Posted August 15, 2013

Aaron Rodgers’ ex-receivers continue to take odd potshots at their former quarterback

Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, NFC North
(Robert Beck/SI)

Aaron Rodgers (center) has gotten flack from former receivers Greg Jennings (85) and Donald Driver (80). (Robert Beck/SI)

By any standard, Aaron Rodgers is either the NFL’s best quarterback, or near the top of a very, very short list. His career numbers — a 65.7 percent completion rate, 171 touchdowns, and just 46 interceptions in 78 regular-season starts — tend to boggle the mind. He’s one of the best of all time both in and out of the pocket, and few passers in history can match his deep accuracy. Rodgers is on an absolute Hall of Fame track, and according to most of the people who know him, he’s managed to stay relatively grounded and humble along the way.

So, why is it that Rodgers’ former receivers are taking shots at him? Greg Jennings, who signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract with the Minnesota Vikings in March after seven years with the Pack, has had all sorts of interesting things to say about the guy who delivered most of his 53 touchdown catches and helped him win a Super Bowl at the end of the 2010 season.

“I need to go back to my college days where the quarterback wasn’t just viewed as oh-so-great and still prove that I can be successful.” Jennings said in July. “A lot of times when you have a guy who creates that spotlight for himself and establishes that and takes a lot of that, it becomes so-and-so and the team,” he said. “It should always be the team … 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.”

Well, if Jennings wants to prove that he doesn’t need a top-five quarterback to succeed, catching passes from Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel in Minnesota will certainly take care of that. But implying that Rodgers doesn’t account for his own mistakes, or somehow throws his receivers under the bus? You don’t see Rodgers do that publicly, though I’m sure he — like most NFL quarterbacks — will let a guy know after a while if ball security is an issue.

“People taking shots at me who aren’t relevant to this team and to this locker room doesn’t mean a whole lot to me,” Rodgers recently told The MMQB’s Peter King. “Those comments do wash over with me without a reaction, because they don’t matter.”

BANKS: Jennings’ story shows flaw of nonstop coverage

Donald Driver, who played for the Packers from 1999 through ’12 and retired in February, had this to say about Rodgers when asked on ESPN Radio Thursday morning:

“We’ve always said that the quarterback is the one that needs to take the pressure off everyone else. 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. But I think that’s the difference. You want that leadership, and I think sometimes you may not feel like you got it. You have to earn that respect at the end of the day, and I think that’s what Greg was probably referring to.

“He’s a nice guy. I think that’s what you have to respect. I played with him five years so I was able to experience everything he went through. I saw when he first got drafted, he came in with a chip on his shoulder in that draft, and it shouldn’t have been Alex Smith [taken No. 1 overall]. That’s the way the guy is. I’ve always told Aaron, ‘Don’t forget where you come from because the people are the ones who put you on that pedestal. You didn’t put yourself there.’ I think that’s what we learning now. I’m not saying he’s a bad guy, I think he’s a great guy. I’m friends with Aaron.”

Friendly, but with an edge. Do Rodgers’ receivers have an issue with him? It seems like a legitimate question at this point, though there have been no public issues thus far — certainly none to this degree.

Driver went to his Facebook page to try to clarify his comments.

“Out [of] my 15 interviews talking about Target donating $5,000,000 to education, it is interesting that only 1 or 2 random quotes become a big deal,” Driver (or someone representing Driver) wrote. “I predicted a Super Bowl for the Packers in 10 or so interviews, and that starts with Aaron Rodgers, one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history!”

When Rodgers was talking to King, he summed up his process as a team leader, which is a pretty good way to wrap up this entire subject.

“I take it really seriously. It’s important to me. I look for my opportunities, not trying to go outside of my genuine realm, because leadership has to be genuine and authentic. I might pull a receiver aside and give him a little tidbit in the locker room, in the lunchroom. I think you need to be intentional at times about your leadership — where you’re eating lunch, who you’re interacting with, making guys feel like you’re interested in what they’re doing. If it’s authentic, then it’s going to be an easy conversation and easy hangout time. Nicknames and inside jokes go a long way with players, especially guys that maybe aren’t on your side of the ball. Like, I just found out that Andy Mulumba, our new outside backer [full name Andy Leon Mulumba Kabaluapa; he was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] — one of his names means ‘King of the Village’ and the other one means, ‘You’re Not Welcome Here.’ Instead of calling him You’re Not Welcome Here, I’ve been calling him King of the Village.

I want to be the best. I want to be counted on by my teammates. I want to be counted on by this organization and the fans. I want to be someone they know is going to bring it every single week. I prepare to be the best. I train in the offseason to be the best. I take it very seriously, and I’ve still got a long way to go.”

