During his first press conference of training camp in 2021, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers engaged in an extended airing of grievances. This year, he had less of a chip on his shoulder. However, Rodgers dropped a pretty significant bombshell late in his 18 minute chat with reporters.
Rodgers was asked about the year since his July 2021 press conference, and whether and to what extent things have changed regarding how players are treated.
“I think there was a more concerted effort for [G.M. Brian Gutekunst] and his staff to be more visible, and to have better relationships with some of the guys,” Rodgers said. “I think it’s important. You know, as much as I respect, you know, the ideology of Billy Beane there where he didn’t want to get too close to a guy he’s got to get rid of, I think it’s easier to get cut by someone that you appreciate , that you can have face-to-face, eye-contact conversations and get released by or traded by than someone you have zero relationship with.”
The previous absence of relationships created at least one awkward moment, in 2018.
“There’s funny stories — not funny, actually — about like Kenny Clark coming in on cut day and somebody thinking he was a different guy who was gonna get cut,” Rodgers said. “And they told him, ‘Grab your playbook and head upstairs.’ And Kenny’s like, ‘What? I was a first round pick. I’m getting cut? In my third year?
“Stuff like just can’t happen in an organization that’s run well. Because the relationships are the most important thing in this game. Because that’s what fuels the chemistry. And the chemistry fuels the cohesion of a team, and that makes a difference in those crunch-time moments when the game is on the line. And it starts at the top. And I think there was some great changes that begin to take place, and they’re continuing to take place, and then I’ve really enjoyed seeing this place take a step forward.”
It’s amazing to think that someone who worked for the team confused a first-round pick with a guy who was going to be cut. And, yes, if there’s a firewall between the front office and the locker room, things like this will happen.
Rodgers has tried to tear down that wall. It looks like he’s had some success. The real question is whether it will last after he’s gone.