Aaron Rodgers has broken his silence on last Thursday’s Bleacher Report feature about the rift between him and former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. On a radio show today, Green Bay’s quarterback insisted that he and his old coach got along fine and were just “two alpha males” butting heads, which is a really generous compliment to Mike McCarthy.
Rodgers appeared on ESPN Radio’s Wilde and Tausch to challenge some of the details in Tyler Dunne’s reporting. The interview will be airing on the show over the next two days, but ESPN’s Rob Demovsky pulled a few quotes. Rodgers admitted that he shouldn’t have called out his coach’s strategy after the Packers’ Week 4 win over the Bills, but was adamant that his relationship with McCarthy strengthened and developed with the highs and lows. Although the Bleacher Report feature said Rodgers would frequently change plays and do his own thing because McCarthy basically always called the same tired stuff, the QB claimed he was encouraged to have that freedom:
“The beauty in our relationship was that it grew year after year and we learned how to communicate with each other,” Rodgers said. “The beauty in our on-the-field relationship was that there was a ton of trust. When I read stuff like, ‘I’d disrespect him by changing all these plays,’ I had a lot of latitude. He knew that and I knew that. I called the two-minute, I’d call stretches of no-huddle offense. ... A lot of times, he’d send two plays in. ‘Hey, do you like this or that?’ That’s what it grew. The trust level was really high. I know it might make it tough on a play-caller when I’m going in a no-huddle period or I’m going in a two-minute of knowing exactly what’s called, but that’s the trust that we had and that’s why I appreciate getting to play for him for so many years.”
When asked if he liked McCarthy more as a person than as a coach, Rodgers said: “I love Mike McCarthy. He’s a great man. He’s got a huge heart. He really cares about his players, and he showed that to us. ... As far as a player to a coach, it’s just two Alpha males who are hyper-competitive and love winning and are both a little stubborn. But, again, we talked through so many different issues over the years and that made us a lot stronger.”
Another tidbit was that before hiring new head coach Matt Lafleur, Packers CEO Mark Murphy reportedly called Rodgers and told him, “Don’t be the problem.” The QB said that didn’t happen, and that he had a “great conversation” with Murphy last week where they laughed at the idea that the sentence was ever uttered.
As for the fact that ex-teammates Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley put their names on what they had to say—former running back Ryan Grant also went on the record but was more complimentary of his former QB—Rodgers called them “irrelevant.” They were all on that Super Bowl-winning team, but okay.
For his part, in an interview last week, McCarthy had felt similarly about how he communicated with Rodgers:
As far as our relationship, you have to put it through the proper lens like you always have to do with reflection and change. Where there’s change, let’s be real, especially the way the change happened, there’s things that come out after the fact. Things get said. He-said, he-said this and things like that. When I think about my relationship with Aaron, you’re talking about 13 years. That’s a very long time. It’s been a privilege to watch him grow in so many different ways and see him do so many great things on the field and off. To think you can be in a relationship that long and not have any frustrations, that’s unrealistic.
To show how totally cool he was and is with McCarthy, Rodgers issued a plea to Green Bay’s fans: “My favor that I would ask of you, strongly, is if you see Mike, shake his hand. Tell him thanks for the memories. Tell him thanks for the coaching job that he did.” Just don’t try talking to the guy at any high school basketball games.