GREEN BAY, Wisconsin- From starring in State Farm Insurance commercials to leading his team to a recent and unlikely 2013 NFC North Championship title, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers seems to be the “it” quarterback of this generation. Since winning Super Bowl XLV in 2010, Rodgers has become a household name and seen his stock rise among the ranks of elite quarterbacks in the highly competitive National Football League (NFL).
Off the field, Rodgers has separated himself from his peers by involving himself in global humanitarian efforts, including the Raise Hope for Congo campaign which promotes human rights for all Congolese citizens and aims at ending the ongoing conflict that continues to ravage the nation. Rodgers recently spoke about his passion for advocacy to a group of students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in hopes of creating awareness for Congo’s ongoing conflict mineral crisis.
“I remember sitting on the bus after we won [in Arlington, Texas], probably two hours after the game, thinking to myself, ‘I’m on top of the world. We just accomplished the most amazing goal in football.’ But I’m sitting there with a semi-empty feeling because I accomplished everything I wanted to do since I was a kid, and I kind of had a moment. I said to myself, ‘Is this it? Is there more to life than this?’ And the answer was resoundingly, ‘Yes.’ And that’s why I’m here tonight,” said Rodgers to a group of 1,500 college students on a cold Monday night.
Soon after his realization, Rodgers crossed paths with former Entourage actress Emmanuelle Chriqui, who helped start the Raise Hope for Congo campaign through the Enough Project roughly five years ago. Chriqui and Rodgers spoke to one another about the atrocities occurring in the Democratic Republic of Congo, “He was really interested. He’s like, ‘So tell me, what are you guys doing? What is this?’ I would share what I was learning (and) I remember having this conversation with Aaron, saying to him, ‘Did you know that in the Congo they use rape as a weapon of warfare? And he’s like, ‘No,’” said Chriqui.
Since then, Rodgers has not only educated himself about the ongoing genocide and political turmoil in the Congo, but has also made it a personal priority to spread his message to college campuses across the nation in hopes that students will pressure electronic firms to invest responsibly in the Congo’s mineral trade.
“Many of you in the crowd are holding your cellphones up,” Rodgers said a recent rally. “A device that I take everywhere with me that means a lot. It’s my lifeline to my friends, to my Candy Crush, to my Twitter account in the offseason. This is the heart, the lifeblood of these warlords. And we can say to these tech companies that we want to live in a world where our electronics do not fund rape and war. You can have an impact in a tangible way with something that’s your lifeline.”
Although Rodgers is currently busy leading his Green Bay Packers onto another long, hopeful playoff run, his hopes of visiting the Congo are as high as ever as he is tentatively planning a trip to the region in the offseason, “That’s the plan. I think it’s going to increase my resolve to get after this as long as I can, until there’s peace in the region and those people have a brighter future.”
– Jeffrey Scott Haley
Sources: ESPN, Politico, Raise Hope for Congo, The Enough Project
Photo: Go Deep Sports