Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
Watch now: Aaron Rodgers says Packers' front office has forgotten that ‘people make an organization,’ dodges trade demand question
0 Comments
topical

Watch now: Aaron Rodgers says Packers' front office has forgotten that ‘people make an organization,’ dodges trade demand question

  • 0

GREEN BAY — Day 26 of The Aaron Rodgers Saga — at least the out-in-the-open portion of it — began on Monday with the reigning NFL MVP skipping the Green Bay Packers’ first organized team activity practice. It ended with Rodgers speaking for the first time since news broke of his unhappiness with the organization and general manager Brian Gutekunst.

Speaking in an interview on ESPN’s SportsCenter as part of longtime anchor Kenny Mayne’s final broadcast, the Packers disgruntled star quarterback confirmed to Mayne that he was a no-show for Monday’s practice.

But it wasn’t so much about what the three-time NFL MVP said to Mayne during their nighttime interview. It was more about what Rodgers clearly, deliberately didn’t say.

Rodgers refused to confirm or deny whether he has demanded a trade. But more importantly, he sent a not-so-subtle message about which part of the operation he’s displeased with — and it’s not his teammates, not his coaches, not the fans and not even quarterback Jordan Love, whom Gutekunst traded up to select in the first round of last year’s NFL draft.

“I think sometimes people forget what really makes an organization. History is important — (the) legacy of so many people who’ve come before you. But the people, that’s the most important thing,” Rodgers told Mayne during the one serious answer he delivered during the back-and-forth between the two longtime friends. “People make an organization; people make a business. And sometimes, that gets forgotten.

“Culture is built brick by brick, the foundation of it by the people — not by the organization, not by the building, not by the corporation. It’s built by the people. I’ve been fortunate enough to play with a number of amazing, amazing people and got to work for some amazing people as well. It’s those people that build foundation of those entities. I think sometimes we forget that.”

When Mayne tried to ask Rodgers if he was demanding a trade, Rodgers ignored the interruption and continued.

“With my situation, look, it’s never been about the draft pick, picking Jordan,” Rodgers said. “I love Jordan; he’s a great kid. (We’ve had) a lot of fun to work together. (I) love the coaching staff, love my teammates, love the fan base in Green Bay. (It’s been) an incredible 16 years.

“It’s just kind of about a philosophy and maybe forgetting that it is about the people that make the thing go. It’s about character, it’s about culture, it’s about doing things the right way. A lot of this was put in motion last year and the wrench was just kind of thrown into it when I won MVP and played the way I played last year. This (situation) is just kind of, I think, a spill-out of all that.

Get to know all nine players taken by the Green Bay Packers in the 2021 NFL Draft.

“But it is about the people, and that’s the most important thing. Green Bay has always been about the people — from Curly Lambeau being owner and founder; to the ‘60s with (Vince) Lombardi and Bart Starr and all those incredible names; to the ‘90s teams with coach (Mike) Holmgren and ‘Favrey’ (Brett Favre) and the Minister of Defense (Reggie White); to the run that we’ve been on. It’s about the people.”

Rodgers’ answer harkened back to last spring’s ESPN documentary about Michael Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls, “The Last Dance.” Among the memorable storylines of that docuseries was Bulls general manager Jerry Krause being quoted as saying that organizations, not players, win championships — a statement that angered Jordan and his teammates.

The 37-year-old Rodgers’ unhappiness with the organization and Gutekunst became public with an ESPN report on April 29, the first day of the NFL draft. And before Monday night, Rodgers had not spoken publicly about the situation since his displeasure with the team and desire to play elsewhere became publicly known.

Rodgers and his fiancée, Shailene Woodley, were vacationing in Hawaii last week, and the reigning MVP has also traveled to Mexico, Walt Disney World in Florida and the Kentucky Derby with his future wife so far this offseason.

Rodgers has never missed the technically voluntary workouts during his first 16 NFL seasons, and he benefited from Favre, his predecessor, being excused from the workouts in 2005 and 2006 and taking part on a limited basis in 2007 — which allowed Rodgers to get extra offseason work.

Love is taking part in OTA practices, and he certainly needs the additional work after the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out all of last year’s on-field offseason work and all preseason games. Love didn’t dress for any of the Packers’ 18 games last season and got limited work during regular-season practices because he was the No. 3 quarterback behind Rodgers and top backup Tim Boyle, who left to join the Detroit Lions as a free agent earlier in the offseason.

These OTA practices are part of Phase III of the NFL’s offseason program, and Rodgers skipped the Phase I sessions that were held virtually and the Phase II in-person sessions that began last week. Select reporters will be allowed to attend Tuesday’s practice at Clarke Hinkle Field, although the practice is closed to the public.

Rodgers isn’t the only veteran player to not take part in OTAs, though. For example, tight end Robert Tonyan, who has yet to sign his restricted free-agent tender, has been working out with San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle again this offseason in Nashville, where Kittle, Kansas City’s Travis Kelce and retired tight end Greg Olsen are hosting a “Tight End University” this summer with many of the league’s top tight ends, including Tonyan.

Throughout the league, many teams have altered their OTA practices in an effort to placate players who, along with the NFL Players Association, believe last year’s virtual-only offseason proved that such extensive in-person practice time isn’t necessary for most veteran players. A number of veterans league-wide have opted not to take part in these sessions, which in the past have been voluntary in name only.

Rodgers is only required to attend the Packers’ three-day mandatory minicamp, which begins June 8. If he opts to skip those practices, he will be subject to fines. According to league rules as agreed to by the NFLPA in the last collective bargaining agreement, the team could find Rodgers (or any player) a total of $93,085 for missing all three days — $15,515 for the first missed day, $31,030 for the second missed day and $46,540 for the third missed day.

Rodgers would also be subject to heavy fines if he didn’t show up for the start of training camp in late July. Those absences would come with a mandatory fine of $50,000 for each day missed.

The Packers have three other quarterbacks on their roster in addition to Rodgers: Love, recently signed veteran Blake Bortles, and Kurt Benkert, who beat out Chad Kelly for the fourth QB spot with a strong performance during a tryout at the team’s rookie minicamp earlier this month.

Gutekunst and head coach Matt LaFleur have said multiple times that they want Rodgers back and that the team has no intention of trading him. Team president/CEO Mark Murphy said in a recent column on the team’s website that the team is committed to Rodgers for “2021 and beyond,” and LaFleur has gone out of his way to repeatedly publicly emphasize how much the Packers want their star back in the fold — and how Rodgers holds the key to the team’s Super Bowl championship aspirations.

“We still obviously feel the same way,” LaFleur said during rookie minicamp. “We want him back in the worst way. I know he knows that, and we'll continue to work at it each and every day.”

0 Comments

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alerts

Badger Sports

Breaking News

Crime

Politics