Aaron Rodgers clarifies his media complaints, but he’s still missing the point
On Tuesday, Aaron Rodgers took a shotgun approach to those in the media who dared to question his commitment to the Packers. On Wednesday, he tried to use a sniper rifle.
He still missed the mark.
“I do want to maybe rephrase or refocus what I said,” Rodgers told reporters on Wednesday. “I strongly believe in everybody’s ability to have an opinion. And I respect the fact that they have an opinion and should have an opinion. My issue is a platform given to individuals who only desire to say inflammatory things that are not based in fact.”
Rodgers confuses opinion and fact. Opinions arise from the available facts. It’s fine to disagree with those opinions, but if they reasonably and plausibly emerge from the available facts, they’re not irresponsible opinions.
Here are the known and undisputed facts. (For these purposes, I’ll leave out the reported facts that may or may not be disputed, such as the belief that the Packers promised to trade Rodgers and then reneged or the report that he wanted G.M. Brian Gutekunst to be fired.) One, Rodgers showed up for nothing with the Packers from the end of the 2020 season until the start of the 2021 training camp. Two, he boycotted the team’s mandatory minicamp. Three, he wanted to be traded. Four, he considered retiring. Five, he entered the weekend before the start of camp viewing retirement as a 50-50 possibility. Six, after he showed up, he unloaded on the organization with his various frustrations regarding the way the franchise has been operated and managed, from a personnel standpoint. Seven, he openly discussed his offseason desire to be traded and his contemplation of retirement in an interview with Erin Andrews of Fox Sports that played in the pregame show prior to the first Sunday of the season. Eight, the Packers and Rodgers looked awful against the Saints in Week One.
It is entirely fair and reasonable for people who comment on the NFL for a living to look at those facts and to attempt to draw a link between his desire to be traded, his serious contemplation of retirement, and the team’s performance in the first game of the season. It is a proper and permissible opinion to have, even if it’s ultimately not the right opinion. Could reasonable minds differ on that question? Yes. But it’s entirely reasonable to attribute the horrific season-opening game to the unpredictable offseason driven by the Green Bay quarterback’s desire to be traded and, failing that, a notion to retire that was only resolved as the clock was in the process of ringing twelve times.
Rodgers understandably doesn’t like those opinions. But there are sufficient facts on which those opinions can be based. Do the people expressing those opinions have access to all the facts? No. Who ever does? There are enough facts to make those opinions not hot takes or outlandish or otherwise aimed at generating some sort of click-fest or whatever he seems to think media outlets that hope to make it 20 years or longer would do for a short-term dopamine rush, at the risk of blowing the long-term interests of the business.
The fact that he has a different opinion doesn’t make the opinions of others wrong. Really, what would Rodgers say during a press conference if, deep down, he’s really not committed? If, deep down, he really doesn’t want to be there? If, deep down, he wishes he’d resolved his coin-flip on whether to retire or play the other way?
He’d never admit it. And so those of us who comment on the NFL must make our assessments accordingly. It’s fair, based on the undisputed facts, to question his commitment. It’s also possibly dead-on balls accurate that he’s counting the days and weeks until he can finally move on to a different team.