Aaron Rodgers: NFL players fear repercussions from league for speaking out

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When Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett criticized NFL players for not speaking out the way their basketball brethren did, the focus quickly went to the way he criticized (and then apologized to) Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

But one other player Bennett mentioned in that diatribe was Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but that was in passing, identifying him and Peyton Manning primarily as members of the white establishment.

And Rodgers admits, athletes using their voice for social change isn’t as prevalent in his league, largely because that’s the way his league wants it.

During an appearance on ESPN Wisconsin’s “Wilde and Tausch,” Rodgers was asked if NBA players were more able to speak their minds, he agreed quickly.

“One-hundred percent. And I think it starts with leadership,” Rodgers said. “I think [NBA commissioner Adam Silver] has done a good job promoting that type of environment. And I think some guys in the NFL are probably worried about repercussions on speaking their mind from the league.”

And Rodgers was willing to admit that he’s as guilty of that as anyone.

“Those guys are doing it and they feel comfortable doing it,” Rodgers said. “I think if more guys maybe did in our league, it would create a domino effect possibly.”

Of course, not every player in the league wants to go to the length to educate themselves on a topic so their voice is more than noise. And many players will still do anything they can to avoid being controversial. Yesterday’s GQ story on Cam Newton portrayed the Panthers quarterback as more Michael Jordan than Muhammad Ali, when he said we were “beyond that. As a nation,” when asked about racism.

Keeping the shield clean makes a player appear more safe, thus more marketable. And some are going to choose that path.

Rodgers had an immediate chance to put his voice to use in his own community. After the interview in question, a police-involved shooting in Milwaukee led to riots over the weekend.

“I don’t know the specifics about it, but I do know that our heart goes out to those affected down there,” Rodgers said. “This is a connected world. Anytime there’s a disconnect like that, it’s disappointing to see. Our thoughts and our prayers go with all of those affected, and we hope that the violence doesn’t continue down there.”

It was a thoughtful, yet responsible statement. And because it didn’t fan the flames or take any point of view outside the mainstream, that makes it perfectly digestible for the league.

62 responses to “Aaron Rodgers: NFL players fear repercussions from league for speaking out

  1. I don’t care what athletes, actors, musicians (unless that’s there thing i.e. Rage Against The Machine, Chuck D or Jello Biafra) have to say about any social issues. I turn to them to get away from all of that stuff. Many NFL players are functional illiterate anyway and had no business wasting someone else’s earned spot in college.

  2. Whats to be afraid of?

    Goodell is wonderful remember? That’s what all the haters kept saying about Framegate. Now just live with him, this is your new NFL. Welcome to Goodell’s kingdom

  3. He is right. There is not quite a gag order but there is a fear to speak because NFL players get fined for just about anything. To compare it to the NBA is a little skewed because they have many less players to “manage”.

  4. All the league really cares about is money….any and every move, spoken or unspoken is about putting more $ in the owners pockets…..Goodell will back social issues as long as it doesn’t hurt the bottom line.

  5. It’s great to see Rodgers tremendous leadership being expanded from the field and into the community. Sometimes tragedy is the result of violence. Other times it is the result of incompetence.

    No community should tolerate incompetence.

  6. Let me get this straight. Players such as Rogers are afraid to speak out due to the potential of unexplained repercussions from the NFL; however, Rogers is not afraid of repercussions for speaking out about the potential for repercussions.

    I am sick of The Aaron Rogers woe is me diatribes.

  7. Go ahead. Run your mouth and you’ll be next for conduct detrimental and suspended. Mine as well keep going till all marquee players on marquee teams aren’t playing to give the bottom feeder teams a chance to win some titles.

  8. Yea well the league fears players cheating…

    If you wanna cheat and get away with it, go play baseball or ride a bike….

    Jeez I’m so sick of this entitlement generation thinking they can make mistakes and not pay for them…. everyone makes them, just own up to them, learn from them, and don’t repeat them…. Don’t break the law of the land and you don’t have to worry about imaginary repercussions….

  9. The demographics are quite different for NFL and NBA players. Also, Judging by what I read on PFT, I would say it’s the fans who hate it when players speak out about issues. If the fans hate it, the league probably doesn’t want it. How would people feel if the league ignored the fans? By the way, which league has the Rooney Rule? Maybe Aaron is just likes to talk. Probably a good thing players don’t say much, especially if they don’t know what they’re talking about half the time.

