Aaron Rodgers could’ve simply said “no comment” or given a completely innocuous response when asked about the team’s initial decision not to include players on injured reserve in the official Super Bowl photo, but that’s not who the Pro Bowl quarterback is. Here’s what he said: “I was on IR back in 2006. I chose to stick around and finish out the season with my guys and be here every game. Some of those guys didn’t. And so, we love them, we care about them, we don’t wish injury on anybody, but this is a group of guys that’s really come together and has been great to work with. It’s been great to work with guys we brought in. Some of the guys who were injured, you know, they are still part of this team, but some of them didn’t choose to stick around.”
Maybe I find Rodgers’ quote so perfect because I was thinking the exact same thing when tight end Jermichael Finley and inside linebacker Nick Barnett started opining on this subject last Tuesday. While running back Ryan Grant, right tackle Mark Tauscher, defensive end Mike Neal and safety Morgan Burnett have been fixtures at 1265 Lombardi Avenue all season long, others – including Barnett and Finley – have done the vast majority of their rehabilitation away from the team. And while that isn’t necessarily wrong, it does make their decision to
speak tweet on behalf of all the players on IR look both hypocritical and self-serving. Essentially, they wanted to be in the photo because they are still part of the team, and yet they distanced themselves from said team the very minute their own individual seasons came to an end. Talk about wanting to have your cake and eat it too.
Soon after Rodgers’ comments were made public, Barnett responded – on Twitter, of course. He wrote: “Well looks like people have something to say about where some people choose to do there rehab… Try rehabing with 16 others then 53 more… Doubt you get the full attention needed.. It’s easy to speak about others when you are not in their position… Talk about ‘union’ ha.” Twitter Dumb soon typed in: “TRUE FACTS RIGHT THERE.”
It’s interesting – not to mention telling – that Rodgers and coach Mike McCarthy had no problem criticizing two of the team’s biggest stars. Why? Maybe because Barnett and Finley are outspoken players who love to draw attention to themselves. And while those personality traits would probably make them instant heroes with Rex Ryan and the Jets, it’s an act that doesn’t play nearly as well in Green Bay. McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson have worked diligently for five years to create a certain culture with the Packers – one that emphasizes the team over the individual. It’s a culture Rodgers obviously believes in and was more than willing to defend on an otherwise sleepy Saturday.