Edmonton Eskimos get shoutout from Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
It seems the Edmonton Eskimos had one of the biggest football fans there could possibly be over the past six seasons.
Speaking to reporters about the recently announced National Football League pre-season game between the Green Bay Packers and the Oakland Raiders, Aaron Rodgers name-dropped the city where the Green and Gold are headquartered.
“I’m excited about it,” said the 35-year-old star Packers quarterback and two-time NFL MVP. “I have not been to Winnipeg before, but I am a fan of the CFL because a former teammate of ours, Mike Reilly, has long dominated the CFL.
“Now he has just switched teams. He was with Edmonton for a long time. But I’m excited to get up there.”
Indeed, the 34-year-old Reilly has been the force of dominance in the three-down loop since winning the Grey Cup with the Eskimos in 2015. In each of the three seasons since, the Central Washington product led the league in passing yards.
And it’s no coincidence those three years began when Reilly started working with Eskimos head coach Jason Maas and QBs-coach-turned offensive co-ordinator Jordan Maksymic.
But Reilly’s path to dominance began the moment he stepped inside the home locker-room at Commonwealth Stadium.
In an interesting statistic originally compiled by Derek Taylor, formerly of TSN and now the new play-by-play voice of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, no other CFL player has accounted for more yards of offence than Reilly since coming to Edmonton and rising to the starting ranks in 2013.
It’s not even close. Reilly’s passing numbers alone are more than the passing and rushing totals than the next guy behind him, while his 3,000 rushing yards are three times that of the next best scrambler.
That makes Reilly the total package at least, it seems, in the eyes of Rodgers, who holds the NFL record with a career passer rating of 103.1 and knows a thing or two about dominant quarterbacks.
After all, it takes one to know one.
The thing is, Reilly must have made quite the impression on Rodgers, given his days in Green Bay have been over for 10 years now. And not only that, but Reilly was only a member of the Packers practice squad from Nov. 19, 2009, to Dec. 9, 2009, when he was picked up off of it by the St. Louis Rams.
So in just three short weeks an entire decade ago, one of the biggest personalities ever to grace the CFL became a memorable teammate of an NFL future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer to the point where Rodgers keeps up with Reilly’s comings and goings.
It’s a two-way street, of course, with Reilly regularly going to Rodgers for advice in the past, which at one point included tips on playing in Canadian conditions that, at times, can make the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field look quite balmy.
“I talk to him every couple of weeks, just to keep in touch,” Reilly said back in 2012. “So I figured if I’m going to ask somebody about how to play in snow, that’s probably the best guy to ask. He said just keep your head and your hands warm and let the rest worry about itself. There’s nothing you change. As long as you can grip the ball fine and your head and ears are warm so you can think, then things will be all right.”
The only thing we don’t know is whether Rodgers will end up switching his CFL allegiances to the west coast, where Reilly returned in free agency to where it all began for him up here in 2010.
While Reilly is a friend and former teammate, there is no denying Rodgers has to have a certain comfort level going with the Pomona green and Spanish yellow colour combination of Eskimos uniforms, which to the naked eye might just as well be the medium jungle green and selective yellow of his beloved Packers.
All tongue-in-cheekedness aside, Rodgers’ Packers will take on the soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders at I.G. Field on Aug. 22.
And for one day, at least, they can be called the Winnipeg Raiders, given they come into the exhibition as the home team.
Whether or not Rodgers and many of the other big names will suit up for the game, or even make the trip given it will be Week 3 of the NFL pre-season, is another matter.
But that hasn’t stopped tickets from running in the $75-340 range, plus taxes.
On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge
CFL QUARTERBACK YARDS FROM SCRIMMAGE SINCE 2013:
PLAYER PASSING RUSHING TOTAL
Mike Reilly 26,929 3,040 29,969
Bo Levi Mitchell 24,305 656 24,961
Trevor Harris 18,075 567 18,642
Kevin Glenn 16,159 368 16,527
Ricky Ray 16,146 395 16,541
Zach Collaros 16,657 932 17,589
Matt Nichols 15,543 504 16,047
Darian Durant* 13,183 1,038 14,221
Drew Willy 8,943 670 9,613
*Retired following 2017 season