After a long, drawn-out process, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers announced on the Pat McAfee Show that his intention was to play for the New York Jets. Or rather, he claimed that he wasn’t there to announce any decision before announcing his decision.
While this eventual announcement was a long time coming and had been reported in some way or another for days, it was good to get somewhat final confirmation on Rodgers’ intentions. The intentions of the Jets and Packers were clear after Green Bay allowed New York to make contact with Rodgers and discuss a potential trade.
It was a surprisingly long appearance, and we’ve managed to come away with key takeaways on Rodgers’ appearance.
5 Takeaways From Aaron Rodgers’ Appearance on the Pat McAfee Show
Aaron Rodgers Relishes Attention
It’s clear that Rodgers enjoyed his time keeping people on their toes, something he’s done for years now, often delaying or changing decisions explicitly because his decisions were reported to the media. The attention that Rodgers has drawn to himself — all while claiming he doesn’t want to draw attention to himself or lengthen the process — has been predictable and somewhat laughable.
Every moment that Rodgers has had to either turn up the heat or turn down the temperature, he’s chosen to turn up the heat. It was possible for Rodgers to avoid media and podcast obligations until he had made a decision and silently leak that decision or write it out and publish it himself.
It took 15 minutes for Rodgers to make the announcement live on air after giving a long speech about what had happened to him in 2020, his thoughts on various members of the Packers personnel department, and why he thought Green Bay had moved on.
It’s not an issue to enjoy attention or to appreciate holding court. It’s another thing entirely to act like that isn’t something that he enjoys.
Rodgers Sabotages His Image on Purpose
When asked about the “wish list” report from ESPN’s Dianna Russini that Rodgers had a few free agents he wished for the Jets to sign, Rodgers mischaracterized the report and excoriated the nature of reporting, all while declining to correct the record when contacted by that media.
Rodgers said that the image of him “giving a sheet of paper” to the Jets during his meeting with them several days ago was incorrect and that he never made demands of the Jets. That it was a “game of telephone” that he said, “sign these guys otherwise [I] won’t come” to the Jets.
The issue is that that wasn’t in Russini’s report. She had reported that Rodgers gave the Jets a “wish list” of free agents he’d like New York to sign, not a list of demands that he required them to meet. The Jets have not signed everyone on that list, which includes Allen Lazard, Odell Beckham Jr., Randall Cobb, and Marcedes Lewis, and few people interpreted as an ultimatum.
When given the chance to correct the record, he denied the opportunity. As the report came out, Rodgers shared a story of ESPN’s Adam Schefter texting him to confirm, with Rodgers replying, “Lose my number. Nice try.”
Rodgers is trying to have it both ways. He doesn’t want people to mischaracterize what he does but denies everyone the opportunity to correct the record. It is good journalistic practice to confirm with any stakeholders involved in a story what the details of that story are. If those stakeholders deny that opportunity, it’s difficult to complain that they’ve lost control of the narrative.
This is just one of many times he’s played this game with the media, and both Rodgers and McAfee decried the “anonymous reports” in Kalyn Kahler’s piece for the Athletic describing the opaque and difficult-to-learn hand signal system Rodgers implements unilaterally during the season without preseason practice or coaching.
Once again, they mischaracterized the reporting. Kahler’s piece is not only well-sourced, but the sources are named throughout.
Rodgers Is Not Concerned About Contradiction
Throughout his appearance on the Pat McAfee Show, Rodgers claimed a set of values before acting in opposition to those values. That’s not unusual for most people, but it did stand out. Rodgers claimed to value “direct communication” but exercised the decision process in the most indirect way possible.
He claimed that he expected the process of a team to be handled like a “family,” and wanting it to be “about taking care of people,” but also claimed to have long understood that the NFL is a business and that he understands and that a new regime would want their own players.
He further indicated that he holds no malice or bitterness for the Packers and how they handled things, which was undercut by the long preface to his announcement about his desire to play for the Jets — a history lesson on his feelings about the Packers’ decision to draft Jordan Love, a progression planned stalled by his back-to-back MVP seasons, a feat he mentioned a few times.
It was important for Rodgers to claim he didn’t have a “victim mentality,” but spent more time talking about what happened to him and to his narrative than he spent talking about moving forward. The idea of a “victim mentality” is itself a suspect concept, but if it’s worth discussing, he demonstrated it.
Familiarity Matters to Rodgers
For all the jokes about Rodgers’ family or his unwillingness to speak to the media, it’s clear that he values trust and hands it out sparingly. He’s confident that his “inner circle” would never leak anything about him, and he’s limited his media appearances to a select few people outside of mandated media obligations handed down by the NFL.
Rodgers’ circle of friends is relatively small, and he’s cut people out of his life that he doesn’t trust, including — famously — his family. The “wish list” may have been characterized incorrectly in some way or another, but it’s obvious that Rodgers sticks up for people he connects with, and that includes a number of former Packers.
That’s a big reason why the Jets went on to agree to terms with Lewis and Lazard, both of whom were on the list. And it’s why he went on to the Pat McAfee Show to “not announce” his decision. He and McAfee have a long history, and Rodgers has a weekly spot on the show. McAfee benefited from this relationship, with nearly 500,000 viewers tuning in — over 10 times his normal viewership and more than the number of viewers watching the NFL Combine at its peak.
Even though this could disrupt the locker room in Green Bay or create an untenable and awkwardly crowded receiver room, Rodgers prioritizes having people around him that he knows he can trust. That’s one reason why he went to New York in the first place. He mentioned that the Jets were an attractive place for a few reasons but primarily talked about his former offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
“One of the best coaches I’ve ever played for, who I love…..happens to be [the Jets] offensive coordinator,” said Rodgers. “Him getting hired there at the time didn’t matter, it wasn’t a deciding factor, but knowing he’s there is great.”
Rodgers pushed back on the idea that the Jets hired Hackett solely to lure him over and spoke at length about what he brings to a locker room with the same enthusiasm he used to speak about former Green Bay teammate Lazard.
This isn’t unusual for quarterbacks, either. Peyton Manning brought in former Colts receivers into Denver, and Tom Brady reunited with several teammates in Tampa Bay. But the extent to which Rodgers prioritizes this speaks not just to what he wants on the field but to who he surrounds himself with throughout his life.
The details still need to be ironed out and compensation has to be decided on between Green Bay and New York — as well as between the Jets and Rodgers — but the sense of waiting is over. The rest of free agency can proceed apace, and the NFL world can move on.