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"I think questions like that in your mind lead to really beautiful periods where you start to grow as a person," he says. you realize, I don't really know the answers to these questions." to my house, he stops in a hipster café in my neighborhood (think: exposed brick, single-origin list, baristas with deliberately misshapen haircuts) and texts to ask whether I want a cup of coffee. When I open the door, I see him sitting in the middle of the store, surrounded by aspiring screenwriters glued to their laptops. Rodgers likes LA for the same reasons most transplants do: He grew up in a small town and was drafted by a football team in a small town, and aside from the one and a half years he spent at Cal, he'd never experienced life in a city before.
"I think organized religion can have a mind-debilitating effect, because there is an exclusivity that can shut you out from being open to the world, to people, and energy, and love and acceptance. All appear to be unaware -- or uninterested -- that a future Hall of Famer is in their midst. He likes it all: the live music, the organic grocery stores, the expectation that he can walk around without being stalked by middle-aged men with Sharpies asking him to sign memorabilia they'll later sell on e Bay.
After Super Bowl XLV, Rodgers and Bell spent a lot of time talking about what he experienced on that bus -- how he felt, or didn't feel, and his realization that absolute success on the field didn't make him completely content.
It wasn't until he confronted his own "narrow-minded" views about the world and his place in it, he says, that he experienced a sense of the fulfillment he yearned for. While he owns a house in San Diego, he spends pretty much all of his non-helmet-wearing time here.
'" For years, these concerns nagged at him, especially as he met more people from other walks of life -- teammates who grew up in different parts of the world, friends with different religious backgrounds.
He started reading books that delved into alternate interpretations of theology.
"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?
As he studies his surroundings, it occurs to me that when I write about this, I'll have to describe my things instead of his things, and I realize that's probably why we're here. Before he speaks, he pauses, choosing his words like a surgeon plucking instruments from a table. Over the years, as his celebrity exploded, he closed certain windows, sequestering his private life while he charmed the public with his dry wit and quirky hobbies. 1 pick -- then plummets in the 2005 draft, sweating it out in a pinstriped suit as millions watch.
If you close-read the language in the Bible, Rodgers tells me, it's clear that the words are intended to evoke an analogy for man's separation from God.
"It wasn't a fiery pit idea -- that [concept] was handed down in the 1700s by the Puritans and influenced Western culture," he says. "It's a beautiful piece of work, but it was never meant to be interpreted as I think some churches do." I ask him whether he still sees himself as a Christian, and he says he no longer identifies with any affiliation.
Rather, he realized he was still looking for something -- for a sense of clarity, or purpose -- that was beyond his current line of sight.
"It's natural to question some of the things that society defines as success," he says.Over time, as he read more, Rodgers grew increasingly convinced that the beliefs he had internalized growing up were wrong, that spirituality could be far more inclusive and less literal than he had been taught.