Sounds like a leader to us. Do leaders occasionally rub people the wrong way? Only if they’re doing their jobs to the best of their abilities.

143 comments
pparins
pparins

Yup.  Green Bay Defense.  51 to Warner, 37 to Eli at home, and 45 to the 9ers a short time ago.  That 44 a GAME allowed.   I'm from the Green Bay Farm and on Sept 8th, the Pack will be plowed under.  Candlestick's last year will put Rodgers on his rear.   And just WAIT for DING Crosby.  44 a GAME!  WOW WEE Mr. McCarthy!   

srshark
srshark

Exactly. The players that are speaking out about A. Rodgers leadership have played with him.

ElijahAllenLippert
ElijahAllenLippert

i'm not a saints fan at all I hate the Saints! but I agree Drew Brees is better than Rodgers I'd rather have Brees!

Steve99
Steve99

Ever here that about Tom Brady?

jaimoua
jaimoua

This article is a little biased, looks like it is trying to defend rodgers more if anything.  What most people have to realize though is that this is a case of "he said/ she said" and no one really knows how things are or whats going on during games between these guys. The only thing is that if more than one player comes forward about the same thing, some of it has to have some truth no matter how little.  Rodgers does look like a decent guy but you must admit, he's been kind of shady about the whole ryan braun and him thing so i wouldn't look past it that rodgers may not be the greatest leader on his team.

NewOrleansSaints
NewOrleansSaints

Rodgers is a ok quarterback but nothing compared to Drew Brees..Packers wont stand a chance against the Saints this year if they meet in the playoffs..mark my words. Over 5,000 yards plus two strait seasons in a row for Brees, a freaking legend!! ..I've never seen a quarterback more liked and loved by his teammates and fans than him. Yet people waste there time writing about Aaron Rodgers..the guy is talented but he wont win another super bowl if he keeps making his team feel less important ..thats how teams lose there heart, and all good teams need heart to win championships.  

JohnnyHoffman
JohnnyHoffman

As a hard-core Vikings fan, I wish Jennings would stay hush-hush about Rogers. I loved the friendly rivalry with Packers, I have good friends who are Packers fans yet we love to make a fun out of each others. Jennings' comments has gone too far beyond the friendly rivalry boundary. I'm betting Packers are going to school Vikings twice this year. Unfortunately.

jason2
jason2

rodgers needs to come out of the closet and be a leader in the gay community

Richard--Ramirez
Richard--Ramirez

Fraudgers is a total scumbag. Let's not forget when he big timed that cancer patient who waited all day at the airport for his autograph.

dionmax35
dionmax35

Would either of these guys be disrespecting a  Vick or RG3.    Makes you wonder if this is a race issue.  These guys sound like fools to be attempting to take aim at a guy who carried this team on his shoulders.  You tell me why else two guys who have benefited greatly from having a dead accurate QB who  showered them both with TD throws and receptions would  be suggesting negative stuff about a go who walks the walk. 

Crunch
Crunch

First, Greg Jennings is a flat-out, huge jerk and that is putting it mildly.  He was not liked around Packerland and nobody misses him at all.  

Second, if Wes Welker (or now Danny Amendola) ran the wrong route and caused Tom Brady to throw a pic, do you think Brady is saying later 'my fault, shouldn't have thrown it'?  Heck no, he is in that receiver's face as soon as they are on the sideline.  We have seen it.  So, give the QB a break.

DennyCrane
DennyCrane

So Driver runs the wrong route, the QB throws a pick, and Driver expects Rogers to say "oh, I thew the wrong route, it's my fault". So Driver thinks leadership is when Rogers "man ups" and takes responsibility for the receivers screw up. If that's the issue then I guess there's no issue.

Rogers will certainly be a first ballot candidate for the HOF and will almost certainly get elected. The chumps doing the squawking? The only way they'll get into the HOF is to buy a ticket like the rest of us.

lorensanders1963
lorensanders1963

"Do leaders occasionally rub people the wrong way? Only if they’re doing their jobs to the best of their abilities."

