Green Bay Packers

Midweek Musings: Aaron Rodgers, the Great Distraction

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Week 1 against the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had arguably the worst performance of his career.

Bad games happen, even to the greats. There’s no reason to doubt that Rodgers will figure it out on the field sooner rather than later.

This isn’t to knock his play on the field though, so much as to critique his approach off of it.

Rodgers deserves credit for being the outspoken person that he is, even if you don’t necessarily agree with all of his opinions.

As NFL consumers, we yawn at player interviews that don’t offer anything but cliches and platitudes. Rodgers’ appearances on the Pat McAfee Show have become appointment television — or more appropriately-termed appointment YouTube streaming — for a reason. It’s rare to hear such candid conversation on a weekly basis from one of North America’s most famous athletes.

When Rodgers aired his grievances at the start of training camp, it was a breath of fresh air. Maybe you didn’t agree with each of his stances, but respect is warranted to a person that speaks his mind so concisely in the public sphere.

The problem is, in the month-plus since his eye-opening presser, Rodgers has kept talking. And talking. And talking. ….and talking.

Hello Aaron, the season is underway. There’s nothing to be gained from rehashing your issues with the Packers with Erin Andrews. We’ve heard your side of the story ad nauseam.

By continuing to return to the offseason gripes and by publicly embracing this Last Dance mantra, Rodgers is doing nothing but creating a distraction. Is generating distraction a form of leadership, a quality he claims to take such pride in? No, but it is a stunning lack of awareness.

Remember, this is the same quarterback who has said time and time again how much better the Packers play when they fly under the radar. Well Aaron, you’ve put a moon-sized spotlight on the Packers this year.

Fair or not, ridiculous or not, Rodgers’ play Week 1 play generated conversation that he doesn’t want to be in Green Bay right now. That he’s even sabotaging the season.

Such comments are silly. Players put themselves at too great a physical risk on weekly basis to purposefully perform poorly. But Rodgers invites those fallacies because of his continued transparency about his unhappiness.

Rodgers said in his postgame press conference Sunday that he has “nothing left to prove.” I disagree. After what we all endured for several months this offseason, it’s not hyperbolic to say 2021 will be a legacy-defining season.

The fact is, we’re going to learn a lot about Aaron Rodgers over the next 17 weeks (and hopefully longer). Dare I say he’s under the most pressure of anyone in the entire NFL this season.

From now on, when asked by anyone in the media, whether it be McAfee and his old buddy AJ Hawk or Dan Le Batard or Jason Wilde or whoever, to revisit things that happened in the summer months, Rodgers should politely decline to answer.

I trace back to another old Rodgers quote. Remember that scathing Bleacher Report article from 2019? In response to continued criticisms from former teammate Greg Jennings, Rodgers said this:

“At what point do you move on? You talk about me being sensitive and petty. At what point do you move on or stop saying the same stories? …At some point, you’ve gotta have something else to talk about.”

Rodgers should heed his own advice. His continued commentary not only proves those criticisms true, but comes dangerously close to hypocrisy.

The offseason is over, even if the drama might not be. But right now, Rodgers needs to talk less and play football.

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