I usually love the smell of ESPN vs. ESPN crime in the morning. Today, I’ll have to settle for ACN vs. ESPN.
In an effort to explain why Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers suddenly is struggling, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com recently put together a list of five potential reasons for it.
The first four weren’t particularly controversial, or groundbreaking. Rodgers doesn’t have Jordy Nelson, teams are no longer jumping offside to give Rodgers free plays, coach Mike McCarthy isn’t calling the plays this season, and/or Rodgers may be injured. (Based on this week’s injury report, Rodgers is injured.)
The fifth one struck a nerve. Citing an unnamed agent who wonders when a client isn’t performing well whether “something is going on in his personal life,” Demovsky speculates as to whether Rodgers is having issues with his girlfriend, actress Olivia Munn.
“There’s no indication that Rodgers’ relationship status has changed. Lions reporters said they spotted Rodgers’ girlfriend, actress Olivia Munn, at Lambeau Field on Sunday,” Demovsky writes. “Sometimes it’s easy to forget that professional athletes have lives away from the field, and you never know what could be going on in their personal lives.”
Munn, who played a financial reporter for the fictional Atlantis Cable News in HBO’s The Newsroom, has responded to Demovsky’s article on Twitter.
“Playing it fast & loose w/the journalism @RobDemovsky,” Munn said. “Your professional skills are lacking… you must be having personal problems at home.”
Told by another Twitter user to not feed the trolls, Munn said, “The trolls can have their comments, it’s not them I’m calling out, it’s the journalists.”
On one hand, Rodgers is a public figure, who is engaging in a public and open relationship with another public figure. On the other hand, it’s a little much to look at Rodgers’ performance and say, “Gee, maybe he’s having problems with his actress girlfriend?” While hardly the worst of the speculation that has gurgled regarding Rodgers over the last two years (in December 2013, Rodgers went on the record to shoot down rumors regarding his sexuality), there’s a fundamental difference between questioning whether a guy is injured and wondering whether a guy is having relationship issues that are spilling over to the field.
Professional athletes have the same kind of personal issues as anyone else. In some cases, given the added stress of money and fame and not being home frequently, the personal issues are more intense. However, rarely if ever does anyone analyze a dip in a player’s performance by saying, “I wonder if he’s having problems at home.”
The fact that Demovsky felt compelled to add the views of an unnamed agent suggests that Demovsky realized he was treading on dangerous ground. Munn’s on-the-record reaction confirms it.
And now we’ll wait to see whether the column receives a post-publication “tighter edit.”