Is Aaron Rodgers Leaving the Green Bay Packers? Did Adam Schefter Lie?

Featured

Photo from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

By Terrance Turner

April 28, 2021

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers reportedly wants out.

NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported the bombshell development: “Reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers is so disgruntled with the Green Bay Packers that he has told some within the organization that he does not want to return to the team, league and team sources told ESPN on Thursday.

The Packers are aware of his feelings, concerned about them and have had team president Mark Murphy, general manager Brian Gutekunst and head coach Matt LaFleur each fly out on separate trips to meet with Rodgers at various points this offseason, sources told ESPN.”

But the writing may already be on the proverbial wall. Former ESPN host Trey Wingo tweeted today that the two parties have been engaged in a “bleep show” for days. According to Wingo, Rodgers has already informed the team that he’s headed out the door:

Over the past week (and even before that), teams have been calling, ESPN says. “The San Francisco 49ers called the Packers on Wednesday night, a source told ESPN, and the Los Angeles Rams inquired about Rodgers in January before they traded for Matthew Stafford.The Packers quickly dismissed the Rams’ overtures, the source said.” (The 49ers part is especially interesting: Rodgers, who was born in California, had originally wanted to play for San Francisco when he began his career.)

But reporter Tom Pelissero put the brakes on these headlines, saying that there’s “zero” chance of the Packers trading Rodgers. While teams have inquired about Rodgers this offseason, no team has made a trade offer for the three-time MVP, a source told ESPN. The Packers have even offered to extend Rodgers’ contract, sources told ESPN. But veteran NFL reporter Ian Rapoport says that negotiations have broken down:

Why is Rodgers unhappy? Schefter says: “Rodgers is unhappy for a variety of reasons, with some of it dating to last year’s draft when the Packers didn’t inform him before trading up to draft a quarterback with their first-round pick. (The Packers selected Jordan Love.) Some took this as a sign that his days in Green Bay could be numbered.” But after Rodgers’ sensational performance in the 2020 season, today’s news comes as a shock.

No NFL player has ever been traded after winning the MVP award in the previous season. The only MVPs to not return to their team in the season after winning the award were Norm Van Brocklin (retired after winning in 1960) and Jim Brown (retired after winning in 1965), per ESPN. Rodgers won the NFL MVP Award in February, after a stellar season in which he threw 48 touchdowns.

During his acceptance speech, Rodgers casually mentioned that he’d gotten engaged. It was later revealed that his bride-to-be is actress Shailene Woodley, whom he’d been quietly dating for all of six months. The two visited Disney World in Florida weeks ago, while Rodgers was doing a guest hosting stint on the show “Jeopardy!” Rapoport adds:

UPDATE (May 1, 2021): Rodgers broke his silence today. In an off-camera conversation with Mike Tirico, Rodgers confirmed that he is discontented with the organization. The two spoke at the Kentucky Derby; Rodgers didn’t want to speak on camera. But Tirico relayed his sentiments via Twitter today, saying that Rodgers was “disappointed” about how the matter had become public.

UPDATE (MAY 6, 2021): When Adam Schefter “broke” the news about Aaron Rodgers wanting out of Green Bay — one week ago today — I went into a frenzy. I brought together data and alternate sources to form the bulk of my story, which was based partly on Schefter’s reporting. I quickly crafted this story (and took time away from packing for an upcoming trip) because I believed this to be a breaking story. It in fact was not.

Today, Schefter admitted that he had been sitting on the story for weeks, only releasing it on the day of the NFL Draft. In an interview with host Dan Patrick, Schefter conceded that he had written and released the story without new info. Schefter cited an interview Rodgers had given after the Packers lost the AFC Championship Game to the Buccaneers. That interview gave the impression that Rodgers had “unhappiness” or “uncertainty” about his future, Schefter said. Schefter eventually admitted that he had released the story with no new information. But that revelation came only after some direct questioning by Patrick.

“So you chose to release the news on Draft Day?” Patrick asked.

“That is absolutely accurate, yes,” Schefter replied.

“So it wasn’t something that you got information about…?” Patrick asked.

“No,” Schefter answered. “And it was nothing that morning that came in.”

Patrick noted that, according to Schefter, his information “didn’t come from Rodgers, didn’t come from the Packers, I was wondering: OK, you’re not gonna tell me your source–“

“Dan!” Schefter insisted. “There’s not a source.

