Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has broken his silence. In a major way.
Appearing on radio with Jason Wilde and Mark Tauscher of ESPN Milwaukee, Rodgers decried last week’s exhaustive article from Tyler Dunne of BleacherReport.com as a “smear attack.”
Here’s the full money quote, from Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com: “This was a smear attack by a writer looking to advanced his career talking with mostly irrelevant, bitter players who all have an agenda whether they’re advancing their own careers or just trying to stir old stuff up.”
Rodgers specifically addressed two specific aspects of Dunne’s report, including one that as of Friday afternoon was destined to be handled by Rodgers.
“The two main things I think I really want to talk about and just clear up, which are really central themes to the article, the first is the [Packers CEO] Mark Murphy conversation because part of the article seems to want to say the Packers are worried about me as the leader of the football team moving forward,” Rodgers said. “And before I get into what actually happened in the conversation with Mark, I want to say two things: One, if they knew that, why would they offer me a contract last year? And two, which goes into my second central thesis point that I’m going to take down, is if I really disliked Mike [McCarthy] so much, why would I re-sign knowing that if I play and we do what we do around here -- we made the playoffs eight straight years and then I got hurt and we missed the playoffs -- it’s going to be me and Mike my entire career. So if I really disliked him that much, do you think I’d re-sign. Is the money that important to me? I’ll tell you it’s not. Quality of life is important.”
Via Tom Pelissero of NFL Media, Rodgers said that the report that Murphy told Rodgers “don’t be the problem” is “ridiculous” and “100 percent false.”
As to Rodgers’ reported rift with former Packers coach Mike McCarthy, the quarterback admitted that they “had issues,” but he said that those issues always got resolved and he denied a grudge dating back to the 2005 draft, when McCarthy and the 49ers passed on Rodgers. Rodgers also made a plea for positive treatment of McCarthy in the community.
“I think we need to honor Mike and respect him the right way,” Rodgers said, via Demovsky. “We had a hell of a run. We had 13 years, four NFC championships, one Super Bowl, eight straight playoffs, 19 straight wins. . . . So, instead of trashing this guy on the way out, let’s remember the amazing times that we had together. Packer fans, remember this, especially those of you who live in Green Bay: Mike lives here. Mike has young kids here. So Mike has to be here. Think about how difficult it is for him. My favor that I would ask of you, strongly, is if you see Mike, shake his hand. Tell him thanks for the memories. Tell him thanks for the coaching job that he did. Tell him how much you appreciate him being a part of what we built here. Things change from ‘06 to ‘18. We came off of a bad season in ‘05 and we built something special and had sustained success, so instead of trashing this guy on the way out -- last year was tough, no doubt about it -- but let’s honor him and his legacy as the second-winningest coach in Packers history. If you see him, please, just show him the respect that he deserves. Not only does he have to live in Green Bay, he wants to. He loves it here. He’s going to be here. So, if you see him, do him that favor and show him the respect that he deserves.”
Rodgers expressed regret for publicly complaining about the team’s offense after a lackluster win over the Bills.
“I wish I hadn’t said anything after the Bills game last year,” Rodger said, via Demovsky. “I wish I had just gotten with him in person. I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful to him but I know how it came off. That’s what I told him when I met with him face to face.”
Rodgers opted to address these issues not via the shotgun feeding frenzy of a press conference or locker-room scrum, but in a radio interview that was conducive to a more reasoned and deliberate conversation, with Rodgers able to address all items that he wanted to cover. While that doesn’t mean the issues won’t be rehashed if/when Rodgers meets with reporters during the first week of the team’s offense program, much of the ground already has been covered.