In a wide-ranging and deeply sourced piece for Bleacher Report, Tyler Dunne last week chronicled the dysfunction of the Packers during the Aaron Rodgers/Mike McCarthy Era as seen through the eyes of several former players and others associated with the team.
Some sources were on the record. Some were off. But the overall picture it painted was as detailed as it was unflattering.
On Monday, Rodgers spoke publicly for the first time about the report. Predictably, he was not happy.
“The thing is about the article, it’s — it’s not a mystery. This was a smear attack by a writer looking to advance his career talking with mostly irrelevant, bitter players who all have an agenda, whether they’re advancing their own careers or just trying to stir old stuff up,” Rodgers said on ESPN Milwaukee radio. “What happens is the same tired media folks picking it up and talking about it. This just emphasized their opinion about me already. So it’s … the crazy thing is there’s super-slanted opinions in that piece stated as facts, and then there’s quote-unquote facts which are just outright lies.”
Rodgers instead said any perceived conflict between the star QB and the coach came down to a battle of wills — a toned-down version of the assertion in the report that both men had outsized egos and that their inability to coexist prevented a very good team from becoming a dynasty.
“As far as a player to a coach, it’s just two Alpha males who are hyper-competitive and love winning and are both a little stubborn,” Rodgers said. “But, again, we talked through so many different issues over the years, and that made us a lot stronger.”
There’s no doubt stakeholders quoted in the story, as well as Rodgers and McCarthy, have different viewpoints and lenses from which they witnessed what happened. It’s also uncommon for such a level of dirty laundry to be aired so soon after the end. McCarthy has only been out for a few months, after all.
But smear attack? While the unnamed sources outnumber the ones who went on the record, there are five former players quoted — including Greg Jennings, Ryan Grant and Jermichael Finley, all prominent members of the offense during the time. Maybe they all have an agenda? Or maybe they see something in Rodgers that the QB himself doesn’t see.
As Dunne quoted one anonymous source in the story: Every scrap of negative press, every perceived slight from a teammate, a coach, whoever, “bothers him to his core,” this source says, “It hurts him. … It’s like, ‘Dude. You’re Aaron Rodgers. Relax.