  10. Hmmm… perhaps there are no flames to fan. Ever think of that? Gosh the liberal media sucks. Even bringing that stupid story up is irrisponsible.

    As for Newton, you ever consider that it’s possible that he believes what he said. It’s racist to assume that becuase he’s black, he has to believe that racism is the reason for his dislike. I know one thing, he garnered my respect with that statement.

  11. as well they should…the genie is out of the bottle now and all you people praising Hire Goodell as he suspended one of the greatest ever to play the game, with no proof, will see the repercussions on your favorite player/team soon. The NFL has carte blanche to do as it wants. It always did but now has a commissioner thats likes to wield this power. We are heading straight for a lockout/strike.

  12. “keep it clean boys, don’t have an opinion on anything.
    We need to make MONEY!!!”

    Here’s an idea; why doesn’t everyone stop buying NFL gear.
    Then we can have market by market, city by city “Jersey Burning” ceremony,.

    All of he fools who shelled $100+ to purchase an official NFL sanctioned and branded jersey, can throw them all in a pile and torch them along with Goodell effigies.
    Get it on video, (from multiple angles) and post them on line.

    Come together NFL fans and show solidarity against the Goodell Gestapo

  13. Rodgers said. “I think if more guys maybe did in our league, it would create a domino effect possibly.”

    Translation: Somebody else go first.

  14. Goodell wants everyone to be afraid of him, instead of being a more objective commissioner. I guess Goodell will be gunning for AR now. Could be a long season for my Pack with Mathews/ Peppers maybe getting suspended.

  15. Big PACK guy here. Just an idea Rogers, you’re my boy but maybe focus more on not chocking in the playoffs and overtime games. And not so much on the off the field stuff. Take a tip from my boy Ed Lacey, he worked hard and now he’s slim and trim! Just my 9 cents. GO PACK

    >

  16. It amazes me how out of touch professional athletes are from the real world. In the real world the employer pays the employee to do a job. If they are a detriment to the company or don’t do their job they lose their job. If they are an asset to the company they get promoted and paid well. I think that applies to the NFL also.

    As much as players think that voicing their opinion on a social issue is relevant it is not. They are football players and their celebrity does not by itself bring influence. On one hand they want to speak out on the other “I am not a role model.”

    It is the thoughtful players that work in the community and lead by their actions that have influence. Some are top tier players but many are rank and file.

    Their are many ways to express opinion and address social issues afforded to the players.

    Hiding behind some big fear about repercussions is just bull*hi*.

    How many take to twitter and the only repercussion is making a complete fool of themselves?

  17. What do you expect with a corrupt, lying little worm like Goodell in charge?

    The league and commissioner have zero morals, zero ethics, don’t care anything about things like domestic violence and certainly don’t care about other social issues.

    There is one and only one thing that matters to them, money. Its clear they consider fans as nothing more than sheep who generate revenue.

  18. I really dislike Rodgers, but he is correct in saying one thing, the NFL does not want its players to speak out and take sides on controversial subjects because for every side, there is another side that the NFL is afraid of alienating. The NFL is a slippery organization that so much tries to please everyone and is finding they are really pleasing no one in their fan base.

    The funny part is, the NFL is successful despite the owners and commissioner, not because of them, which is exactly opposite for most successful organizations. They are riding a wave of unprecedented popularity and quite frankly, I don’t think any of them have the knowledge of how to do it correctly, which is evident from the infighting.

    Who is to say the NFL would be more or less successful if they chose a different model than what they are using, but I do know that owners are literally rolling in cash and the league is making money faster than they can print it. The only way the NFL will change how it operates, is if they start losing money.

  19. We all know this is the case. The trouble is that too often it is viewed as rich spoiled athletes complaining. If you ever saw Earl Campbell today, or countless other NFL players, struggle to walk or to piece together sentences, you would see that the price to play the game is too high. But when players speak out, it reflects negatively on them, not the league.

  20. It’s impossible to read another person’s mind, of course. I don’t think Cam was speaking safely to maximize his marketability. I believe his statement, “we’ve moved past that, as a nation” was more along the lines of being critical / questioning of black quarterbacks. Back when Warren Moon was emerging, the dumb people in charge of teams actually thought black men were too stupid to be QBs. No one thinks that anymore, thanks to the success of Moon, Doug Williams, Cam, Russell Wilson and others. That’s what, as a nation, we have moved past.

    As for Rodgers, I agree with him. The NBA doesn’t have a commissioner who has declared himself to be God the way the NFL does. And now that the courts have agreed that the NFL commissioner’s self-declaration of being God is reasonable, no one really wants to say anything that might run afoul of the whims of he who has declared himself to be God.

  21. So players have to watch everything they say for fear of the mad dictator Goodell coming down on them?? What a joke. Goodell has destroyed this league, throwing his weight around on things he knows nothing about, just to let the players know that he’s the boss and he can crush them just like he railroaded and framed Brady. The NFL has no credibility left in my eyes. I’ll find something else to do on Sundays rather than support a league gone mad.

  22. Maybe it’s just me but I turn to sports to get away from all the darkness in today’s society. Not to disparage these young men, but athletes are the last people I would turn to for guidance in societal matters.

  23. Big PACK guy here. Just an idea Rogers, you’re my boy but maybe focus more on not chocking in the playoffs and overtime games.
    —————–

    You must have missed the past 7 years of playoffs and overtime games. Wow. And you claim to be a Packers fan.

  24. “Aaron Rodgers: NFL players fear repercussions from league for coming out”

    There, fixed it for you.

  25. Rodgers had an immediate chance to put his voice to use in his own community. After the interview in question, a police-involved shooting in Milwaukee led to riots over the weekend.

    “I don’t know the specifics about it, but I do know that our heart goes out to those affected down there,” Rodgers said. “This is a connected world. Anytime there’s a disconnect like that, it’s disappointing to see. Our thoughts and our prayers go with all of those affected, and we hope that the violence doesn’t continue down there.”

    It was a thoughtful, yet responsible statement. And because it didn’t fan the flames or take any point of view outside the mainstream, that makes it perfectly digestible for the league.

    —————————————————-

    I have no love for Rodgers, but what did you want him to say? As a “reporter” if you want an opinion of the situation in Milwaukee, ask a sociologist, criminologist or better yet, go to North Milwaukee yourself and form your own. Ask Rodgers about training camp, the upcoming season or UFOs…things he would have an expert opinion on instead of looking for something to take out of context and tear him apart for the sake of a few clicks. There will never be another Ali, so stop expecting it. The cult of celebrity is out of hand…entertainers are not leaders nor should they be expected to be. Good on Aaron for taking a knee on this one…stop feeding the media and they will die.

  26. tonebones says:
    Aug 16, 2016 7:35 AM

    The demographics are quite different for NFL and NBA players.

    I think the difference isn’t demographics as much as it is power.
    The same economic power from a single player being a much bigger part of a much smaller team that makes NBA players much better paid.

  27. Cam Newton gave his opinion and got lambasted by the media because it went counter to what the media decrees black men should think.

  28. Like Hollywood moguls, the league’s billionaire owners hide behind a screen of liberal causes because it makes them huge amounts of money. That’s all, just money. Anything that threatens that will be sanctioned.

  29. If you believe all of these “national tragedies” are real, I have an ocean in my backyard….. in Oklahoma.

    CRISIS ACTORS and GREEN SCREENS!!!

  30. Its incredible that someone as passionless as ARod is a NFL QB…dude doesnt care about his family, doesnt care about fans, doesnt care about any social issues.

    Maybe dude is sweet, and he trying to stay lowkey so he doesnt get outted.

  31. Rodgers is probably right- I’d like to see a player criticize the China move and China’s terrible human rights record.

    Newton is kind of right; I think I know what he meant on racism. As a cursory glance at the dark underbelly of the internet would show, we are not “beyond that as a nation.” But as Americans, are we better than that? Yes, most of us do believe in human rights, justice, and equality, and believe in a society that aspires to these things and also the extinction of bigotry and racism.

  32. Of all guys to worry about repercussions. Rogers admits to cheating to the media and that Bozo Troy Vincent says there’s no punishment necessary because he didn’t say it immediately before, during or after a game. This guy is the new Peyton Manning, the anointed one. I wondered who’d assume Mannings mantle. Question answered.

  33. “I don’t know the specifics about it, but I do know that our heart goes out to those affected down there,” Rodgers said. “This is a connected world. Anytime there’s a disconnect like that, it’s disappointing to see. Our thoughts and our prayers go with all of those affected, and we hope that the violence doesn’t continue down there.”

    —————————

    If Rogers didn’t know the specifics, he gave the correct response as people commenting on things that they don’t really know, or things they are refusing to see the facts about leads to mob behavior.

    However, I do kind of find it hard to believe the Rogers doesn’t know what happened.

