- A new report says several people who work or have worked with the Green Bay Packers find Aaron Rodgers difficult and partially to blame for the team’s recent struggles.
- According to the report, some blame Rodgers’ handling of relationships, saying he freezes people out and never lets them back in.
- Some reportedly think Rodgers’ strained relationship with his family could be affecting him.
- Others said Rodgers’ tendency to hold onto grudges and obsess over criticism has affected his leadership.
- Plenty of current and former Packers sources in the report stuck up for Rodgers.
Aaron Rodgers is widely regarded as the most talented quarterback in the NFL, but some around the Green Bay Packers apparently think the team has been adversely affected by his personality off the field.
In a deep dive on the Packers by Bleacher Report’s Tyler Dunne published on Thursday, several former teammates, coaches, front-office members, and friends described Rodgers as tough to work with and manage.
According to people who spoke with Dunne, most of it comes from Rodgers’ handling of relationships.
Dunne said some had wondered whether Rodgers’ strained relationship with his family had affected his psyche. The report said that when Mike McCarthy, the former Packers head coach, once suggested that Rodgers call his mother, Rodgers did not listen.
“When you’re out, you’re out,” a source Dunne described as a “former friend” said of Rodgers’ handling of relationships.
Similarly, some told Dunne that Rodgers was ruthless in his handling of other players.
Greg Jennings, a former Packers receiver, told Dunne that his exit from Green Bay was unglamorous and resulted in a total cutoff from Rodgers.
Jennings recalled that he was speaking to a San Francisco 49ers player about his contract year in 2012 when Rodgers told the 49ers player that they should sign Jennings in the offseason, offering few hints that it was a joke.
Jennings said that when the offseason came, he didn’t hear from Rodgers. Years later, when he returned to the Packers as a member of the media, Rodgers didn’t speak to him.
According to Dunne, the issues have affected players on the roster. One former scout said Rodgers used to “dog” Jeff Janis, a former tight end, for no apparent reason.
“Janis got into the doghouse really quick, and he just never let him out,” the former scout told Dunne. “He didn’t even give the kid a chance.”
According to Dunne’s sources, rookie wide receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown both ran into frustrations last year over whether to listen to McCarthy’s play calls or Rodgers’ – St. Brown sometimes listened to Rodgers and then got in trouble with McCarthy, while Valdes-Scantling followed McCarthy’s orders and saw his targets drop, thinking Rodgers froze him out.
A source who Dunne said was once close to Rodgers said: “Of course, it comes to a head, and what does he want to do? He wants to cut him out of his life, just like he cut his family out.”
Some people around the team reportedly think Rodgers’ ego is driven by a tendency to hold onto grudges and use them to fuel his performances.
According to Dunne’s sources, Rodgers never got over McCarthy taking quarterback Alex Smith over him in the 2005 draft, when McCarthy was with the 49ers, and used to needle McCarthy over the decision.
Others said Rodgers would listen to every negative piece of press and hold onto it, with one source telling Dunne that Rodgers is “real sensitive.”
Reacting to the report on Friday, the former NFL player Marcus Spears said on ESPN’s “Get Up”: “There is a recurring theme in this conversation around Aaron Rodgers: Aaron Rodger is toxic. If it wasn’t for his talent level, we would probably have a different view and conversation about Aaron Rodgers.”
Not everyone agrees with the criticisms
Plenty of people who spoke with Dunne stuck up for Rodgers.
Of Rodgers’ overriding McCarthy’s offence, several of Dunne’s sources said that McCarthy’s offence was outdated and unimaginative and that Rodgers had to freestyle to move the ball.
A former coach told Dunne: “You give a guy a green light to do whatever he wants and then criticise him for it. Which one do you want? Do you want him to be creative, or do you want him to be exactly what you tell him?”
Others said Rodgers’ handling of teammates was less personal and more about his desire to see players work as hard as him. Dunne compared it to Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, two ruthless workers who had little time for players who didn’t match their intensity.
A former Packers personnel employee told Dunne that Rodgers is far from a bad guy – he’s just “different.”
Some people who spoke with Dunne said Rodgers might not be a natural leader and had struggled to fill the leadership void left by veteran players who departed in recent years. And while that has seemingly led to some bumps in the road, some said they didn’t think Rodgers had bad intentions.
The Packers hired Matt LaFleur as their new head coach this offseason, reportedly without Rodgers’ input. According to Dunne, the team wanted a young head coach who could challenge players, including Rodgers.
The results on the field and the resulting drama off it (or lack thereof) could go a long way in further shaping Rodgers’ legacy and reputation.
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