Exactly. Leaders lead, whiners whine.

rickysowers
rickysowers

What would these guys be saying if it was Marino,Bradshaw,Stablerand some of the other greats,probably sucking their thumbs and crying in a corner........bunch of DAMN babies

RichBich
RichBich

This is so overboard ridiculous. Not all current and former GB players feel the same about Rodgers. Big deal! Rodgers has his issues just like everyone else on this planet. One of his issues is hypersensitivity to being criticized or being perceived as a mistake maker.

whidbeytomas
whidbeytomas

It is hard to tell what's going on from our perspective. I suspect some resentment over excessive credit to Rogers, and a sense that deep down he believes it. Our talk of our behavior is never a good indication, but I get a sense that he's a bit wooden with his peers. I like his preference for accountability, I wonder if he accepts his share. When a player is as gifted as Rogers is, it can be impossible to address subtle personality issues. One thing I'll put my money on: there are issues these players had with Rogers that they couldn't  deal with when he was on the team.

friendly--neighborhood--scrawler
friendly--neighborhood--scrawler

Aaron is friends with Ryan Braun , need i say more... You are who you roll with...  I am still waiting to hear the lucky charity that will get Aaron's 2013-2014 salary because by some of your post Rodgers is a man of high moral character and that means he should be a man of his word also... (o_O)

AnthonyPatterrson
AnthonyPatterrson

Hmmm, lets'see. Tom Brady, perceived primadonna, plays with troubled players like Corey Dillon, Randy Moss, Chad Johnson, yet no stories about him being a jerk to them, despite being the most successful QB of his generation in one of the most arrogant sport fan bases in the country. 

Now, with one relatively mild and in some cases somewhat vague public "criticisms" of Rodgers, previous never-known-to-be-divas Finley, Donald Driver and Jennings are, "jealous" haters who don't know what life was like inside their own bodies during the time they played with Rodgers, according to some.

Interesting how perception can create a reality people will defend as if they really know any of these people and how life works in any field/life outside their own, especially multi-millionaire young athletes. Especially as the QB of the Green Bay Packers.



srshark
srshark

Michael Irving once said, even when Troy Aikmen threw a bad pass he didn't tell him he threw a bad pass. Irving would just say my fault, because he didn't want Aikmen second-guessing himself. It's about the team and lifting your teammates up. Irving who's won a few superbowls understood how important it was to cover for a guy when he needed it even when it was clearly his fault. Aaron Rodgers needs to learn to be a leader.

TONYT203
TONYT203

@NewOrleansSaints What do you know. Another Aints fan talkin' smack about another team. Always Drew Brees. That's all you got. After him. What else you got? You didn't win jack before he got there. You won't win jack when he leaves. Who cares how many yards he passed for? How many wins did all of those yards get you, last year? That dude threw more interceptions in one game against Atlanta, than any QB, I've ever seen. . Besides, Brees got his ring and his money. All he cares about now, is breaking records. Don't believe me. Remember when he celebrated the most, last year. When he broke a record? Or when the Aints won a game? Oh by the way, you got it wrong. Brees is the one, who will never win another Super Bowl. Not with that garbage of a defense. Then, you idiots went out and hire the most overrated DC in the history of the NFL. To coach the worst defense in the history of the NFL. Do you really think the Saints are going to make the playoff with that defense? But hey, look at the bright side. That defense CAN NOT get any worse. Talk about delusional. Do you honestly believe the Aaron Rodgers will have a hard time against that defense? Let's be real. I know that's something Aints fan can never seem to do.

TonyTheToe
TonyTheToe

@NewOrleansSaints   you are entitled to your opinion....but you miss the point....Aaron doesn't make his team feel less important.....he holds  them accountable......now, that's a genuine "here I am" sort of statement.   If the remainder of the Packer team performs like Aaron does every week.....the saints won't be in the same game with them....I love Drew Brees...I like how he handled leaving the Chargers and going to the saints....


BenZuckerman
BenZuckerman

@NewOrleansSaints Wasn't the whole point of thearticle that AR does NOT make "his team feel less important", but rather that Jennings is just acting like a spurned woman, full of pith and venom, with no solid justification for what he (she?) is saying?

That said, I also agree that Drew Brees is AWESOME.  I don't know if I would go so far as to say that he is better than AR, but they are definitely my two favorites - and both seem to be freakishly competitive, freakishly talented, very intelligent and well spoken individuals that have built great careers for themselves.  San Diego has got to be sorry that they ever let him go, and Miami even more sorry that they didn't grab him while they had the chance.

Saludos.

BenZuckerman
BenZuckerman

@JohnnyHoffman Good comment - I agree.  The rivalry is fun (and healthy), but I think that Jennings is going too far, and is also showing that there were possibly reasons why the Pack was willing to let him go.  He also seems to conveniently forget that TT offered him a much better contract the previous year, but that he though he deserved even more - and thus ended up with much less.  I wish GJ luck with the Vikings, but I am not sorry to have seen him leave The Pack - particularly now that all of this has come to light.

Azeron
Azeron

@dionmax35 They're not crushing Brett Favre.  Rodgers just isn't that guy that people gravitate to.  It's not about race.

