Rodgers Needs to Act Like a Leader – Always

ESPN aired the 30 for 30, “The Two Bills,” this past Thursday.  In it, it described Bill Belichick’s career with Bill Parcells and the Giants, which began for him as the Special Team Coordinator in 1980.   It later included being a Linebacker’s coach at the same time as being a Special Team Coordinator.  Five years after joining the Giants, he became the defensive coordinator.  Lawrence Taylor who was interviewed for the show, at the time lamented the decision because he didn’t see Belichick as being up for the job, in part because he didn’t have a playing background.  At the time, Taylor was upset because he wasn’t consulted on the matter.  Five years after that, Parcells abruptly resigned due to health concerns shortly after Belichick became the head coach for the Browns.  This time, Taylor instead was grumbling that Belichick should have been the head coach of the Giants, to the point that Taylor lost a will to play  Its fair to say Taylor was quite wrong in his initial assessment.

A player complaining about a head coaches staffing decision.  Does that sound familiar?  If you are reading this, you surely have heard the quote from Aaron Rodgers on the same day The Two Bills aired.  In an interview with on ESPN’s “Golic and Wingo,” Rodgers called some of the coaching changes “A little strange,” then went further.  “Well, my quarterback coach didn’t get retained.  I thought that was an interesting change, really without consulting me.  There’s a close connection between quarterback and quarterback coach, and that was an interesting decision.”

The quarterback(s) coach he is referring to is Alex Van Pelt, who left after his contract expired, and at the time McCarthy said, “He desired to be a free agent after this season.  He wants to look at other opportunities.”   A week later he was later hired by the Bengals as their quarterback’s coach.  The full circumstances of his departure are unknown, but it seems Rodgers felt that he could have easily been retained and he doesn’t agree with that.

There is a reason, players aren’t consulted in those decisions.  And look no further than Parcells hiring Belichick.  It’s all about perspective.  Rodgers surely could provide feedback about a coach to their superior, like he can and has about players to the General Manager.  But that is from a narrow focus.  The head coach has a greater view of things, and in turn, can see the whole picture much better, as did Parcells.  It doesn’t mean that McCarthy is right or wrong, now or before, but rather why as a matter of course, the head coach has a much better view of these decisions.

Rodgers has every right to have an opinion and feel however he wants on the matter.  In fact, its impossible not to have an opinion or feelings in a case like this if you are as close to it as Rodgers is.  And he could be 100% correct, that letting Van Pelt go was a bad move.  But that doesn’t matter.  As the leader of the team, the highest paid person in the organization and the face of a franchise, under no circumstance should he be publically critical of the head coach’s staffing choices.

Anyone can relate to this as it applies to any company or organization.  If a highly respected employee of a company trashes on a higher up, in the open and without impunity, the respect that others have for that person is diminished.  Most all of us have experienced this scenario in some way shape or form.  Look at Fortune 500 companies.  There are stories and reports of in-fighting behind the scenes within upper management but rarely do you hear an employee go on record criticizing management.  And for good reason, as it is bad for the organization.

Rodgers will soon become the highest paid player in the history of the NFL.  He knows what his status is within the organization and he has no fear whatsoever.  It’s important for him to step up as a leader and show a united front with the McCarthy, especially with all the changes that have happened and that are to come.

Is this a big deal?  In a vacuum, it’s not. And we may very well forget about this by training camp.  But one has to wonder what he is like behind the scenes if he feels emboldened enough to publically criticize. and if he is a “Locker Room Lawyer.”  My hope is that he needed to be heard and will carry the flag once OTA and Training Camp starts.  If the Packers decide to move on from Nelson or Cobb, Rodgers reaction or lack thereof to Gutekunst’s decision or lack thereof would be telling.

Many in Packers’ circles have taken issue with people taking issue with Rodgers comments.  In other words, they have no problem with Rodgers publically criticizing his head coach but they have an issue with reporters, fans, and bloggers criticizing Rodgers for those comments.  That seems backward.  Its okay to criticize Rodgers.  After all that is a reporter’s job, and we as fans don’t affect how a coach is viewed inside a locker room,  In fact, we all should when its due. We all marvel at his play and no one would trade him for anyone.  And it is because of that.  Becuase he is the franchise, makes it especially important that he be a leader at all times, even in the offseason on Radio Row.