CLEVELAND — Tessa Schneider leaned against a fence near FirstEnergy Stadium Thursday and peered at the stage set up for the NFL draft.
Hoping, it seemed, that no one noticed her.
“I’m embarrassed,’’ she said. “Everyone keeps yelling at me.’’
They were yelling because she was wearing a Green Bay Packers jersey, and they were shouting about the potentially grim Packers news: Aaron Rodgers, the Packers MVP quarterback, wants out of Green Bay.
Pete Zuehlke, sporting a Packers T-shirt, looked weary as fans of other teams kept asking him for Rodgers updates.
“I’ve started telling everybody, ‘I just got off the phone with (Rodgers). He’s fine. There’s no truth to it,’” Zuehlke said.
Eventually, the draft commenced Thursday night, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell yanked back the narrative. But make no mistake — the rumors about Rodgers generated a buzz among the thousands of fans who converged here on a cold and rainy night.
Tyler Bruno, wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers jersey, was delighted to hear the chatter and said he would gladly ship out Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, 39, to make room for Rodgers, 37. Never mind that Bruno was wearing a jersey with Roethlisberger’s name and No. 7 on the back, and that Roethlisberger has won two Super Bowls with the Steelers.
“I mean, Ben’s on his last year,’’ Bruno said. “We’ll love him forever. But if Aaron Rodgers becomes available for the Steelers, we’ll take him.”
Devante Coats looked just as gleeful when asked whether he would give up Patriots quarterback Cam Newton for Rodgers.
“It would be a great situation, seeing that if (Rodgers) had something to prove, what better way to prove something than in a Patriots uniform?’’ said Coats, who was wearing a Patriots jersey with Newton’s name and No. 1 on the back.
Nathan Hagstrom, a Las Vegas Raiders fan, said he’d gladly dump Raiders quarterback David Carr for Rodgers. Even though — that’s right — Hagstrom was wearing a Raiders jersey with Carr’s name and No. 8 on the back.
Not far away, three Packers fans clustered. Each wore a Packers jersey with Rodgers’ name and No. 12 on the back. If they were grieving, it was the stage of denial.
“I mean, what team is he going to go to?’’ Chris Ringfield asked.
A posse of San Francisco 49ers fans gamboled toward the draft stage but stopped long enough to make their feelings clear about the idea of Rodgers playing for the 49ers.
“We’ll give up that No. 3 pick (Thursday) and Jimmy Garoppolo and a second- and third-round pick, too,’’ Marlon Valentine said before heading toward the stage.