, he realized his voice was lost in the noise.

So now he's sitting a few feet away from me on my sofa in a black T-shirt and jeans, Stan Smiths tapping on the floor, his arm -- maybe the most valuable arm in the world -- resting on a throw pillow. When he sits down, he scans the room, his eyes flickering as he processes my books, my records, the dog toy I forgot to pick up before he arrived. So he's found himself here, on my sofa, popping probably-not-fresh berries into his mouth as the room fills with light. "Just to be understood a little bit more." the stuff of NFL legend, is best summarized as a long list of slights: A scrawny kid becomes a talented high school quarterback but fails to attract any interest from Division I schools.

I set my phone on the table and press the record button. So he won't be taken "out of context," he explains. Some of this comes with the territory -- all-galaxy quarterback, face of a multibillion-dollar insurance company, vessel for an entire state's hopes and dreams -- but it rarely feels calculated. He lands in Green Bay, where he spends three years as Brett Favre's understudy and is greeted by booing fans when he finally becomes the starter.

"It's natural to question some of the things that society defines as success," he says."I remember asking a question as a young person about somebody in a remote rainforest," he tells me."Because the words that I got were: 'If you don't confess your sins, then you're going to hell.' And I said, 'What about the people who don't have a Bible readily accessible?"It happens for some at an early age; others, you know, maybe a little older.That happened to me six or seven years ago." Like so many players in the NFL, Rodgers devoted much of his young life to those twin pillars of American culture: football and faith.

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