Linebacker Jack Sanborn: I understand why Bears fans are thrilled to see Aaron Rodgers go

Long before he played for the Bears, Sanborn was rooting for them while growing up in Lake Zurich.

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Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers drops back to pass in November.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers drops back to pass in November.

Rick Osentoski/AP

Long before he played for the Bears, linebacker Jack Sanborn was rooting for them while growing up in Lake Zurich.

He has watched Aaron Rodgers torture the Bears — and their fan base — for most of his 22 years. He rooted against Rodgers as a child and watched Packers games on TV as a standout at Wisconsin.

So, yes, Sanborn understands how Bears fans felt — in a word, thrilled — when the Packers agreed to trade Rodgers to the Jets on Monday.

That the trade was no surprise didn’t detract from the joy of Bears fans happy to watch Rodgers — who once claimed he owned the Bears — leave the NFC North. He was 25-5 as a starter against the Bears in the NFL’s oldest rivalry.

Rodgers, who said last month he wanted to be dealt to the Jets, got his wish.

‘‘I feel like that’s kind of been on the books now for a while,’’ Sanborn said. ‘‘Everyone was just waiting for the day. He’s obviously a great player. I know from many instances as a fan but also last year as a player. You know, a great player leaving Green Bay, going to New York.’’

Sanborn, who Tuesday was named the rookie recipient of the Brian Piccolo Award, was 10 when Rodgers defeated the Bears in the NFC title game at Soldier Field. He called it one of the first games he remembers.

‘‘When [Bears quarterback Jay] Cutler got hurt and . . . Rodgers is the quarterback there and then they went on to win the Super Bowl,’’ Sanborn said. ‘‘So I very well am aware about the rivalry and everything that comes with it.’’

Rodgers will be replaced by Jordan Love. It won’t be the same, but the rivalry will continue.

‘‘No matter who replaces him — or who doesn’t — it’s still an NFL-level quarterback who is going to come in,’’ Sanborn said. ‘‘Their goal is going to be to try to beat us, and our goal is going to be to try to beat them. . . .

‘‘[Rodgers] is a tremendous talent. We’ll see what he does in New York.’’

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