BenZuckerman
BenZuckerman

@Crunch Well said - they are top level professionals, and expect everyone that works with them to be operating at the same high level.  These guys - particularly the "Jennings" of the world - are EXTREMELY well paid, and I don't think that that it is unreasonable to expect for them to run the correct routes!

pshrg
pshrg

@friendly--neighborhood--scrawler Doesn't sound like they're friends anymore. Rodgers is reportedly backing off the deals they had in place to open some restaurants, and he's openly stated he's not happy that Braun deceived him about PED's.

dionmax35
dionmax35

@srshark give me a break.  Your giving Irving  credit for being some heroic sage and we all know he was a great receiver but a total me,me,me guy who loved to do coke and hang with a group of two bit hookers. Irving is taking credit for stuff that never happened.  No way that jerk  told Aikman that it was his own bad when  he received a bad pass from Aikmam.  Irving wants you to believe Aikman was weak minded and could not handle being criticized and Irving had his ducks in a row and needed to figure out ways to keep Troy from falling apart.  Such BS and typical ego maniac stuff from your typical drug laced athlete who remembers the everything he did being greater than it really was. Irving would tell you that he had to loan Jerry Jones money to keep him from filing for bankruptcy if you would listen. 

MadisonGuy
MadisonGuy

@srshark Aaron Rodgers needs to learn to be a leader?  Seriously?  I don't know what makes you an authority on leadership -- that's one of the most absurd statements I've heard.
If Rodgers throws a bad pass, he doesn't need a receiver to tell him that.  He'll step up and say so.
"I want to be the best... I take it very seriously and I've still got a long way to go."  Sounds like the kind of guy I'd follow out on to the field, every practice and every week.

Mephisto
Mephisto

@srshark Michael Irvin is an idiot.  The fact is, neither of them "had to say" anything.  You go back to the huddle, next play.  Troy Aikman is and was a professional and didn't need Michael Irvin telling him whether he made a crap pass or a good pass.  He needed to shut his yapper and play the game.

Analyticaller
Analyticaller

@srsharkIt seems your example would place Aikmen in Rodgers place, asking the receiver to put the team first. Not sure how the example cited puts Rodgers at fault?

srshark
srshark

@Tom69 @NewOrleansSaints Do you really believe that. Drew Brees has never had a Greg Jennings, Donald Driver or Jordy Nelson, yet he consistently puts plays at a higher level. Men lie, women lie, numbers don't.

JamieBruce
JamieBruce

Because he is a troll, don't bother him with facts he will just lie

JamieBruce
JamieBruce

Correct, he is now the enemy so he needs to say something negative about him.

Especially with Ponder as his future qb

srshark
srshark

@dionmax35 @srshark Yes Irving did have drugs problems. However, he was a great receiver and he knows a thing or two about team play, leadership and winning.

srshark
srshark

@MadisonGuy @srshark His former teammates, not me criticized his leadership. They seem to be comparing him to Favre, and it seems like he is not in the same class when it comes to leadership.

srshark
srshark

"It should always be about the team." As Jennings said in his comments. Prior to this have you ever know Jennings to be outspoken or selfish? It's about lifting you teammates up when they need it most. Not going in on them. Sometimes you need to know that your teammates still believe in you when things aren't going well. That was the point of Irving's comments. Apparently that's something that Rodgers lacks as a leader.

davevanhandel1
davevanhandel1

@srshark @Tom69 @NewOrleansSaints Since numbers don't lie, if Rodgers had the same number of pass attempts as Brees in 2011, he'd have thrown for over 6000 yards.   Brees piles up huge stats because he throws about 150 more times than Rodgers every year.  The comparison is ridiculous.   Rodgers is like Michael Jordan, Brees is just one of many great players.

JamieBruce
JamieBruce

Irvin was a POS. should have been in prison

srshark
srshark

@Mephisto @srshark He is clearly making a comparison of the leadership of say.... Favre. He should have sour grapes after being traded from a franchise whose latest superbowl would not have happened had he not made major contributions, only to have the quarterback say Greg who. When you have respectful for players that have earned it, and certainly Jennings have earned it, there was no need for Rodgers to inject himself into what was obviously a business decision.

Mephisto
Mephisto

@srshark What makes you an authority on what goes on in the locker room of the field with the Green Bay Packers?  One doesn't need to have "played the game of football" to understand what leadership is all about.  Here, you have Greg Jennings whining about Rodgers not taking responsibility for when Jennings screws up... and saying that's a lack of leadership.  Laughable.

Leadership is taking responsibility for your own actions, good or bad, and leadership doesn't begin and end with the quarterback.  Sounds to me like Jennings just didn't feel like accepting responsibility for when he messed up and pointed the finger at the QB (sour grapes) after the fact (coward).

And, we only have his word.  Go figure...