Soccer physics: Green Bay Aaron Rodgers got tips from astronaut Mark Kelly

Jan 8, 2017; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) throws a pass against the New York Giants in the first half in the NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Lambeau Field. (Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)

(USA Today Sports)

Advice from an astronaut might have helped the Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers are perfect Hail Mary technique.

Rodgers is the modern master of this long-distance desperation heave: He’s thrown three Hail Mary touchdown passes in the past 13 months, including one at the end of the first half last week, in the Packers’ first-round play-off victory over the New York Giants.

Rodgers and his teammates have said that he tends to throw his Hail Mary goes higher than other quarterbacks do — a strategy that former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, a veteran of four space shuttle missions, would have helped him in conceiving.

Kelly, Rodgers, and entrepreneur Kevin O’leary on the game show “Celebrity Jeopardy!”; their episode aired in May 2015. (Rodgers came out on top, winning the $50,000 for the charity.) After getting to know Kelly, Rodgers picked up the astronaut in the brain about the hail mary, and physics, according to Sports Illustrated.

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“Kelly says and Rodgers confirms that they discussed the height and trajectory and factors such as wind and cold. This was a heavy conversation for a round of golf,” Sports Illustrated reported Jan. 13.

“His Hail Mary pass as a spaceship re-entering the job,” Kelly told Sports Illustrated. “We should start calling it the ‘Hail Rodgers.'”

“Timing is everything, and fortunately, it is so cold in Green Bay there is not significant re-entry heating,” Kelly added. “I’m kidding, of course.”

Rodgers and the Packers take on the Dallas Cowboys Sunday (Jan. 15) in the second round of the NFL play-offs. (The Cowboys have a central place in Hail Mary lore; then-Dallas quarterback Roger Staubach coined the term after throwing a game-winning touchdown in the 1975 play-offs.)

Kelly flew his space shuttle missions in 2001, 2006, 2008 and 2011. The 2011 flight, which he commanded, was the last mission of the shuttle Endeavour.

Mark Kelly’s identical twin brother Scott, also a former NASA astronaut. Scott Kelly, together with cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, recently flew for the first time a one-year mission aboard the International Space Station. Mark Kelly has participated in this mission, albeit from the ground; Mark has provided researchers with biological samples to help them to assess how long-duration spaceflight may have affected Scott’s DNA.

Mark Kelly, retired NASA astronaut corps in 2011, and Scott followed in 2016.

You can read the full Sports Illustrated story here:


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