Aaron Rodgers is Not Nice
You know who has a lot to say about Aaron Rodgers these days? Everyone, it seems. Well, mainly Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, who share the common traits of being formerly prominent Green Bay wide receivers that were dramatically phased out of the Packers' game plan last year.
So now, I guess, that gives them license to say whatever they want, which is just fine and dandy because it keeps the preseason interesting.
The main thrust of the Jennings/Driver complaints seems to be directed at Rodgers' leadership skills, specifically that he doesn't appear to step up and take credit for other peoples' mistakes. To that point, Driver tells NFL Network:
If a guy runs the wrong route, it's easy for the quarterback to say, 'Hey, I told him to run that route' than for the guy to be like, 'Well, I ran the wrong route.'"
Sometimes you ask Aaron to take the pressure off the guys so we won't look bad, but he didn't want to do that. He felt like if you did something bad, you do it.
Those comments echoed similar words from Jennings:
Don’t get me wrong, ‘12’ is a great person. But when you hear all positives, all positives, all positives all the time, it’s hard for you to sit down when one of your teammates says, ‘Man, come on, you’ve got to hold yourself accountable for this.’ It’s hard for someone to see that now because all they’ve heard is I’m doing it the right way, I’m perfect. In actuality, we all have flaws.
So in summary, Driver wants Rodgers to do more to make his guys look less bad, like, maybe throwing for 8,700 yards and 74 touchdowns against 14 interceptions over the last two years. Short of taking credit for everybody's drops publicly, I'm not sure what more Rodgers could do to cover for the rest of the team's shortcomings.
Greg Jennings, meanwhile, wants to be all about the team. That's why he made sure he cut the Packers a really affordable deal so they could retool and make another run at the Super Bowl with an ultra-deep receiving corps. That's why he made sure to keep a low profile this offseason, since the team comes first. That's why when his sister figured out how to use the Twitter machine last year, he made sure to publicly distance himself from those comments so as not to allow his silly relatives to become a distraction.
Wait, he didn't do that? Oh.
All their comments, though, make me wonder if we care too much about whether Aaron Rodgers is a nice guy. Nice is not a compliment. Nice is what you call a guy who has nothing else going for him. Aaron Rodgers is not and should not be considered nice.
And to that point, so what if he's not? Let's assume that Driver and Jennings are on to something. Let's assume that Aaron Rodgers is the worst leader that has ever played professional sports. Does it even matter? With a Super Bowl ring, a Super Bowl MVP, a regular season MVP, and a 15-1 season on his resume, I'm not sure it does.
If they're willing to criticize Rodgers for not being the Richard Simmons of positive quarterback leadership, that's fine, but take it with a grain of salt. Compared to the racial slurs and the (alleged) murdering of former business associates, Rodgers (allegedly) being kind of a jerk behind closed doors doesn't seem all that bad. And for that matter, it's possible that all quarterbacks have a little bit of the jerk gene in them.
Consider, in alphabetical order by last name, the rest of the NFL's starting quarterbacks and their jerk-ish behavior:
- Tom Brady - Gets in shouting matches with his coach. Jerk.
- Sam Bradford - Won't let anybody else hold his Heisman Trophy. Jerk.
- Drew Brees - Is a loving and devoted father. Jerk.
- Jay Cutler - Is Jay Cutler. Jerk.
- Andy Dalton - Has red hair. Jerk.
- Joe Flacco - Pretended to be that one guy from Jersey Shore. Jerk.
- Josh Freeman - Hasn't been able to harness his immense potential. Jerk.
- Matt Flynn - Threw a whole bunch of touchdowns in a meaningless game. Jerk.
- Blaine Gabbert - Is a real American. And Americans can be real jerks. Jerk.
- Robert Griffin III - Is passive aggressively feuding with his coach. Jerk.
- Colin Kaepernick - Forgets which team he plays for and wears the wrong hat. Jerk.
- Kevin Kolb - Inconsiderately concussed himself during the first game of 2010. Jerk.
- Andrew Luck - Grew a gross neck beard. Jerk.
- Jake Locker - Took Matt Hasselbeck's job. Jerk.
- Eli Manning - Has a goofy face. Jerk.
- Peyton Manning - Cussed out his own teammate on live TV. Jerk.
- Cam Newton - Has a signature dance. Classic jerk move. Jerk.
- Carson Palmer - Fake retired and sulked around until he got traded to the Raiders. Jerk.
- Christian Ponder - Had the nerve to not play with a seriously battered and bruised arm. Jerk.
- Ben Roethlisberger - Was accused of sexual assault. Twice. Jerk.
- Philip Rivers - Has a whole website devoted to his jerk face. Jerk.
- Tony Romo - Allowed Jessica Simpson to wear a pink jersey instead of a regulation white and blue one when they were dating. Jerk.
- Matt Ryan - Threw a touchdown on his first NFL pass, then messed up his perfect passer rating with no fewer than 983 incompletions over the next five seasons. Jerk.
- Mark Sanchez - Wears his hair like this (on purpose). Had a 17 year old girlfriend. Jerk.
- Matt Schaub - Did not take kindly to Ndamukong Suh's loving kick to the groin. Jerk.
- Alex Smith - Looked sad on the sideline instead of ALWAYS SUPPORTING HIS TEAMMATES like Greg Jennings said he should. Jerk.
- Matthew Stafford - Had a little too much fun watching NASCAR that one time. Jerk.
- Brandon Weeden - Got to play professional football AND baseball. Jerk.
- Russell Wilson - Got the PA guy to lie for him. Jerk.
- Ryan Tannehill - Has a more attractive wife than you. Jerk.
- Michael Vick - Had that whole dog fighting thing. Jerk.
You see? If Aaron Rodgers really is a jerk, he's in good company. Carry on.