Aaron Rodgers has read the bombshell story on his alleged toxic relationship with Mike McCarthy that Bleacher Report's Tyler Dunne dropped last week. And he has issued his response.
In the in-depth, well-reported, and heavily sourced story,. McCarthy, according to the story, missed meetings for massages and ran an outdated offense that he refused to update. Rodgers, according to the story, held a grudge against McCarthy, wasn't considered to be a good leader by some teammates, and was difficult to work with as he often changed McCarthy's play-calls.
On Monday, Rodgers went on ESPN Wisconsin's "Wilde And Tausch" to mount his defense. In the process, he called out the writer of the story and the players quoted in the story.
According to Rodgers, the story is a "smear attack" by a writer trying to advance his own career and "mostly irrelevant, bitter players who all have an agenda."
Aaron Rodgers on the @BleacherReport story: "This was a smear attack by a writer looking to advanced his career talking with mostly irrelevant, bitter players who all have an agenda whether they’re advancing their own careers or just trying to stir old stuff up."— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) April 8, 2019
Rodgers elaborated on two of his main complaints about the article, rejecting the ideas that the Packers were concerned about his leadership qualities and that he disliked McCarthy. His proof? He says the Packers wouldn't have offered himand he wouldn't have signed that extension if either of those things had been true.
Here's what he said, via ESPN's Rob Demovsky:
"The two main things I think I really want to talk about and just clear up, which are really central themes to the article, the first is the Mark Murphy conversation because part of the article seems to want to say the Packers are worried about me as the leader of the football team moving forward. And before I get into what actually happened in the conversation with Mark, I want to say two things: One, if they knew that, why would they offer me a contract last year? And two, which goes into my second central thesis point that I'm going to take down, is if I really disliked Mike [McCarthy] so much, why would I re-sign knowing that if I play and we do what we do around here – we made the playoffs eight straight years and then I got hurt and we missed the playoffs – it's going to be me and Mike my entire career. So if I really disliked him that much, do you think I'd re-sign. Is the money that important to me? I'll tell you it's not. Quality of life is important."
In the story, it was reported that Packers president Mark Murphy told Rodgers, "Don't be the problem" when he informed Rodgers that "ridiculous" and "100 percent patently false," according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.to replace McCarthy. Rodgers called that aspect of the story
Rodgers also defended McCarthy, expressing his affection for his former coach. He acknowledged that they had some issues over the years, but what coach and quarterback don't ever clash at some point?
Aaron Rodgers on @ESPNMilwaukee: "I will tell you this about Mike... I love Mike McCarthy. Mike has been a huge part of my success and my career... We have had issues. Every long relationship does have issues. But the way we dealt with those issues was face-to-face."— Field Yates (@FieldYates) April 8, 2019
Aaron Rodgers on Mike McCarthy: "I love Mike McCarthy. He's a great man, he has a huge heart. He cares about his players, and he really showed that to us."— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) April 8, 2019
Rodgers appealing to #Packers fans on Mike McCarthy: "I think we need to honor Mike and respect him the right way. We had a hell of a run. ... Instead of trashing this guy on the way out, let's remember the amazing time we had together."— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) April 8, 2019
And Rodgers expressed regret over the comments he made last season
"I wish I hadn't said anything after the Bills game last year," he said, per ESPN. "I wish I had just gotten with him in person. I wasn't trying to be disrespectful to him but I know how it came off. That's what I told him when I met with him face to face."
Obviously, just because Rodgers is refuting the story doesn't make the story untrue. The story was damaging to both McCarthy and Rodgers. Neither of them benefited from it. It's no surprise that Rodgers came out so strongly against the story. It's no surprise that
Here's what we do know for certain: The Packers' offense under McCarthy grew stale over time. That's no secret. And Rodgers' level of play has dipped, even though he remains one of the best quarterbacks in football. Whether that mild decline happened as a result of McCarthy's antiquated offense or because of the injuries Rodgers has dealt with in recent years or due to Rodgers just simply not playing as well as he did in year's past, well, that's not entirely clear.
We also know that the Packers are running out of time to win another Super Bowl with Rodgers, who is now 35. We know that they took a bit of a gamble on 39-year-old, first-time head coach LaFleur, who comes from the Sean McVay coaching tree, but didn't see that much success as the offensive coordinator of the ( ) Titans offense last season. We know that, after the Packers' lack of success in recent years and Bleacher Report's story, Rodgers and the Packers will be under a microscope in 2019. And we know that, due to the rise of the Bears and the very competitive state of the Vikings, retaking the throne in the NFC North won't be easy.
Whether you believe Bleacher Report's version or Rodgers' denial, the Packers will enter the 2019 season as one of the league's most intriguing teams as they start anew in search of the glory that they haven't captured since the early-to-middle stages of the McCarthy era.