GREEN BAY, Wis. – Given a nationally televised chance Monday night to refute any standoff between him and his team, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers passed.
He also did not retire.
Instead, in an interview with ESPN SportsCenter host Kenny Mayne, Rodgers was careful to leave all options open for his future.
“Anything’s on the table at this point,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers did not arrive at voluntary organized team activities Monday when the Packers opened that phase of their offseason program. He is unlikely to be the only Packers player not participating in OTAs, given the leaguewide movement among players to skip voluntary workouts this offseason. But Rodgers has consistently been a participant in OTAs throughout his career, until now.
Players are not required to arrive in Green Bay until the start of minicamp June 8. Minicamp is the only mandatory team activity between now and the start of training camp in late July. Rodgers was not asked about his plans for minicamp or training camp.
Rodgers said his discontentment with the Packers is not about general manager Brian Gutekunst’s decision to trade up in the first round of the 2020 draft to select Utah State quarterback Jordan Love, who was immediately perceived as his heir apparent. In the same answer, Rodgers acknowledged his discontentment was set in motion last year, and the standoff is “spill out” from what happened that spring.
“My situation has never been about the draft pick, picking Jordan,” Rodgers said when asked directly if he was demanding a trade. “I love Jordan. He’s a great kid. A lot of fun to work together. I love the coaching staff, love my teammates, love the fan base in Green Bay. Incredible, incredible 16 years. It’s just kind of about a philosophy, and maybe forgetting it is about the people that make the thing go. It’s about character, it’s about culture, it’s about doing things the right way.
“A lot of this was put into motion last year, and the wrench was just kind of thrown into it when I won MVP and played the way I played last year. So this is just kind of a spill out of all that, but it is about the people. That’s the most important thing.”
Missing in Rodgers’ list of people he loved were general manager Brian Gutekunst and team president/CEO Mark Murphy. Both have remained steadfast in their insistence Rodgers remains the Packers quarterback in 2021. A Yahoo! Sports report last month indicated one of Rodgers’ conditions for returning to the team was Gutekunst’s removal as GM, a desire Gutekunst said after the draft was never relayed to him.
Rodgers was not asked whether he wanted Gutekunst to be fired, but he took a page out of the GM’s book with his messaging. Gutekunst, along with coach Matt LaFleur, have oftentimes appeared to be speaking directly to Rodgers through their Zoom calls with the media in the past month.
When asked about fans siding with the team in his interview with Mayne, Rodgers appeared to be directly speaking to the Packers and their fan base.
“I think sometimes people forget what really makes an organization,” Rodgers said. “History is important, legacy of so many people who’ve come before you, but the people. That’s the most important thing. The people make the organization. The people make the business. Sometimes that gets forgotten.
“Culture is built brick by brick, the foundation of it by the people. Not by the organization, not by the building, not by the corporation. It’s built by the people. I’ve been fortunate enough to play with a number of amazing, amazing people, and got to work for some amazing people as well. And it’s those people that build the foundation of those entities. I think sometimes we forget that, you know.”