BEHIND THE FRONT PAGE: One way or another, the Rodgers mess will be cleaned up

As a football player, I love Aaron Rodgers and always will.

I say the same thing about Brett Favre. Funny how their paths are crossing again.

The sports world and most of Wisconsin was turned upside down last Thursday when it was reported that Rodgers no longer wants to play for the Green Bay Packers.

Before I write another word, I think it is important to point out that a lot of people have spoken publicly on this topic except for one very important person—Rodgers himself. On the other hand, I do tend to believe the sources on this story as Rodgers undoubtedly would have squashed this rumor by now if there were no truth to it. Still, Rodgers’ silence should be cause for sports commentators to be cautious with their words. It also may be a reason for Packers’ fans to hold out some hope that Rodgers may return as the man himself has yet to declare that he is burning all the bridges.

The whole thing is an unfortunate mess which is causing fans to assign blame to one camp or the other—and there is probably enough blame to go around.

I have not seen any formal polls—only listened to some informal fan responses—but I’m guessing the majority of Packers’ fans are going to side with the team on this one. Those fans love the Packers and they love Rodgers, but they also go to work every day doing their jobs for a tiny fraction of what Rodgers is making. Many fans are not going to understand what this is all about. They are going to view it as a rich man’s temper tantrum over some pretty trivial issues.

On the other hand, how many of those fans have ever worked at a job where they got ticked off by something their employer did or did not do? How many of those fans have left a job for what they thought or hoped would be greener pastures?

Often times, those pastures contain a lot more cow pies than the one you’re leaving. During Favre’s bitter separation from the Packers, he had some forgettable time with the Jets and then some modest success with the Vikings which ended in a memorably terrible way for him and the team. Then came years of trying to mend the relationship with the Packers and their fans.

One would think Rodgers might have learned something from the Favre example, but then someone came along to spoil that lesson—Tom Brady. Brady left his longtime team and found a pasture which was equally green, winning another Super Bowl with Tampa Bay last year. My prediction is that more stories will end as Favre’s did than what happened with Brady.

So what exactly is this all about? Is it really that the Packers drafted a quarterback last year? Here’s a news flash: Professional athletes do not play forever. With Rodgers heading into his upper 30s, the Packers saw an opportunity to draft his heir apparent and let Jordan Love observe and learn under Rodgers for a few years—just as they did with Rodgers. Had the Packers not done anything until the day Rodgers retired or saw his skills diminish, fans would have screamed, “Why didn’t you prepare for this?”

Is this about money and contracts? As one person said to me in the past week about Rodgers, “How many millions do you need?” On the other hand, who among us wouldn’t reach for that second pile of cash on a table if someone slid the first pile in our direction?

Is this about team leaders not consulting with Rodgers prior to personnel moves? Again, many fans are pulling out the phrase “prima donna” in that discussion.

It’s a mess, and one I hope gets cleaned up soon.

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