Monday, May 5, 2008

Packers: Brohm out to prove himself

Dennis Punzel 5/03/2008 8:45 am

GREEN BAY -- The irony didn't escape Brian Brohm. As an avowed "big Brett Favre fan," Brohm would've liked nothing better than to play on the same team. But he also knows that if Favre was still with the Packers, Brohm probably wouldn't be.

"That is kind of funny," said Brohm, whose new locker is just two down from Favre's vacant locker. "When I saw him retire I was disappointed. You never want to see a legend go out and stop playing. It never crossed my mind when he was retiring that I might end up in his roster spot, so to speak."

With Favre's retirement, however, the Packers were in the market for a quarterback and used one of their second round picks in last week's NFL draft to select Brohm. He's among the class of rookies here this weekend to begin the pro football careers.

And before he even thinks about following in the footsteps of Favre, Brohm wants to prove he's capable of backing up starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

"I just want to get the offense down and show the coaches what I can do and let them make all the judgments," said Brohm, a three-year starter at Louisville. "My goal right now is to be ready so that if I'm called upon I can go out there and execute the offense."

Brohm finished his career at Louisville with a Big East Conference record 10,775 passing yards and led the Cardinals to a 24-9 record as a starter. As a senior he completed 308 of 473 passes for 4,024 yards and 30 touchdowns.

However, it proved to be a costly season for Brohm, as many draft analysts figured he would've been an early first round pick had he entered the draft after his junior season. Instead, the Packers got him with the 56th pick.

But the Louisville native whose father and two older brothers all played football at Louisville, doesn't regret his decision.

"I just wanted to go back for my senior year," he said. "I loved playing for the University of Louisville. You only get one senior year and I wanted to go back and see what I could make happen. It obviously didn't go the way I wanted it to, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

"Nobody knows where I would've been taken if I had come out a year earlier. It's all speculation."

After leading Louisville to a 12-1 record in 2006, the Cardinals finished a disappointing 6-6 in Brohm's senior year. Along the way, scouts began to second guess their once glowing reports on the quarterback. They called him "robotic" and knocked his arm strength, mobility, durability and leadership skills. Still, he was projected by many to go late in the first round or early in the second.

Through it all, Brohm tried to ignore the scrutiny as much as possible.

"I really didn't listen to a whole lot of that," he said. "I just went out and tried to show teams what I had and I tried not to pay too much attention to the talk. I knew that was going to happen. They pick apart every player, trying to find holes in everybody.

"Once you get drafted it's all about playing football. All those other things the 40 yard dash times and whatever you can throw them out the window."

As for Brohm's leadership skills, at least one of his new teammates can dispel any doubts. That would be one of his old teammates, offensive tackle Breno Giacomini, who played with Brohm throughout his career at Louisville.

"Brian is a quiet leader," said Giacomini. "But all he has to do is step in the huddle and you zone in and listen to what he has to say. He's a great quarterback."

While Brohm is excited about being at Lambeau Field and starting his new career, there's a part of him that would like to be at another of America's sporting shrines -- Louisville's Churchill Downs.

"I'd rather be here, of course," he said. "But missing the Kentucky Derby is tough. I've gone every year for as long as I can remember. It's a big deal and a great tradition, but there's no place I'd rather be than here."

Even if one of his heroes is no longer around.