Aaron Rodgers came out firing in his first interview since a blistering article last week that took shots at him, Mike McCarthy and their relationship over 13 years in Green Bay.
During an appearance on Wilde and Tausch on ESPN Wisconsin, the Packers quarterback went after Bleacher Report’s Ty Dunne, who wrote the article, and two of his former teammates quoted in it, Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley.
“This was a smear attack by a writer looking to advance his career, talking with mostly irrelevant, bitter players who all have an agenda,” Rodgers said. “Whether they’re trying to advance their own careers or just trying to stir old stuff up.
“And then what happens is the same tired media folks picking it up and talking about it.”
Both former players questioned Rodgers’ leadership and not for the first time. Each has been a critic of the quarterback since their playing careers in Green Bay came to an end.
“I was 15-feet away from you for years,” Rodgers said of Finley and Jennings. “If you had a problem with my leadership, come talk to me. You have a problem about the way I’m doing something or said something you didn’t like, come talk to me.”
In the past, Rodgers has been described as being sensitive and petty about perceived or real slights during his career, and the two players attempted to hammer that home with their comments.
“Every time there’s an article, it’s the same two people,” Rodgers said. “If there’s not an article about me, do you ever hear their name anywhere else? Do they get interviews with people? Are they out there making comments? Are they making the rounds on the shows? I would say probably not. Definitely not in the same capacity.
“At what point do you move on? You talk about me being sensitive and petty. At what point do you move on, stop telling the same stories?”
Rodgers said the article is full of slanted opinions presented as facts and then things reported as facts that are lies. The 35-year-old said that was especially true about a quote attributed to Packers president Mark Murphy in which he told Rodgers, when they hired new coach Matt LaFleur, not to “be the problem.”
“It’s ridiculous. It is 100-percent patently false,” Rodgers said. “I talked to Mark last week and I said, ‘Mark, did you tell somebody about the conversation?’ He goes, ‘That’s ridiculous.’ I said, ‘Because that’s not what happened.’ And he told me, ‘Of course that’s not what happened.’ We had a great conversation, like we always do.”
The main reason for the article was to look into what went so wrong during former coach Mike McCarthy’s tenure that the club won just one Super Bowl. It attempted to look at McCarthy’s failings, Rodgers’ failings and the failings of their relationship and how it impacted the success. For his part, Rodgers did not deny the two were at odds during their 13 years together but he said it rarely stayed that way.
“The way we dealt with those issues, Mike and I, was face-to-face. We had conversations. Things didn’t fester for weeks, months, years,” Rodgers said. “And even at the most difficult moments, when I was stubborn about something, or he was stubborn about something, the conversation ended the same way every time. We came to an agreement and agreed to move forward on the same page. We got up. We hugged each other. We told each other, ‘I love you. I respect you.’ And then we moved forward together. That’s what happened.”
And Rodgers also had some advice for Packers fans when it comes to McCarthy.
“We as Packer fans, Packer people, I think we need to honor Mike and respect him the right way. We had a hell of a run,” said Rodgers, referencing the Super Bowl XLV win, the four NFC Championship Game appearances, making the playoffs eight straight years and the 19 consecutive wins during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. “We did some incredible things. So instead of trashing this guy on the way out, let’s remember the amazing times that we had together.
“My favor that I would ask of you, strongly is, if you see Mike, shake his hand. Tell him thanks for the memories. Tell him thanks for the coaching job that he did. Tell him how much you appreciated being a part of what we built here.”