In case you somehow haven’t heard, Donald Driver appeared on ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike” last week and tried to clear the air between the offseason schism between Greg Jennings and Rodgers.
“If a guy runs the wrong route, it’s easy for the quarterback to say, ‘Hey, I told him to run that route,’ than the guy to say, ‘Hey, I ran the wrong route.’” Which normally shouldn’t be a big deal until the 14-year Packer and three-time Pro Bowler dropped this bombshell: “Sometimes you ask Aaron to take the pressure off those guys so we don’t look bad. He didn’t want to do that. He felt like if you did something bad, you do it. That’s the difference. You want that leadership. I think sometimes you may not feel like you got it.”
Those are strong words from Driver, who was considered to be the team’s mouthpiece during his final six years in Green Bay. Everyone knows the Driver comeback story. How he lived out of a U-Haul trailer, got picked 213th overall in the 1999 NFL Draft and coupled that into a Packers Hall of Fame bust after finishing with team career highs in receptions (743) and yards (10,137).
Driver doesn’t have an ax to grind here. I completely believe him.
But that’s the point — nobody cares.
Rodgers’ predecessor enjoyed being liked by his teammates. Brett Favre was the kind of guy that loved hanging out with the guys, sharing a beer and a laugh or two.
Rodgers isn’t like that. He demands ultimate perfection each play and when it doesn’t happen he puts on his verbal boxing gloves. If you remember, he even lashed out at coach Mike McCarthy when things weren’t particularly going his way last year.
Of course, the reason no one is really concerned with what Driver said is because Rodgers produces. He is the all-time career leader in passer rating with an absurd 104.9, he won a Super Bowl in his third season as a starter and he’s got a 5-3 playoff record.
Those things trump any beef that receivers may have with their quarterback when things go wrong. I understand that Rodgers needs to own it, and often does, when the offense just cannot get on track at all.
However, when the receiver didn’t run the right route, why should arguably the best signal caller in the league have to raise his hand and shout, “My bad!”
When Rodgers inked the historic five-year $100 million contract last spring, he knew that he must be even more accountable on and off the field.
Rodgers tries to make every effort to be one of the boys. Unlike Favre, who normally did his press conferences in the media room behind a mic in a controlled environment, Rodgers does all of his at his locker. Which of course is a pain in the butt for guys that are three deep in the media scrum and are behind a guy that is renowned for boxing out.
But make no mistake, Driver’s words hurt Rodgers. If Rodgers can be peeved about a simple height joke, putting his leadership into question from one of his top targets for four years might cause Rodgers to look in the mirror and wonder what he can do to up his locker room Q-rating.
However, as far as the Packers go, it doesn’t matter. Rodgers is on the fast track to Canton and the two ways he’s been able to maintain his success are by reliving all the slights against him and by constantly trying to achieve perfection.
Doing the first one is obviously a lot easier than the second.
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn