Any publicity is good publicity, as long as they get your name right. On Wednesday, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers got my name right.
Reacting to scrutiny of coach Mike McCarthy sparked in large part by the quarterback’s own words (more on that in a minute), Rodgers dismissed any and all of it.
“Especially guys like Mike Florio,” Rodgers told reporters on Wednesday. “Don’t waste your time reading crap like that.”
The audio likely will be repeated on PFT Live as frequently as the audience hears the voice of Stephen A. Smith extolling me to “please break a damn story!” And while the message is hurtful (not really), I still think Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks of the past generation and a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Still, his effort to dismiss my not-so-complicated analysis of the situation misses the mark. Contrary to the item in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel regarding the Wednesday comments, I haven’t “reported” on the existence of discord between Rodgers and coach Mike McCarthy. Instead, I’ve developed an opinion based on things said by Rodgers and McCarthy in press conferences that something is amiss between quarterback and coach.
Said Rodgers after an ugly home loss to the Colts: “I don’t know what the lack of juice was. You kind of felt it over the entire sideline. We didn’t have the same kind of enthusiasm and encouragement that we had the previous two weeks.”
I don’t have to be in the locker room, the meeting room, or the practice field to know that calling out the team for not having energy necessarily calls out the man ultimately responsible for ensuring that they do.
Then, after the Packers gave up 47 points to the Titans in a listless performance at Nashville, Rodgers took an even more direct shot at McCarthy: “There has to be that healthy fear as a player that if you don’t do your job they’ll get rid of you.”
Again, there’s no requirement to be loitering in the locker room, the meeting room, or the practice field to realize that there’s one person who ultimately has the job of instilling “healthy fear” in every player that if you don’t do your job, you’ll be fired.
Rodgers is smart enough to realize how his words would be interpreted, internally and externally. And it’s not a coincidence that, the day after his “healthy fear” remark, McCarthy was mimicking a Stuart Smalley bedroom mirror monologue by declaring to the world that he’s a “highly successful NFL coach.”
Maybe Rodgers didn’t expect anyone to interpret his remarks as criticism of McCarthy, or to call Rodgers out for it. Maybe someone got to him internally and persuaded him to kill the issue by defending McCarthy. Maybe Rodgers realized, based on comments from teammates like Randall Cobb, that even if the quarterback would win a game of rock-scissors-paper against the coach, perhaps the quarterback will lose some of the locker room in the process.
No one has to be in the locker room to come to the conclusion that something is amiss in Green Bay. They only need to be paying attention to the words that flow from it.
Sorry to have wasted your time.