GREEN BAY, Wis. — When Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford visited Lambeau Field ahead of the NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers gave him a tour of the locker room.
At that point, Aaron Rodgers‘ nameplate still hung atop the first locker to the right on the way in. Fast-forward to this week’s rookie minicamp and Clifford, a fifth-round pick, found himself standing in front of that same locker.
Only this time, the nameplate read “Clifford 8.”
Not only did he inherit Rodgers’ old locker, but he was assigned the jersey number that Rodgers will wear with the New York Jets.
Even before the Packers’ rookies hit the field for Friday’s first practice of minicamp, Clifford said he has been told a time or “probably over 10” about the locker.
Rookie QB Sean Clifford has already been told a time (or 10) who had his locker before him. (Hint: He now plays for the Jets, and it’s not Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Tim Boyle or Billy Turner) pic.twitter.com/r4MuleKxPp
— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) May 5, 2023
“Obviously I understand who was in here before and I respect everything about that,” Clifford said. “At the same time, I came in and I found my name on the plate and I sat down. I’m doing whatever it takes to win games here. I’m very appreciative of the opportunity. Green Bay has a guy who’s going to come in and give them their all, and I can promise that. I’m just trying to create my own legacy now and continue just to get better.”
Clifford’s locker is in a row that also included Rodgers’ replacement as the starter. Jordan Love‘s locker is four stalls over.
“It’s a locker to me, and I’m just excited to be in the locker room with these guys,” Clifford said. “As long as you see your name, right? That’s all that matters for me — just being in the NFL and having this opportunity, one that I’ve dreamed about for so long, and to have it as a reality, that’s all that matters.”
The backup job behind Love is wide open, and Clifford and returning practice-squad quarterback Danny Etling are the only contenders at this point. General manager Brian Gutekunst said after the draft that he had no immediate plans to sign a veteran because he wanted those three quarterbacks to get as many snaps as possible during the offseason program.
The 24-year-old Clifford, who is actually three months older than Love, spent six years at Penn State, where he set school records for quarterback wins (32), passing yards (10,661) and touchdown passes (86), among other marks.
“I feel like a rook, that’s for sure,” Clifford said. “I’m excited to be a rookie. I’m excited to be the young guy. I was the old guy for a while. Especially in college, I was leaving at 24 and I had 17-, 18-year-olds in not only the same room but around me that I need to rely on and teach.
“It’s nice to come in. … I get to ask so many questions. It is nice to grow because that’s what I plan on doing. I don’t plan on staying stagnant. I plan on learning from Jordan, learning from Danny and being able to pick the minds of everyone around me.”