Interesting. Schefter wrote in his article that “league and team sources told ESPN on Thursday.” But now he’s revealing that the story wasn’t based on anything that “came in” that Thursday morning. And that “there’s not a source”. Does that mean sources didn’t tell ESPN anything on Thursday? Or that there was no “source” at all? Because that would be a lie.

Schefter claimed that “it just happened to be draft day” when he released the story. Unclear how truthful that is. Updates will be made public as they become available.

Inside Aaron Rodgers’ Shocking Engagement

Featured

By Terrance Turner

Feb. 23, 2021

Aaron Rodgers shocked the world on Feb. 6.

During his acceptance speech for the MVP award at the NFL Honors, Rodgers reflected on 2020 and casually dropped a bombshell: “I got engaged, and I played some of the best football of my career.” He later thanked his fiancée in his acknowledgements, though he did not name her.

Now, we know who the lucky lady is: Big Little Lies actress Shailene Woodley. She confirmed the news last night, during an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. When Fallon asked her directly, Woodley answered affirmatively: “Yes. We are engaged.”

The world was shocked by the announcement of their betrothal — after a whirlwind six-month romance. But Woodley doesn’t get why everyone is so surprised. “But for us it’s not new news. So it’s kind of funny. Everybody right now is freaking out over it and we’re like, ‘Yeah, we’ve been engaged for awhile,’” said Woodley. (Maybe people are “freaking out” because of the breakneck escalation of their relationship? Rodgers broke up with racecar driver Danica Patrick in July but got engaged to Woodley by February.)

But if Woodley’s comments are any indication, this betrothal may have been official for some time: “Yeah, we got engaged awhile ago and it’s been … he’s, first off, a wonderful, incredible human being. But I never thought I’d be engaged to somebody who threw balls for a living. But I never thought as a little girl, ‘Yeah, when I grow up I’m going to marry someone who throws balls, yeah!’ But he’s really just so good at it,” she said. “He can throw fast balls, he can throw slow balls, high balls, low balls.” (Indeed: Rodgers had a 70.7% completion percentage in 2020, throwing 48 touchdowns and just five interceptions. So he throws balls very well indeed.)

Fallon then asked her if she’s spent much time in Green Bay and if she is a football fan. “I didn’t really grow up with sports, especially American sports. It was never really on my radar,” she explained. “When we met, also, I knew he was a football guy, but I didn’t know like what kind of a football guy he was. And I’m still constantly learning.”

Despite Rodgers’ legendary career — he took Green Bay to the NFC Championship this year and led Green Bay to a Super Bowl in 2010 — Woodley doesn’t know much about football. “I still have never been to a football game,” Woodley said. That includes this past season: because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Packers stadium was closed. And before she met Rodgers, she hadn’t even watched a game on TV. “Before I met him, I’d never seen one football game,” she said.

“When we met, I knew he was a football guy, but I didn’t know what kind of a football guy he was,” said Woodley. “I am still constantly learning. I don’t get it. He’s good. He’s great. But, like, I don’t understand. Because I don’t know him as the football guy! I know him as like, the nerd who wants to host Jeopardy! That’s the dude I know. He just happens to also be very good at sports.”

The engagement took many by surprise, but E! Online quoted a source who echoed Woodley’s nonchalance. “It’s a quick engagement, but for those that know them, it didn’t come as a surprise.” The source added:  “They had a very intense connection from the beginning. They both knew early on that it was something special and different from what they had experienced in other relationships.” The source also revealed: “They have spent the entire fall together and lived together throughout.”

The engagement is remarkable not just for its rapid pace but for the unusually private way that it unfolded. The two have yet to even be photographed together! Elle magazine described their relationship as “private and low-key” in an article earlier this month. Also remarkable: the sudden shift in Rodgers’ closely guarded personal life. Rodgers, who turned 37 last year, has never married and has no children. For viewers like me, who thought of him as a career-centered, eternal bachelor, the news comes as a shock.

Until now, Rodgers was something of a statistical anomaly. According to the 2015 American Community Survey, 72% of men will marry by age 37. And 76% of men are married by 40. According to a 2009 data brief by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “The probability that men will marry by age 40 is 81%; for women, it is 86%.”

UPDATE (April 26): Rodgers recently finished a two-week stint as host of the show “Jeopardy!”, which he’s been a fan of since childhood. During the trip, Rodgers and Woodley visited Disney World in Florida, where they were photographed at the Grand Floridian Resort. While there, they took part in a brief interview. Asked “What is one thing that makes you smile?” the two instantly pointed at each other. Rodgers added: “You always make me smile.”

