Packers: Aaron Rodgers Drama Will Undoubtedly Take A Toll On His Teammates
It was late July, 2008 — back when training camp practices left players dog-tired — and Aaron Kampman was exhausted.
It wasn’t just Mike McCarthy’s practice in the sweltering heat that left Kampman drained. It was also the Brett Favre drama.
Kampman, a two-time Pro Bowl defensive end, was in his prime that summer and put on a show most days at practice. When reporters flocked to Kampman, though, no one asked about his sack totals.
It was Favre, Favre and more Favre.
“It’s exhausting,” Kampman said that summer. “I think we’ve got a great team here, a team that was in the NFC Championship Game last year (2007) and no one wants to talk about it. I’m pretty excited about what we can do, but all anyone wants to talk about is Brett.”
The 2021 Packers are about to experience the exact same thing.
Today, 13 years after a summer of Favre drama that resulted in the Hall of Fame quarterback being traded to the New York Jets, the Packers are experiencing a similar spectacle with quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers has been upset with the organization since it selected quarterback Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 draft to eventually replace him. Five hours before the NFL Draft on April 29, word leaked that Rodgers didn’t want to play for Green Bay ever again. The Packers have said repeatedly they won’t trade him.
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Rodgers didn’t take part in virtual offseason workouts and did not attend voluntary organized team activities the past two weeks. And ESPN reported Monday that Rodgers is not expected to attend Green Bay’s mandatory mini-camp that begins today.
With Rodgers skipping the Packers’ offseason program, what happens on the practice field will be largely ignored by many in the media. Instead, they’ll focus on Rodgers, Rodgers and more Rodgers.
And as the 2008 team can attest, that line of questioning will become draining to everyone involved.
“It does (bother me) a little bit because of the quality of football team we have,” center Scott Wells said back in 2008. “We came off an outstanding year last year and we’re looking to build on that and we’ve got a lot of the same players returning. Our team’s not going to be determined by one player, so it’s a little frustrating.”
Much like 2008, the 2021 Packers are coming off a season where they lost in the NFC Championship Game. No one focused on that, though, 13 years ago, and no one will today.
Back in 2008, the national media flooded the NFL’s smallest city, which only added to the chaos. Favre said throughout the process that he didn’t want to be a distraction to his teammates, but that was an impossibility.
The same movie now has a sequel, only Rodgers is now the lead actor.
The only public comments Rodgers has made came during an interview with former ESPN employee Kenny Mayne. There, Rodgers said, “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.”
Throughout the ordeal, though, Rodgers’ camp let it be known that the disgruntled quarterback wants Packers’ general manager Brian Gutekunst fired. Pro Football Talk reported, “(Rodgers) doesn’t like anyone in the front office for a variety of reasons.”
The 2021 Packers have been asked plenty about Rodgers over the past few weeks. Those questions will only intensify as training camp — and perhaps the season itself — nears.
“We’ve got to control what we can control as a team and we’ve just to come out, practice, handle business and play ball,” nose tackle Kenny Clark said. “You know, we’ve got to leave that situation to the organization and Aaron. But as far as us up here, we only can control what we can control and handle our business.”
Added safety Adrian Amos: “I come to work and I have to be prepared to play ball, regardless of who’s in here playing quarterback or anything like that. So that’s really what I’m focused on.”
That’s easy for Amos to say.
But as the Rodgers-saga drags on — and both parties remain entrenched — it will be harder and harder for the 2021 Packers to stay focused.