A world-class Hall of Fame quarterback is being attacked through the media about his history of being passive-aggressive and his inability to be a proper leader to his teammates. Sound familiar? Only this time it’s not about the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger. Now it’s about Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
While it’s a nice change of pace, I think we should have learned to be skeptical about the random accounts of former teammates and at least weigh them with a critical eye before determining their validity. In Roethlisberger’s case, the most ‘damning’ story was the account of a running back who spent a few weeks in one season on the 53-man roster.
For Tyler Dunne’s story on Rodgers for Bleacher Report published yesterday, there are at least some more significant names attached, and detail older events that were current for their time on the roster. For example, former running back Ryan Grant, who was Rodgers’ teammate from 2007 to 2012.
Grant recalls that “Aaron’s always had a chip on his shoulder” against former Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy, with the argument the article presents being that it began while McCarthy was with the San Francisco 49ers and they chose Alex Smith over him the year before McCarthy became the Packers’ head coach.
“That was a large cancer in the locker room”, he said. “It wasn’t a secret”. Like Antonio Brown’s habitual tardiness and off-campus housing during training camp, I guess. Another unnamed player recalled that Rodgers would routinely call him to vent about McCarthy’s incompetence, saying he has a low football IQ.
“He’s not going to respect you if he thinks he’s smarter than you”, a member of the team’s personnel staff at the time told Dunne. Another former scout for the team said of Rodgers, he’s “not as smart as he thinks he is”.
Grant faulted McCarthy for giving Rodgers too much control, too much freedom to run his own offense, which only became a problem as the talent around him dwindled and it became harder and harder to find success through that method.
“When you put a quarterback in a position and you talk about how cerebral he is and you give him flexibility to make some changes, guess what?”, he said. “You develop A.I., because it has the capacity to run without you”.
The general bent of the story is that the egos of these two men tore down a dynasty that never was. McCarthy became complacent and believed his system was the reason the team had success. He and Rodgers had a rivalry for control of the team. Unsurprisingly, the quarterback won, but now he has to prove he was in the right by winning without him.
There’s so much in this article, quite frankly, that it’s impossible to summarize here, but suffice it to say that neither Rodgers nor McCarthy come out looking good. While McCarthy is faulted for a lot of things, Rodgers never dealt with any of them, except to complain behind the scenes.
Team president Mark Murphy, who is said to be “tired of the diva stuff”, reportedly told Rodgers, after informing him of the hiring of Mat LaFleur as their next head coach, “don’t be the problem”. If true, that’s pretty significant.