GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The Green Bay Packers players returned to Lambeau Field to begin the team’s offseason workouts on Monday.
Among the players was quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has been under fire since a Bleacher Report article was released four days ago chronicling his relationship with former Head Coach Mike McCarthy.
Rodgers joined ESPN Wisconsin’s Jason Wilde and Mark Tauscher on Monday to respond to the article.
“The thing is about this article -- it's not a mystery. This was a smear attack by a writer looking to advance his career, talking with mostly irrelevant, bitter players who all have an agenda."
"They are advancing their own careers or just trying to stir old stuff up and then what happens is the same tired media folks picking it up and talking about it who this just emphasizes their opinion about me already. It’s …The crazy thing is there’s super slanted opinions in that piece stated as fact. And then there's quote-unquote facts which are just outright lies,” Rodgers said.
The article accuses Rodgers of having a lot of problems with McCarthy which stemmed from the 2005 NFL Draft. Rodgers, rumored to be a top pick, sat in the green room waiting to hear his name called. The San Francisco 49ers passed on Rodgers with number one overall pick and instead selected Alex Smith. McCarthy was the 49ers offensive coordinator. Rodgers would fall 23 spots to Green Bay.
Rodgers said he doesn’t hold a grudge as the article depicts.
“This idea that I had this grudge against him for years is absolutely ridiculous. It’s just not true. Where was that grudge in ’10 when we won the Super Bowl? Where was that grudge when we won 19 games in a row? Because I will tell you this about Mike, and if you look at the comments I made about him over the years, I love Mike McCarthy,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers acknowledged disagreements with McCarthy but said it was due to both of them being “alpha males” and “stubborn.”
“We have had issues. No doubt about it. Any long relationship has issues. But the way that we dealt with those issues, Mike and I, was face-to-face. We had conversations. Things didn’t fester for weeks, months, years."
"He would be up in his office. It’d be after a Thursday practice down in the big team room. It would be in the quarterback room. It would be at my house sometimes. It would be at his house sometimes. We spent time together. We talked about things and even at the most difficult moments when I was stubborn about something or he was stubborn about something, the conversation ended the same way every time. We came to an agreement and agreed to move forward on the same page. We got up. We hugged each other. We told each other that ‘I love you’ and ‘I respect you’ and then we move forward together,” Rodgers said.
The article also mentioned Rodgers “overruling” or blatantly not listening to his coach’s play calls. He denied that.
“I had a lot of latitude. He knew that and I knew that. I called the 2-minute [drill]. I called stretches of no-huddle offense but he wasn’t sending a play and I was like ‘eh.’ A lot of times he would send two plays in. ‘Hey do you like this or that?’ The trust level was really high,” Rodgers said.
Another story brought up was a phone conversation between Rodgers and Packers president & CEO Mark Murphy after new Head Coach Matt LaFleur was hired. According to Bleacher Report, Murphy told Rodgers “Don’t be the problem.”
Rodgers told Wilde & Tausch he was in Scottsdale, Arizona, when he talked to Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst, then LaFleur on the golf course, then called Gutekunst back.
“So I called [Gutekunst] back and he said, 'What did you think?' I said, ‘great conversation.’ I really enjoyed him. I’ve heard great things about him from Matt Ryan and some of the guys on Tennessee,” Rodgers said.
After the round, Packers president & CEO Mark Murphy then called Rodgers. This is reportedly when the “don’t be the problem” conversation would have happened. But Rodgers says it never did.
“It’s ridiculous. It is 100 percent patently false. So it’s either he made that crap up or what he would probably do as a writer is say ‘oh it was my source’s problem. They told me something.’ I talked to Mark (Murphy) like last week, and I said, ‘Did you tell somebody about the conversation?’ He goes, ‘That’s ridiculous.’ And I said, 'Because that’s not what happened.' And he told me, ‘Of course that’s not what happened,” Rodgers said.
ESPN Wisconsin’s Jason Wilde then finished the conversation about the article asking if Rodgers had a chance to respond to the article before it was published.
“I’m speaking on Wednesday this week like I always do and that was what was communicated and that wasn’t early enough. I think the article, they wanted it to get out after Mike (McCarthy) and [ESPN’s] (Rob) Demovsky’s interview got out. I think they wanted it out there as quickly as possible.”
The Packers will have players including Rodgers available for comment Wednesday afternoon.