Many would think Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers would be all smiles after leading his team to a dominant 31-12 win against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at Lambeau Field.
Yet Rodgers — who went 19 of 28 for 199 yards and threw two touchdowns — was the opposite. His thoughts were back in his home state, where multiple wildfires and a mass shooting affected millions more than 2,000 miles away.
Rodgers grew up in Chico, California, and played for Butte Community College and California before entering the NFL, and owns a home just north of San Diego. So, naturally, Rodgers offered his support to those affected by the Camp Fire in Northern California and the Woolsey Fire in Southern California to start his news conference on Sunday, while wearing a Santa Monica Fire Department hat.
“It’s been a rough week. It has,” Rodgers said, via the NFL Network. “I’ve been on the phone with a lot of folks close to me in Northern California and Southern California. I had the fortune to meet some great firefighters from Santa Monica in the offseason. They sent me this hat and as I was thinking at my house today, this was the only kind of paraphernalia that I have that could represent my support for those folks who are fighting the fires.
“Obviously, my heart goes out to the great people of Paradise, California. Growing up in Chico and spending a great deal of time up there, I played a lot of football and basketball and sports up in Paradise. Basically lived in Magalia at one point, which is kind of an even tinier town off of Paradise and the devastation there is tough. Hearing the stories of people running down the highways to avoid the fire. Knowing that people burned alive in their cars, it’s heartbreaking for sure. And then, you have a fire in my adopted home of Southern California. So it’s been a tough week for sure.
“Myself and the guys from Southern California and Northern California, obviously our thoughts and our prayers are with those folks. Not only the great firefighters fighting the fire, but all the people displaced in my home area of Butte County and obviously down south in the L.A. area.”
The Camp Fire in Northern California grew to 111,000 acres on Sunday, has caused more than 52,000 people to evacuate the region, and claimed 29 lives by Sunday afternoon. Officials estimated on Sunday that the fire — which completely wiped out the town of Paradise — is only 25 percent contained. It has already burned nearly 7,000 buildings and is the most destructive single fire in state history.
The Woolsey Fire has burned over 83,000 acres in Southern California as of Sunday morning. It has forced more than 200,000 residents to evacuate their homes throughout the area just northwest of Los Angeles — including all of Malibu — and claimed two lives. As of Sunday, it was only 10 percent contained.
The Hill Fire, the smallest of the three, has covered more than 4,500 acres and is 75 percent contained as of Sunday.
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