My all-time favorite sound bite from any coach or player came six years ago next month, when Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers dismissed an opinion of mine, calling me out by name and saying “don’t waste your time reading crap like that.”
(I should have sent Aaron a free copy of Playmakers.)
The issue came up because Rodgers, at the time, was offering public criticisms of the team that logically were also criticisms of coach Mike McCarthy. Rodgers had said after a loss to the Colts that the sideline lacked energy. Rodgers also said that the players needed to have a healthy fear of losing their jobs, if they fail to do them.
My point was simple. It’s ultimately on the head coach to ensure that the sideline exudes energy, and that the players fear the consequences of poor performance. Thus, Rodgers necessarily was questioning whether the head coach was doing his job, even if Rodgers didn’t say it.
Rodgers didn’t like that I made the logical connection then. He probably won’t like what I’m about to say now.
But I can’t avoid it. It’s sitting right there, staring us all in the face. When Rodgers says players are making mental mistakes 20 percent of the time (i.e., one out of every five plays), and when he suggests that players who are making too many mistakes shouldn’t be playing but they obviously are, that’s a shot at coach Matt LaFleur.
How can it not be? What else would it be? Who else would be responsible for tolerating chronic mistakes by players who have faced no consequences for chronically making mistakes?
Maybe, this time around, Rodgers won’t be upset that I finished his thought. In 2016, he seemed to be determined to never say anything that could get him scrutinized, by anyone. He has since made a calculated heel turn, taking positions and stances and chiming in on controversial issues, damn the consequences.
Still, he surely hopes to have his teammates and coaches on his side. Explicitly calling out unnamed players for making too many mistakes won’t help. Implicitly calling out the man in charge of the performance of all players won’t help, either.
It should be interesting today, when LaFleur meets with reporters at the press-room podium. And when Rodgers stands in front of his locker, possibly reminding everyone once again to not waste their time reading crap like this.