Aaron Rodgers is 31, and the Seattle Seahawks are a young team that could become a dynasty — so the idea that he may tear through the NFC for years just like Tom Brady did with the AFC is maybe not quite there. But he’s unquestionably one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL, and part of his narrative over the years has been the rejection element, perhaps best detailed here and here. He’s talked a few times — 60 Minutes, E:60, etc. — about the Purdue assistant coach rejection story, which is a staple of the Aaron Rodgers Chip On Shoulder narrative.
I decided to make an effort to figure out who the assistant coach might have been.
Rodgers graduated from high school in the spring of 2002; he claims he sent the tape to Purdue in his senior year — that probably means the fall of 2001, football-wise.
The 2001 Purdue Boilermakers team, 6-6 in the Big Ten with Kyle Orton as QB, had Joe Tiller as the head coach, Jim Chaney as the OC, and Blaine Bennett as the QB coach. Danny Hope, who would later be the head coach of Purdue, was the OL coach; all the other assistants listed online are defensively-minded. I don’t completely know how college football recruiting works, but I’d imagine offensive-side-of-the-ball guys recruit other offensive guys, generally speaking.
As such, if it was indeed a Purdue assistant and not Joe Tiller, then your two best bets are Jim Chaney and Blaine Bennett. Both are still coaching — Chaney is the OC of Pittsburgh right now, and Bennett is the receivers coach at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.
If it was Bennett who wrote that letter wishing Rodgers’ luck at his “attempt” at a college football career, the paths that Bennett and Rodgers have followed since 2002 couldn’t really be that different.
Bennett did become a head coach — he had actually previously been a head coach, at Western Oregon, before working at Purdue and Michigan State — and ran Central Washington University for five years, going 41-16 in the process. He was, however, fired for a series of violations — including purchasing alcohol with public funds.
In the same time frame, Aaron Rodgers won a Super Bowl, got a bunch of endorsements, started dating Olivia Munn, and signed a deal for $110 million. That’s a long way from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.
If it was Blaine Bennett who sent that letter to Rodgers, well …