GREEN BAY — How do you recuperate from collarbone surgery and keep your sanity while away from the game you love?
You find a rental property on the Pacific Ocean, read a New York Times best-seller on the beach and hope that the surgery to repair your fractured clavicle allows you to get back before football season ends.
At least, that’s what Aaron Rodgers was doing Thursday, a week after having screws surgically inserted into the collarbone he broke during an Oct. 14 loss at Minnesota — an injury that could sideline him for the rest of the year.
Reached via text message Thursday morning, the Green Bay Packers quarterback said he still isn’t sure whether he’ll be able to return this season. But the two-time NFL MVP said he’ll return to Green Bay on Monday and confirmed that he had the screws inserted in his right collarbone during his Oct. 19 surgery in Southern California.
In a taped appearance on TBS’ “Conan” that aired Thursday night, Rodgers told host Conan O’Brien during the “Clueless Gamer” segment that doctors used “13 screws” to repair his collarbone, which he injured when he was tackled by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr after throwing a pass during the first quarter of the Packers’ 23-10 loss at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Wearing a sling on his right (throwing) arm and with a bandage showing beneath his black shirt, Rodgers told O’Brien, “I rolled out to my right, I threw the ball and I got tackled and kind of slammed on the ground. But I’m good now. Thirteen screws later and here I am.”
Thursday morning, Rodgers wouldn’t say exactly how many screws were inserted into the collarbone, joking, “It’s TV. Sometimes you exaggerate. And then sometimes, you tell the truth.”
Rodgers, who makes his offseason home in Southern California, has been staying in the Los Angeles area convalescing following surgery. In a text Thursday morning, he said he’s passing the time “reading ‘Into the Wild’ with my feet in the sand at the beach, recovering.” He said he’ll return to Green Bay on Monday, a day before his teammates return to practice on Tuesday.
The Packers return to game action on Nov. 6 against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on “Monday Night Football.”
The Packers put Rodgers on injured reserve on Oct. 20, although that doesn’t necessarily mean his season is over. NFL rules allow teams to bring back a maximum of two players from injured reserve during the season, but those players cannot practice for six weeks and cannot play in a game for eight weeks.
Rodgers has another four weeks to wait to practice and won’t be eligible to play in a game until the Packers’ Dec. 17 game at Carolina at the earliest. After that, the Packers close the season at home against the Vikings on Dec. 23 and at Detroit on Dec. 31.
Rodgers and the Packers are hoping the team will remain in playoff contention with backup Brett Hundley as the starter, giving Rodgers a chance to play again this season if his collarbone heals quickly enough. The Packers were 4-1 at the time of Rodgers’ injury, but lost to the Vikings after Rodgers’ departure and then lost, 26-17, to the New Orleans Saints last Sunday in their first game without Rodgers.
At 4-3 with nine games to play after their bye, if the Packers are out of the playoff hunt, there’s no reason for Rodgers to push to return before season’s end.
When Rodgers broke his left collarbone in 2013, he missed seven games and returned for the regular-season finale at Chicago, throwing a game-winning, fourth-down 48-yard touchdown pass in the final minute to beat the Bears and send the Packers into the playoffs as the NFC North champions at 8-7-1.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said earlier this week that there’s no set timeline for how quickly Rodgers’ collarbone will heal or how soon he might be cleared to return. McCarthy said the “worst-case scenario” is that Rodgers will not play again this season.