EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a preview-only version of Aaron Rodgers' cover story in the September 2017 issue of Men's Fitness. For the full story, including exclusive content, pick up a copy on newsstands on Monday, August 7.

No matter what’s thrown at him—man-to-man coverage that smothers his receivers, a brother who acts like a jerk on national TV, a paparazzi blitz—Aaron Rodgers keeps a level head and stays the course.

It’s a pattern the 33-year-old Green Bay Packers quarterback and two-time NFL MVP has been running his whole life: rely on his laser focus, unshakable confidence, and unwavering patience to step up when his number’s called.

It’s his faith in himself that’s made him the star he is today—though not everyone saw that coming.

Who’s sorry now? Well, Jon Gruden, for one...

Above the desk of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden hangs a photo he says represents the greatest regret of his lifetime—passing on Rodgers in the 2005 NFL draft. It’s a shot of the two of them after a private predraft workout, joined by Jerry Rice, Rodgers’ surprise guest receiver for the day. Thirty other coaches likely harbor similar regrets.

Though projected as a top pick, Rodgers somehow rode a banana peel for the draft’s first 5 1/2 hours. Then Green Bay GM Ted Thompson waited out his full 15-minute decision period before he officially made Rodgers a Packer with the 24th pick.

Ever the optimist, Rodgers told ESPN it was the best day of his career—it was also a day that was years in the making.

In high school he spent countless mornings “waking up early to work out and staying after school to throw a football with coaches,” he says, keeping his competition in the back of his mind: “They might be better than me now, but I’m going to catch up and pass them because they’re not doing what I’m doing.”

For more about Rodgers' thoughts on his career and his future with the Packers, pick up the September issue of Men's Fitness on newsstands starting August 7, 2017. Also in this issue: The best NFL-themed tailgate dishes, how to build your abs in just five minutes, and how to find the best doctor in your area.