Former Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk interviewed Aaron Rodgers for his podcast a month ago, when Rodgers talked about wanting to play in Green Bay past his 40th birthday.
In case you weren’t aware, things may have changed since then.
Hawk told Peter King of NBC’s Football Morning in America that the questions about Rodgers’ relationship with new teammate Jordan Love will be less of a concern than with coach Matt LaFleur.
“It does make me wonder now what their relationship will be like,” Hawk said of Rodgers and LaFleur. “I think Aaron’s relationship with Jordan Love will be great. Aaron will be open with him. I think the frustrating part for him, and for the organization, will be this story will not go away after the first press conference for Aaron when the team finally is back together.
“It’ll keep coming up—not just this year. It probably doesn’t help that [Rodgers and LaFleur] probably won’t be in the same room for a while.”
Prior to the organization trading up for another quarterback who might eventually replace him, Rodgers had spoken in glowing terms about his new coach.
“He just cares about [football] so much,” Rodgers said on Hawk’s podcast. “He loves the competition part of it. I’m just by nature a little more calm on game days. He’s definitely more amped up. So we’re a good balance for each other. He helps me get into the game mode. When s—’s getting a little bit dicey, I can kind of help him settle down a little bit. We’re a really good balance for each other.”
Of course, the Packers are also making sure to compartmentalize things, to make sure the decision can be traced to General Manager Brian Gutekunst rather than LaFleur. That will be helpful when the team returns to the field and LaFleur and Rodgers have to work together on a daily basis.
But Hawk’s certainly right about one thing, this story won’t go away any time soon. Since Rodgers himself hasn’t talked about it yet, the vacuum will continue to be filled by those who know him or are close to (or even the periphery of) the situation talking about it.
And that may not necessarily help bridge the gap between the team and its most important player.