    I agree that NFL players do seems to fear repercussions from the league and EVEN MORE from the public. When look at Rogers situation specifically, I think that there is another angle that no one wants to talk about.

    The majority of the league is African American. And while I am not saying that African Americans are blind to the facts of the Milwaukee situation, statistically speaking I would bet that it is more likely to find someone in a room full of African Americans that would completely ignore what happened and think that the cops just mowed a kid down in cold blood .

    Playing Devils advocate and going on the notion that Rogers gave a PC answer and he knew more than he was letting on and he had a strong opinion – If he went up there and said ———-

    ” Look any loss of life is horrible and tragic, especially when it’s a young person, but when you run from the police when you are in possession of a stolen handgun, then as the police are chasing you, you turn around with the gun in your hand and start to raise it at the police officer, then that police officer has a duty and right to protect himself. I understand people being upset about a 23 year old kid being killed, but when the event is actually caught on the police officers body camera and that footage completely supports what happened, people need to accept the facts and understand that setting their own neighborhood on fire and destroying local businesses will do nothing but bad.”—-

    It’s prob not going to go over well with at least a few of his team members , and has the possibility to cause an issue in the lockers room right as they are starting a new season.

  34. tonebones says:
    Aug 16, 2016 7:35 AM
    The demographics are quite different for NFL and NBA players.
    ====================

    I’d say the difference has a lot more to do with the NBA having guaranteed contracts than different demographics

  35. “I don’t care what athletes, actors, musicians (unless that’s there thing i.e. Rage Against The Machine, Chuck D or Jello Biafra) have to say about any social issues. I turn to them to get away from all of that stuff.”

    So because they’re athletes or musicians you think they have no right to free speech and social opinions simply because you’re trying to hide from the world?

    SMH

  36. If these millionaires don’t like the league’s policy, quit, nobody is making you work there…..oh, wait, McDonalds isn’t hiring.

  37. Perhaps players in the NFL would be more outspoken if their contracts were guaranteed and didn’t have an average career of only 3.5 years compared to the NBA average playing career of about 5 years.

    On the whole, coaches and teams (and the vast majority of PFT readers) are very conservative and are afraid to take stances unless it’s so obvious that only the most shunned and bigoted would object such as racism and discrimination against fellow Americans such as gays. That’s why they won’t take a side in the police vs blacks issue, instead saying that violence is bad (gee, no kidding).

    Aaron is 100% right. Outspoken players do get shunned and mocked. They’re told to shut up and play or get cut. Just read PFT every so often or read opinion columns.

  38. Goodell is grossly overplaying his hand. Won’t be surprised to see a wildcat strike this season– NFLPA is backed into a corner, and isn’t going to wait til the next negotiations to correct Goodell’s capricious and often wrong martial law. Enough is enough.

  39. redeemerac says:
    Aug 16, 2016 6:41 AM
    All the league really cares about is money….

    Ummmm, helOOOO. League. Business. Business. Money. Derrrr. I made a business to lose money. I wanna give away money. Derrrrr. They have charities for that man. But even charities don’t hire a CEO (Goodell) to purposely LOSE money. The ONLY people that purposely lose money are parents.

  40. Speech to come soon from Goodell. “More probably than not your comments violated the integrity of the game and placed the shield in a bad light and you failed to cooperate plus you lost your ipad. Will cost you 8 game suspension in both 2017 and 2018.”

  41. I’m a big Rodgers fan (it’s a chick thing), but I wish his statement had been more about “I” and less about “we”. I realize in a way he’s proving his own point, but still someone has to take the lead and be the “I” guy. He’s got as much cred as anybody, and certainly more than Newton.

  42. So, you want A-Rod and Cam to speak out. What if Rogers said his heart goes out to all the Business Owners who had their stores destroyed and the (white) victims of racial violence who were getting pulled out of their cars and beaten for being white…not to mention the Police Officer who justifiably shot an ARMED suspect who would not drop his weapon. (All facts, not opinion)

    If he said that he would have the PC Mafia, BLM and maybe even some members of the team on his back.

    Keep in mind there is more than one POV in regards to social issues, not just the ones you want to hear.

  43. Afraid of reprecussions?? Obviously not Lil Erin Munn who yaks more than a hen party of old ladies. Give the man a muzzle, will ya?

  44. Then do something about it! The NFL is corrupt, from Spygate to bradygate to the relocation “rules”. This organization is more crooked than any other in sports … Including FIFA and the Olympics. Easy fix, quit feeding their wallet by buying Red Zone and season packages.

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