NFL Honors

Photo from Twitter @DangeRussWilson

By Terrance Turner

Feb. 6, 2021

Tonight, NFL players were honored for their incredible feats of athleticism over the season. But at tonight’s NFL Honors, behind-the-scenes contributors, frontline workers, and devoted fans were also applauded. A slew of new Hall of Fame inductees were announced, Derrick Henry and Alex Smith picked up awards, and Aaron Rodgers shocked the world with a game-changing announcement.

Former player and commentator Cris Carter introduced Super Bowl Honorary Captain James Martin. A Marine from West Pennsylvania, Martin did three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan that left him paralyzed from the chest down. With the help of Wounded Warrior Project, he taught himself to walk again. He began volunteering, opening his home to teenagers in need.

“Teamwork makes the small mighty, the dispirited whole, and the impossible possible,” Martin said. “We can see the power of teamwork every Sunday in the fall, when some of the best athletes on earth team up to blow our minds.” He introduced the Bridgestone Clutch Performance of the Year award.

The award for Clutch Play of the Year went to Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. In an incredible last-gasp play vs. the Bills, Murray heaved the ball into the air and across the field. Murray jumped up amid three defenders and caught it. Hopkins thanked the City of Phoenix for welcoming him after his trade from Houston. He dedicted his award to the city.

Peyton Manning, whose legendary career included Super Bowl rings with the Colts and the Broncos, was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. According to NBC Sports, “Manning, 44, started his career with the Indianapolis Colts and helped them reach two Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl XLI. Manning then played the final four years of his career with the Denver Broncos and reached two more Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl 50.” He is the only QB in NFL history to start, and win, a Super Bowl with two different teams.

Manning is a five-time NFL MVP and 14-time Pro Bowler. Manning holds the record for the most passing touchdowns in a single season (55), a record that he set with the Broncos in 2013. Manning also broke the record for the most passing yards (5,477) in a single season with Denver that year. He retired after winning his second ring in 2016.

Defensive back Charles Woodson also was inducted, along with Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson. According to the Associated Press, “Also making it were guard Alan Faneca, who made nine Pro Bowls and missed only one game over 13 seasons with the Steelers, Jets and Cardinals; and John Lynch, the hard-hitting safety who burnished his reputation in Tampa Bay, which plays Kansas City for the Super Bowl title Sunday.

Other inductees included Cowboys receiver Drew Pearson, Raiders coach Tom Flores and longtime Steelers scout Bill Nunn, who made it in the senior, coach and contributor categories, respectively. Tom Flores has four Super Bowl rings, including rings won as player, assistant coach, and head coach. He is the is the first Latino to start at quarterback and the first coach of color to win a Super Bowl. Now, he has a place in the Hall of Fame.

Alex Smith won Comeback Player of the Year after overcoming a career-threatening leg infection. Rams defensive end Aaron Donald won Defensive Player of the Year. The award for Offensive Player of the Year went to Titans running back Derrick Henry, who had 17 rushing touchdowns this season. Clad in a highlighter neon suit, Henry presented the NFL Fan of the Year to Titans superfan Brandon Galloway. (Henry himself was later named FedEx Ground Player of the Year.) 49ers general manager John Lynch was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Lynch played safety for the Buccaneers, winning a Super Bowl with them, and last year guided the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance.

Aaron Rodgers remembered longtime producer Maura Mandt, who died at 53 last February. Mandt began working on the ESPYS as a production assistant in the 1990s, became a producer on the show later in the decade and was named executive producer in 2002. She eventually produced ESPN’s annual awards show through her own company- she produced the ESPYs for 25 years.

ESPYS writer and producer Aaron Cohen remembered Mandt in a story posted Saturday on The Ringer, calling her “one of the most powerful and influential people in sports and entertainment for years.” ESPN executive vice president of content Connor Schell credited Mandt with the moment when a group of women abused by team doctor Larry Nassar took the stage in 2018. “It was Maura’s vision that made possible the unforgettable moment when 140 ‘Sister Survivors’ took the ESPYS stage in 2018 to accept the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage,” Schell told ESPN.

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, among others, remembered Mandt. In an emotional montage, footage of Mandt working feverishly was mixed with photos of her with Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, and LeBron James. “Leslie Odom, Jr. sang a moving version of “You’ve Got a Friend” during the “In Memoriam” segment.

