It's a miracle that Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy lasted for nearly 13 years together in Green Bay, because, apparently, the quarterback had some serious issues with the Packers former coach that dated all the way back to 2005.
Yup, there was drama between the two before McCarthy was even hired as Packers coach.
In an eye-opening piece on Bleacher Report, multiple former players and team employees paint an ugly picture of what went on in Green Bay during McCarthy's time as coach. Although with each other in 2018, it turns out the drama between the two men actually started at the 2005 NFL Draft.
Fourteen years ago, McCarthy was the offensive coordinator for the 49ers, who went into the draft with the No. 1 overall pick. At the time, the 49ers were in need of a quarterback, so it was pretty clear they were going to take one of two guys: Alex Smith or Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers and many fans in San Francisco thought he seemed like the obvious choice: For one, he was popular in the Bay Area because he grew up in Northern California (Chico), and also, he attended a Bay Area college (Cal). Instead, the 49ers chose Smith, and Rodgers ended up tumbling all the way down to the 24th pick, which was held by Green Bay.
One year after that draft, McCarthy was hired as the coach in Green Bay, which made for a slightly awkward situation, because Rodgers never forgave McCarthy for passing on him, according to former Packers running back Ryan Grant,
"Aaron's always had a chip on his shoulder with Mike," Grant told Bleacher Report. "The guy who ended up becoming your coach passed on you when he had a chance. Aaron was upset that Mike passed on him -- that Mike actually verbally said that Alex Smith was a better quarterback."
In separate interviews over the years, both Rodgers and McCarthy have seemingly acknowledged that the 2005 draft might have hurt their relationship. In a 2012 interview, Rodgers made it clear that he was humiliated by way things unfolded on draft night.
"It's embarrassing," Rodgers said. "You know the whole world is watching, your phone's buzzing every two minutes and you're hoping it's a team calling. But it's just your buddies just making jokes, and it's hard to laugh in a situation where you know everybody's laughing at you."
The thing that made Rodgers even more upset is that he had been hoping to play for the 49ers, a team he had grown up cheering for.
"I just thought it was the perfect situation," Rodgers said in 2016 of playing for the 49ers. "California kid who had been a lifelong Niner fan. I thought at the time I was the most NFL-ready quarterback coming out of college because I played in a pro-style system."
In a 2017 interview with ESPN, McCarthy recalled his 2006 hiring and said it was pretty clear that Rodgers was still "mad" at him for how the draft played out.
"He was mad at me," McCarthy said. "I said, 'Well, what did I do?' It was the first day of quarterback school. I said, 'Hey, I'm sure you have some feelings on this, and that's why I always tried to stay above it.'"
Once Rodgers became the Packers' starter in 2008, things only went downhill from there. According to the Bleacher Report story, Rodgers didn't respect McCarthy because he felt that his coach had a "low football IQ."
The story also states that Rodgers got tired of seeing his receivers run the same routes all the time, which only happened because McCarthy refused to change his offense. To fix things, Rodgers apparently decided to start changing the plays that McCarthy was calling on the field, which happened nearly one-third of the time.
Basically, things got so bad that receivers weren't sure if they should run the routes that McCarthy had called or if they should run the routes that Rodgers had called. That led to an ugly situation in November involving Equanimeous St. Brown.
Here's what happened on the play described in the article.
St. Brown ran the route Rodgers wanted him too, but due to pressure from the Patriots, the quarterback ended up throwing it to the route that McCarthy had called, which is a horrible look for everyone involved.
The full story is absolutely worth a read and you can see for yourself just how ugly things allegedly got between Rodgers and McCarthy. Although the Rodgers and McCarthy weren't interviewed for the story, McCarthy did do an interview with ESPN.com this week.
In that piece, McCarthy admitted he could get frustrated with Rodgers at times, but he thought that was normal for a duo who had been working together for more than a decade.
"When I think about my relationship with Aaron, you're talking about 13 years," McCarthy said. "That's a very long time. It's been a privilege to watch him grow in so many different ways and see him do so many great things on the field and off. To think you can be in a relationship that long and not have any frustrations, that's unrealistic."
McCarthy also described what it was like to coach Rodgers.
"As far as coaching him, I'd use a lot of words. He's challenging, very rewarding and fun," McCarthy said. "We had a lot of fun. Some of my greatest one-on-one conversations, accomplishments, adjustments and adversity we fought through have been with Aaron. The difficulty in coaching a Hall of Fame quarterback is keeping that connection, the efficiency and the fluency with the other players on offense. They want to do more. They're capable of doing so much more, but the reality is you have to remember is it's the coordination of 11 men on every play."
The thing about Rodgers is that he's going to get a fresh start this year with new coach Matt LaFleur. If Rodgers struggles to get along with LaFleur, then the Packers might have to start worrying about the fact that their quarterback is causing all the drama. Of course, if the Packers start winning right away under LaFleur, then the team might start regretting the fact that they didn't get rid of McCarthy earlier.