This conversation was definitely epic.
As part of their “Epic Conversations” series between athletes and artists, Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon recently sat down to discuss dealing with stardom, the true meaning of their respective professions, their plans for the future, and where to get a drink in Eau Claire.
Here are six thing we learned from their talk:
1. Rodgers is a songwriter… but don’t expect an album any time soon.
In discussing the songwriting process with Vernon, Rodgers let it slip that, in his early 20s, he had tried his hand at songwriting. He shut down any possibility of sharing the work pretty quickly – dismissing it as “silly stuff.” Rodgers also plays a little six-string guitar – for a “select audience” only – and usually after a few drinks.
2. Vernon and Rodgers Love Many of the Same Football Movies… Rudy, Not So Much Anymore
The pair shared a few of their favorite football movies, Vernon singling out the 1993 film Rudy. Rodgers said that in college he watched the film religiously on the 17-inch TV-VCR combo player in his dorm room. But Rodgers lost some love for the movie when long-time Packers coach and Notre Dame alum Tom Clements told him the story – and all of Rodgers’ favorite scenes in it – were “all BS.”
3. Vernon Conceived his hit “Holocene” While Stoned on Christmas
Rodgers asked Vernon about the story behind “Holocene,” the QB’s favorite Bon Iver song. Vernon said the concept that come to his after watching Inglorious Basterds on Christmas night with his brother, then having “a little smokey-smoke” and walking through the icy and desolate Wisconsin landscape. “It was one of those moments where you’re not sure if you’re really the creator of something or not, of if you’ve just been handed something to share.”
4. Vernon Will Always Have the Packers, Rodgers Won’t
“I’ll pretty much have music and the Packers,” Vernon said of his long-term outlook. But Rodgers was content with the idea that he will one day leave the game behind. He wants to get another “five or six” years from his career, but knows that leaving the sport on one’s own terms is a rare thing. “This cannot be it,” he said of football. One of the post-career paths he is considering in something substantive in the arts, possibly working on “edgy documentary [film] projects.”
5. Vernon Has Lost Track of His Tattoos and has an Idea for Rodgers’ First
Pressed by Rodgers, Vernon was literally unable to remember how many tattoos he has, estimating the number to be somewhere around “thirty-some.” He even said that he’d recently forgotten about a basketball tattoo – “just a basketball, not like a cool, weird, trippy basketball” – he’d gotten on the back of his leg until he caught a glimpse of it. Rodgers has no tattoos, but Vernon suggested that “Maybe you when retire, you could get a like, a huge dragon on your back.” Rodgers was open to the idea… even suggesting a pair of dragons.
6. Aaron Rodgers Loves the Pickle
After Vernon incorrectly told Rodgers that The Pickle, the longtime Water Street bar in Vernon’s hometown of Eau Claire, had closed, the QB seemed mildly heartbroken. But the Pickle is still indeed in business and was fondly remember by both. At Vernon’s urging, Rodgers also pledged to check out the cross-street bar The Joynt, where Vernon’s parents met.