After Flores was presented with the induction, Aaron Rodgers won MVP. “It’s an honor to win this award for the third time,” Rodgers said via video while accepting the award. He recalled the ups and downs of the season — having COVID-19 tests every day and “playing for very little fans”, but also “some amazing, memorable moments”. He thanked his team and the Green Bay Packers staff, among many others.

In a moment that caught many viewers off guard, Rodgers revealed things he’s did over the past year: “I got engaged, and I played some of the best football of my career.” He thanked his fiancée in his acknowledgements. I literally had to rewind my television to make sure I had heard correctly. Twitter was surprised, to say the least.

Rodgers closed with a poignant list of directives to everyone watching. “Read books, meditate, speak things to life, manifest the desires of your heart, question everything, and spread love and positivity,” Rodgers said. “Peace and love. Good night.”

After Peyton Manning was inducted in to the Hall of Fame, the inspirational vibes continued with Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. “There’s difficulties ahead. There’s challenges in every circumstance. There’s challenges in every community,” Wilson said. “I do believe in this one thing, and that thing is hope. If we come together, if we love together, we can make the world a better place.” He spoke to raise awareness of his Why Not You foundation, which awards scholarships to first-generation college students who would not otherwise have the financial support.

Upon winning the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, Wilson framed his monologue as a message to his late father. He acknowledged the many losses in 2020 — losing a sports icon in Kobe Bryant, losing a film icon in Chadwick Boseman. Losing George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Losing so many to this “monster of a pandemic”. But while he talked about loss, Wilson talked mostly about love. He thanked people he loves: his wife Ciara, their children, Wilson’s brother and sister. His mother: “Mom, thank you for teaching me how to love,” Wilson said.

Love was the answer in Wilson’s speech, which quoted 1 Corinthians 13 in the final lines. “Love is patient. Love is kind. Love changes things,” Wilson said. “Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love changes things.”

Buccaneers Steamroll Packers Amid Sports Frenzy in Tampa Bay

By Terrance Turner

The Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup.

The Tampa Bay Rays are headed to the World Series.

And the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 4-2.

The Buccaneers stunned the once-undefeated Green Bay Packers Sunday evening with a burst of offensive power. Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady shined, leading the team to its fourth win. According to UPI, Brady completed 17 of 27 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns in the 38-10 win on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers went 16 for 35 and threw two interceptions.

The Packers jumped out to a 10-point lead early, but then the Buccaneers scored 38 unanswered points. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers got picked off by Bucs cornerback Jamel Dean in the second quarter. Dean lit up the team with a 32-yard interception return to the end zone. That pick-six put the Bucs on the board.

Another interception by Rodgers opened the door to a TD rush by Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II. That touchdown put Tampa Bay up 14-10, its first lead of the day. It was a lead that the team would never let go.

Later, Brady slung another touchdown pass to Bucs receiver Tyler Johnson as the second quarter wound down. Then, with just over a minute left in the first half, Brady threw a laser-point pass to Bucs tight end Rob Gronkowski. It was Gronk’s first touchdown of the season — and his first in nearly two years. The last time Gronkowski caught a touchdown, it was 2018 — 679 days ago — in a Patriots game versus the Miami Dolphins.

That added to an already commanding lead. The game was 28-10 at halftime.

Rodgers continued to struggle in the second half, contending with an aggressive Bucs defense that swarmed and sometimes sacked him. (Tampa Bay’s Ndamukong Suh was especially difficult to evade.) Rodgers’ woes continued when Packers offensive tackle David Bakhtiari suffered a chest injury and had to return to the locker room.

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay continued to roll. Kicker Ryan Succop drilled a 50-yard field goal to give the Bucs a 21-point lead. And the team benefited from some costly mistakes by its opponent. A massive defensive pass interference call on the Packers was followed by a flag for having too many men on the field. Those penalties set up Tampa Bay’s next (and final) touchdown, courtesy of running back Ronald Jones. The Buccaneers defeated Green Bay handily, 38-10.

Notably, the Buccaneers were one of the most penalized teams going into this game. But they managed to play this game from start to finish without any penalties. The Buccaneers haven’t played a penalty-free game since 1983.

“… It was good. I think not turning the ball over helped a lot and I think not being behind on down and distance helped a lot,” Brady said after the win, per the team. “But certainly (there are) better things that we can do (and) things better than what we did today. We’re going to keep working at it.”