It’s Father vs. Son As Green Bay Packers Take On Carolina Panthers

Sunday’s game at Lambeau Field between the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers features a reunion of sorts, as in father vs. son.

Carolina Panthers special teams coordinator Richard Rodgers will be facing his son, Green Bay Packers rookie right end Richard Rodgers II when the teams hook up Sunday at noon.

According to the Charlotte Observer, the two planned to get together with family members for dinner Saturday night at the younger Rodgers home in Green Bay and will visit briefly on Sunday morning on the field, before heading to their respective sidelines to go to work.

“Let the chips fall where they may,” the elder Rodgers said. “Family can root for him as long as we win the game.”

There are connections between the two that go beyond the basic father-son links. The younger Rodgers followed his father to the University of California, where Rodgers Sr. was a safety in the early 1980s and took part in one of the most iconic plays in college football history.

Yes, Richard Rodgers Sr. handled two of the five laterals on what is known simply as “The Play,” a last-second kickoff return for a touchdown that included the Stanford band coming onto the field as Cal beat the Cardinal on the final play in what was John Elway’s final collegiate game.

Rodgers played three seasons in the Arena League before getting into coaching, beginning at the junior college level and continuing with multiple stops at the FBS and FCS levels.

He was at Holy Cross before getting the call to join Ron Rivera’s staff in Carolina. Rodgers Sr. and Rivera were teammates at Cal.

Three decades later, Rodgers II made the decision to go to Cal, where he played tight end for former Golden Bears coach Jeff Tedford before being asked to lose 30 pounds to play wide receiver in the system installed by new coach Sonny Dykes last season.

Rodgers caught 39 passes for 608 yards last season, then put the weight back on and declared for the NFL Draft, where he was picked in the third round by the Packers.

Rodgers II has started four of Green Bay’s first six games, but is second on the depth chart at this point behind veteran Andrew Quarless, who caught the game-winning touchdown in the Packers’ 27-24 thriller at Miami last week.

Rodgers caught two passes in Green Bay’s win at Chicago in Week 4 for 52 yards. One of the receptions was a 43-yard gain. Those are his only career grabs to this point and his blocking is still a work in progress.

This will be the first time father and son have squared off.

“Yeah, it’s pretty cool,” Rodgers II told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I haven’t done it before, so I’m looking forward to it. It’s always been either him coaching or me getting to be on the sideline before every game, but I had to go in the stands because I was too young to be on the sideline.

“It’s going to be cool to be on the field with him actually this time.”

Rodgers Sr. believes his son has what it takes to develop into a successful every-down tight end who can block and catch.

The Panthers met with the younger Rodgers at the scouting combine in Indianapolis, but the father was asked to leave the room. Had he remained, he knows what he would have told him.

“I’d probably start with, ‘You’ve got a lot of stuff to work on if you plan on playing at this level in this league.’ And clearly he still does. He has a lot of stuff to work on.”

Spoken like a true coach, father or no.