Although there's been a lot of speculation about Aaron Rodgers over the past 48 hours, it should be noted that none of that has come from Rodgers himself. With rumors flying around that he wants out of Green Bay, the Packers quarterback had the chance to clear the air on Saturday during an off-camera talk at the Kentucky Derby and all he did was muddle things even more.
During the derby broadcast, NBC's Mike Tirico noted that he ran into Rodgers at Churchill Downs and although Rodgers was unwilling to speak on camera, the reigning NFL MVP did talk with Tirico and here's what the NBC announcer had to say about the conversation.
"I bumped into one of the VIPs here who just happens to be the biggest news name in sports right now. That's Aaron Rodgers. He didn't want to talk on camera," Tirico said before noting what Rodgers had to say about the current drama in Green Bay. "I can tell you, I can characterize Aaron as disappointed that news has come out on this rift with the Packers. He expressed a couple of times how much he loves Green Bay, loves the fans, loves the franchise."
If Tirico had stopped right there, that would certainly make it seem like Rodgers would be open to a Packers return, but then he went on, and confirmed that there's a rift between the two sides.
"There is fissure, there is a chasm between management and the reigning NFL MVP," Tirico said. "We're just not sure how this is going to play out. I'll watch closely over the next couple of weeks to see what we hear from the Packers side and when Aaron does speak. Interesting times ahead for sure."
Although Tirico didn't specifically note what that "chasm" is, it's become pretty clear over the past 48 hours that Rodgers doesn't care too much for Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst. In a report from Thursday, Pro Football Talk noted that Rodgers "doesn't like anyone in the front office." More recently, Yahoo Sports reported on Saturday that Rodgers isn't going to return to the team as long as Gutekunst is in charge.
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The chasm between Rodgers and the front office is serious enough that team CEO Mark Murphy weighed in on the situation Saturday morning and admitted that there's an issue.
"Thursday was definitely a day filled with more intrigue than usual. The day started with the report that Aaron Rodgers is upset with the Packers and doesn't want to return to the team," Murphy wrote. "When a report like that involves the reigning MVP, it is obviously a huge story, and it dominated the sports news for most of the day. This is an issue that we have been working on for several months."
Although the team has been working on fixing things with their starting quarterback, it's become pretty clear that nothing is going to get resolved unless they get rid of Rodgers (through a trade) or Gutekunst. If the Packers are unwilling to trade him, NFL Media reported on Friday that Rodgers would consider retirement unless things are "repaired to his liking." As of right now, removing Gutekunst as general manager seems like the one thing that would repair the situation to "his liking."
If you're wondering why Rodgers feels such disdain for Gutekunst, it mostly traces back to last year when the Packers decided to take Jordan Love in the first round of the NFL Draft in a move that blindsided Rodgers. Not only did they trade up to make the pick, but Gutekunst didn't give Rodgers a heads-up that the team might select a quarterback.
Rodgers clearly felt like Gutekunst was trying to replace him, and now, it seems like he wants to see Gutekunst replaced.
The rift between the two likely got worst this year when the Packers refused to give Rodgers a new deal following a 2020 season where he won MVP while leading Green Bay to the NFC title game for the second straight year. According to Yahoo, the quarterback wanted a deal that would basically guarantee he'd be the starter for at least the next two seasons, but the Packers were only offering him a restructure that would have locked him in for 2021.
Rodgers will likely speak about the situation on camera at some point, but for now, he's going to enjoy his time at the Kentucky Derby and based on his hat choice, it's pretty clear he doesn't have a care in the world despite all the drama going on in Green Bay.
Rodgers did do one on-camera interview at the derby, but he kept the conversation to horses.