Timeline of Aaron Rodgers’ Displeasure with the Green Bay Packers

Timeline of Aaron Rodgers’ Displeasure with the Green Bay Packers

by May 28, 2021 1 comment

For the last month, Packers fans and writers have spent countless hours trying to break down what in the world happened between Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Fans are confused. Writers are puzzled. The Packers front office, meanwhile, seems to be oddly calm; a cool breeze before a Hawaiian tropical storm. Since it is all about the people, let’s see where it all started and follow the timeline.

January 11, 2006: Packers Hire Mike McCarthy

On the outside, this was a simple coaching move for Ted Thompson. Upon further review, any good researcher will realize that McCarthy was in charge in San Francisco in 2005. That year, the 49ers passed on Rodgers to select Alex Smith with the first overall pick in the draft. Not a year afterwards, Rodgers was now following direction from the man who did not want him in the first place. 

Summer 2008: Packers Trade Favre to the New York Jets

Yes, this was actually the Packers choosing Rodgers over Favre. This was McCarthy and Thompson making the choice to start Rodgers. However, it set a precedent that would not go unnoticed by Rodgers. Facing the choice between the past and the future, Green Bay chose the future and did not look back. When the Packers eventually make a certain draft pick in 2020, Rodgers would surely know what that means. 

2011 Season: Rodgers Gets Cocky

The 2011 season was the first recorded instance of Rodgers starting to realize his role as face of the franchise. 

“Our first game of the season, it’s a timeout and Carlos Rogers comes up to talk to me. Aaron is right there listening to our conversation and says to Carlos ‘you guys should try to get him after this year, you should try and sign him.’ I looked at him like WHAT? It’s the first game of the season and my guy is already passing me off.”

— Former Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings in an interview with Colin Cowherd in 2019 

What is seemingly a small incident definitely has bigger implications. This conversation and rift with Jennings was the first time Rodgers realized his ability to play GM. While he could not be “LeGM” (like LeBron James in the NBA) due to the much larger NFL roster sizes, Rodgers was beginning to test those waters. Jennings heard the comment and was rightfully upset. What followed was the first of several public rifts with people close to Rodgers. 

Jennings eventually left after that season. After signing a contract with the Minnesota Vikings, it took Green Bay a few years to regain the incredible offensive firepower that they had during the 2011 season. 

2015-16 Offseason: James Jones Leaves in Free Agency
March 2016: Brian Gutekunst is Promoted to Director of Player Personnel

Many people point to Gutekunst being hired as general manager in 2018 as a tipping point. However, Ted Thompson took a reduced role in 2016 by giving most personnel decision-making to Gutekunst then. With that in mind, many more personnel decisions (even good ol’ Jake Kumerow) came under fire. 

2016-17 Offseason: Jared Cook Leaves in Free Agency
2017-18 Offseason: Jordy Nelson Leaves in Free Agency
January 2018: Brian Gutekunst is Hired as Packers General Manager
December 2, 2018: Packers Fire Mike McCarthy

For the most part, Rodgers wanted McCarthy gone. The quarterback had become complacent under McCarthy and the offense was stagnant. Rodgers knew that a change needed to be made, but he definitely did not see the type of change coming in the 2018-19 offseason. 

2018-19 Offseason: Randall Cobb Leaves in Free Agency

Let’s get one thing straight. The narrative that the Packers have not helped Aaron Rodgers or provided him with enough weapons is ridiculous. Using first-round capital on offense most years would have been idiotic given the consistent state of the Green Bay defense. That said, Rodgers began feeling out his GM capabilities in 2011. Seeing one of his favorite pass catchers leave every offseason definitely did not help keep the star quarterback happy with the Packers front office. 

January 8, 2019: Packers Hire Matt LaFleur as New Head Coach

No one is really sure if Rodgers was upset with the actual hire of LaFleur, but he did not like the way Green Bay handled the process. Reportedly, the team did not give Rodgers any input on the decision, but instead simply told Rodgers who would be hired. Given his level of stardom at that point in his career, many front offices would have given him the keys to the hiring process. True to their form, though, Green Bay made their decision and dealt with the consequences later.

The hiring has worked well. LaFleur and Rodgers have gone 13-3 both seasons and made the NFC Championship Game each year. Unfortunately, Rodgers did not have an issue with LaFleur the person, but the way he was hired. Sound familiar? Just wait. 

2020 NFL Draft: Green Bay Packers Select Jordan Love with the 26th Overall Pick

This one takes very little explanation. To get a little insight into Rodgers’ updated thoughts on the pick, here is a recent quote from his interview with ESPN’s Kenny Mayne. 

“With my situation, look, it’s never been about the draft pick, about picking Jordan,” Rodgers said. “I love Jordan, I think he’s a great kid. We have had a lot of fun together. I love the coaching staff, love my teammates, love the fan base in Green Bay. An incredible 16 years. It’s just kind of about a philosophy and maybe forgetting that 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.” 

Notice who Rodgers failed to mention? The Packers front office. The Packers front office which is led by Brian Guteknust who has been making personnel decisions since 2016. Personnel decisions that have led some of Rodgers’ best friends to walk out the door, seemingly without a second thought from Green Bay. See where this is going? 

After the Love selection, Rodgers knew exactly what it meant. Remember that second piece of the timeline? Rodgers sure did. 

“A lot of this was put in 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,” Rodgers said to Mayne. “This is just kind of, I think, a spill-out of all that.”

A Trade in the Offing?

Some major media outlets reported around the draft that Rodgers gave Green Bay an ultimatum: Fire Gutekunst or lose me. Let’s say that is true, which is doubtful. In 2008, the team chose future and longevity over short-term success. If Rodgers really is demanding a trade and pulling this culturally inspired charade, he has to know how it will end. Gutekunst has built an NFC powerhouse roster around his quarterback. The aging quarterback has the best supporting cast on both sides of the ball that he has had since their Super Bowl victory, in the 2010 season. 

He may not like Gutekunst, just like millions of human beings often are not “buddy buddy” with their boss. The most important thing is that Rodgers loves his coaches, his teammates and even his backup quarterback. He can go on as many philosophical rants he wants with Mayne, Pat McAfee or A.J. Hawk. All of the Packers fans blowing hot air on Twitter will calm down when Rodgers flings a 50-yard bomb to Davante Adams in Week 1. 

Lastly, Green Bay still can trade Aaron Rodgers. A post-June 1 deal would be much kinder to the Packers’ cap. Love could really impress in OTAs. Rodgers could continue to wind himself up in Hawaii with his new fiancée, but that is all very doubtful.

Immediately after the report from Adam Schefter on draft day, Rodgers spoke to Mike Tirico at the Kentucky Derby. Rodgers told Tirico that he was disappointed this all came out. Anyone who is surprised that Rodgers was displeased with the Green Bay front office clearly ignored the entire timeline above. But just as millions of Americans do their job effectively every day while disliking one of their bosses, Rodgers can be the league MVP while not liking Gutekunst. 

Final Verdict

Until the three-time NFL MVP is not under center for Green Bay in Week 1, fans should take his old advice: R-E-L-A-X. Everyone would be better off to tune out the national pundits who do not know Rodgers personally. He never works through traditional media. Rodgers talks to McAfee and Mayne. If it does not come out of his own mouth, best to be cautious and cautiously optimistic. In the meantime, everyone waits. 


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MJ is the host of "Next Man Up w/MJ Hurley" and "eXamining the XFL" MJ is also a reporter at Fansided for Oakland A's and at XFL Board.

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