A new teacher comes into the room for the first time and tells students what they’re about, and what the agenda will be for the school year.
It’s the same way for a football team whenever a new coach comes in, and it certainly is the case for the Green Bay Packers with new coach Matt LaFleur, even for 14-year veteran Aaron Rodgers.
“It feels like the first day of school,” said Rodgers to Wilde And Tausch on ESPN Wisconsin, WTMJ’s sister radio network.
“You have a bunch of new teachers around. There been a lot of, just, kind of little changes.”
Everything from the artwork in the room…
“They painted the walls in the hallways like a bright white, it’s always been a little bit dimly lit; just little changes like that are good. They put up some murals around there, some sayings in the big team room.”
…to the seating setup.
“Matt had us switch seats today. It’s a new start so we’re going to switch seats. I’ve sat in the same seat for 14 years,” said Rodgers.
“I don’t think I’ve ever told this story, but when I walked in the team room for the first time, which was in the off season. I wanted to see where Brett sat, but not sit next to him because that would have been weird. But I sat kind of right in front of him to the right. So he’s in the back row and I’ve been in the second row in the 4th chair forever.”
“(Director of Sports Medicine Administration) Pepper Burress has been next to me for a few years,” added Rodgers.
“But I told Pep this morning that I got to go, so I moved down closer to the linemen.”
As for his relationship with LaFleur, it already had begun on a limited level before this week’s first workouts across the street from 1265 Lombardi Avenue. But Rodgers had observations after day one.
“I think it’s going to be a fun process. He’s a super energetic person. I think he’s a real straight shooter and honest. We’ve had some good conversations; they’ve had to be brief in nature during this off-season period,” he said.
“I think any great playcaller and their relationship with the quarterback is a partnership, ultimately, we both know who the boss is, it’s him, but it works best when it’s a partnership, and I’m excited about working with him.”
Rodgers spoke at length with Wilde and Tausch on ESPN Wisconsin about comments made on Bleacher Report about his relationship with Coach Mike McCarthy and about his injuries in 2018, including how he played with both a broken leg and a concussion.
The two-time MVP also delved into his current health in that medical discussion, saying how far he has progressed. But he also spoke on many players’ physical and mental progression, particularly young players from 2017 and 2018 entering the LaFleur regime.
“Guys start to realize that from years one to two, and two to three, as to how important this is as being a full time job,” said Rodgers. “And it’s fun to see the guys come back and feel good about themselves. It’ll be fun to get into it.”
What may not be fun for Rodgers is some of the terminology he will have to learn.
“I’m going to make sure I study tonight because there are some tongue twisters. You know when you have like five different “S” words for a certain type of formation. It’s six different “B” words for bunch formations, different “T” words for one-by-three (formations). It’s going to be a learning process. I’m excited about it, and it’s going to be a challenge.”
Another challenge: The constantly rotating new faces coming in and longtime stalwarts of the organization like Randall Cobb and Clay Matthews moving out of Lambeau Field. Rodgers feels the sting of such losses on a personal level, but he understands that nature of the business.
“I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged…And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. Still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they’re gone. I guess I just miss my friend.” #friendship #teammates #brothers #Packers
A post shared by Aaron Rodgers (@aaronrodgers12) on Mar 19, 2019 at 8:44pm PDT
“Relationships change all the time, and I think naturally the guys that are still on your squad, when other guys move on they naturally take that spot as the guys you hang out with, the guys you’re calling and texting and doing dinner with, and going on trips with (depart),” said Rodgers.
“But when you talk about guys like Randall, guys like Jordy (Nelson), guys like Clay, guys like John Kuhn…Mark (Tauscher) knows because we went out to Augusta this year. Those guys are always going to be in your life and close to you. I played with 10 years of Clay and we worked out a number of years in the off season I think he’s a fantastic guy and I have a lot of respect for him and his toughness.”
He singled out his relationships with his longtime pass targets.
“Definitely going to miss Randall, he’s like a brother to me, like a real brother, like a guy I can count on 100%, to talk to, to run through, to hang out with. We’ve been on vacation with him and his amazing wife Ida. He’s always going to be in my life. Jordy same way, JK same way,” added Rodgers.
“There’s just nothing like that time and when it’s gone, you have to figure out who those next guys are. You got to be your core guys, but you still have to reach out to everyone and get to know them and make them feel like apart of what you’re doing. Because when guys are most comfortable, the team chemistry and the squad is more connected.”