Rodgers’ Mounting Disappointments
It’s not often that we talk about non-football related topics on our shows, but earlier this week during our first installment of No Huddle Radio, we briefly discussed Ryan Braun’s recent suspension from Major League Baseball.
To catch everyone up, Braun reportedly tested positive for steroids in late 2011 and vehemently argued that the test result was “BS”. Braun appealed the suspension and ultimately won, albeit on a technicality that stemmed from an issue with the chain of custody of the sample that he submitted.
The story was noteworthy here because of a tie that it has to the Packers’ organization. A big tie. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been friends and a business associate of Braun’s for some time. Both are the faces of their franchises and revered by fans, or in many cases regarding Braun, were.
When Braun’s positive test surfaced and amidst his assertion that he had done nothing wrong, Rodgers publically went to bat for him. Rodgers took to Twitter and posted some bold thoughts in support of his friend, using the term “idiots” to describe those who were judging Braun before he was found to be guilty. Rodgers also tweeted to an individual who questioned his allegiance to Braun and bet a year’s salary that Braun was innocent. Rodgers was basing his sentiments on what he had been told by Braun, at the time. As I have said before, Rodgers did what most of us would have done. He believed a friend, based on their merit alone. That’s how true friendship works, right? Most of us normally wouldn’t befriend someone that we didn’t feel that we could trust. Rodgers clearly had that trust in Braun and his word.
That was before today, when Rodgers spoke on the issue and it is clear that he is less-than-thrilled with the situation and likely, Braun himself. Here is a recap of those comments from CBS Sports. Rodgers has often toed a very careful line when speaking about sensitive topics and this was no exception. He was candid in stating his disappointment in the situation, but did leave us wondering what the state of his relationship with Braun would be from here forward. Let’s not forget that Rodgers is trying to prepare for the 2013 season and likely wants to put this behind him and focus on football.
It is not often that Rodgers is involved with or connected to turmoil such as the Braun situation. That, alone, is enough to fill a yearly quota of Rodgers-related drama. Probably more. Now add that his former teammate and current Minnesota Viking, Greg Jennings, is still sharing his candid thoughts about Rodgers and questioning Rodgers’ commitment to his team. Here is an excerpt of Jennings’ comments from the Chicago Sun-Times.com:
“For me, I’m such a team person, I’m going to defer to my teammates. I’m going to defer to the team, to the team, to the team. And I think when you reach a point where you’re not deferring any longer, it’s no longer really about the team.. . .don’t get me wrong, ‘12’ is a great person, but when you hear all positives, all positives, all positives all the time, it’s hard for you to sit down when one of your teammates says, ‘Man, come on, you’ve got to hold yourself accountable for this.’ It’s hard for someone to see that now because all they’ve heard is I’m doing it the right way, I’m perfect. In actuality, we all have flaws.”
I’ll quickly dismiss Jennings’ assertion that Rodgers thinks he is perfect and not about the team as “bitter pill syndrome”. As I have said before, I think Jennings is still feeling the sting of not getting a new contract to stay in Green Bay. Back in 2011 when receiver James Jones was a free agent, Rodgers lobbied the team to keep Jones and while the Packer did let Jones test the free agent market, they ultimately brought him back on a three-year deal. Jennings probably felt he was worth similar, or more, public support from Rodgers. While Rodgers didn’t say much about bringing Jennings back prior to his signing with the Vikings, he did drape constant praise over the Jennings during their time together in Green Bay. Rodgers is also and very likely disappointed in Jennings’ take on his dedication to the Packers.
Rodgers signed his mega-deal contract extension earlier during the offseason and perhaps Jennings feels that one of the reasons Rodgers didn’t go to bat for him was because he wanted the team to focus their financial efforts on his own contract. Purely speculation on my part. But when one player gets a new deal or a contract extension, teammates who are also waiting for their new deals are often found feeling passed over. In this case, it’s no comparison between the team deciding to lock up one of the league’s best quarterbacks during the prime of his career, and a wide receiver who missed significant time and is approaching age 30.
With the salary cap space that the team has, it doesn’t seem as though one situation was even related to the other. But still, this is how some NFL players think. While Jennings is talking about deferring to the team, to the team, to the team, he is certainly not afraid to single himself out and continue to talk about his former team time and time again. What about his new team, new team, new team?
During this offseason and now the preseason, Rodgers has faced plenty of disappointments. Some of those are even directed at himself, as Rodgers eludes to wishing he had handled his support of Braun differently, in hindsight. In the past, those questioning Rodgers and being critical of him have served as motivation for him on the field. If that is the case, once again, we should see a very motivated Rodgers coming into this 2013 season.
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on "AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason at: Jason Perone
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