In his first interview since the controversial Bleacher Report article about his relationship with former Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy and much more, quarterback Aaron Rodgers strongly and emotionally refuted numerous parts of that piece.
“This was a smear attack by a writer looking to advance his career, talking with mostly irrelevant, bitter players who have an agenda,” Rodgers told Wilde And Tausch on WTMJ sister station ESPN Wisconsin. He particularly singled out former Packers receivers Jermichael Finley and Greg Jennings.
“The crazy thing is, there are super slanted opinions in that piece stated as fact. Then there are ‘facts’ which are outright lies. In some cases where you maybe ignore something like this, I don’t think you can in this case.”
Rodgers specifically focused on two areas: His long relationship with McCarthy, and the nature of his conversation with Packers president Mark Murphy when the team hired new coach Matt LaFleur.
Regarding the Murphy conversation, Bleacher Report said Murphy warned Rodgers not to cause issues with the new head coach. As Dunne wrote it, citing a source, “Don’t be the problem…don’t be the problem.”
— Wilde And Tausch (@WildeAndTausch) April 8, 2019
“It is 100% patently false. It’s either he made that crap up, or what he would probably do as a writer is say ‘It’s my source’s problem,’ ” said Rodgers about what Dunne wrote.
Rodgers described the conversation as much more congenial, one which he held just after playing golf in Scottsdale, Arizona.
” ‘I know you talked to Gutey already,’ ” Murphy said, according to Rodgers.
“‘I’m excited about Matt. There will be some changes, but it’s going to be great.’ “
Rodgers even said he spoke with Murphy after the Bleacher Report article came out, and they spoke about what Rodgers said was untrue.
” ‘Mark, did you tell somebody about the conversation?’ ” said Rodgers, describing his words to Murphy.
“He said, ‘That’s ridiculous.’ “
When it came to McCarthy, who was Rodgers’ coach for 12 years and 12 games with the Packers (2006-18), Rodgers gave a picture of a longtime covenant relationship, one that had some father-and-son elements with occasional passionate disagreement, but with a shared sense of mission and mutual respect which led them to solve their differences.
“We have had issues. Any long relationship has issues, but the way we dealt about those issues was face to face…things didn’t fester,” Rodgers explained.
“We spent time together. We talked about things. Even at the most difficult moments when I was stubborn about something, when he was stubborn about something…we came to an agreement…We got up and said we loved each other, respected each other…and moved forward.”
Rodgers also spoke about the report that refuted the idea of a longtime grudge Rodgers had with McCarthy when he was with the San Francisco 49ers the year they chose Alex Smith as the first pick of the 2005 draft.
“This idea I had a grudge against him for years is absolutely ridicuous. Where was that grudge in 2010 when we won the Super Bowl? Where was that grudge?” asked Rodgers.
He also extolled Packers fans to give McCarthy much better treatment than many fans have given him since his firing after leading Green Bay to their second straight non-playoff season after eight consecutive playoff berths, one shy of an NFL record.
“We as Packers fans and Packers people need to honor Mike and respect him the right way,” said Rodgers.
“Instead of trashing this guy on the way out, let’s remember the amazing times we had together.”
Rodgers added that fans need to have an extra understanding of the situation McCarthy is in, continuing to live in Green Bay the year after being fired from the most prominent job in Wisconsin next to the state’s governor.
“Mike lives here. He has young kids here. Mike has to be here…if you see Mike, shake his hand. Tell him thanks for the memories, thanks for the coaching job that he did. Tell him how much you appreciate him,” explained Rodgers.
“Let’s honor him and his legacy as the second-winningest coach in Packers history.”