The Packers just made a splash in the news cycle on the cusp of the free agency frenzy. Don’t kid yourself, it had nothing to do with any free agent directly related to the Packers. It was a casual, logical comment from Aaron Rodgers on a radio show, followed by a passive-aggressive clickbait story from a 3rd rate reporter, followed by a tweet from Rodgers calling shenanigans on said 3rd rate reporter that kicked things into high gear.
A background leading up to the recent news is necessary. During the Packers’ Super Bowl run in early 2011, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk published a baseless, unprovoked hit piece on Aaron Rodgers in regards to him blowing off a cancer patient in the Green Bay airport. After it was clear that Rodgers obviously didn’t notice the patient when walking past her, Florio backpedaled on his hit piece with the speed of a hall of fame defensive back. He immediately posted the extensive apology piece and waddled off with his proverbial tail between his legs. Despite being outed in such embarrassing fashion, Florio would go on to prove that he still can’t let a vendetta go, for whatever reason.
Now, Rodgers has a reputation for calling out the people and events that have slighted him. Some argue he does so almost obsessively. One argument some have is that pro athletes should expect the tabloid-like news that comes with being in the spotlight.
The opposing argument is that one should have the right to defend themselves when falsely accused of wrongdoing, especially toward a libelous extent. Picture yourself getting falsely accused of treating a cancer patient like garbage. How would you feel about that accusation? Now, imagine that accusation being published nationally by a website sponsored by NBC. Next, imagine that you have been responsible for large amounts of money going to a charity for cancer such as the MACC fund. When some hack reporter posts tabloid-like trash about you on a national platform, wouldn’t you be fired up?
Fast-forward to the 2016 season. When the Packers were reeling, Rodgers referred to reports of friction with Mike McCarthy as false. Specifically, such reports from Mike Florio were referred to as “crap”. Everyone knows that wounds heal over time. Florio’s wounds had healed enough since his 2011 journalistic embarrassment that he gleefully responded to Rodgers’ assessment.
Now, to the present and on the brink of free agency in 2017. Rodgers casually mentions that his annual compensation could warrant a reevaluation if someone who has essentially been a career backup is about to sign with a desperate team (Da Bears!) and is going to make more money than him. This is a logical analysis to any job in any industry. Florio almost instantly publishes a story inferring that Rodgers wants a new contract, with the beginning of the piece taking shots at him. Rodgers quickly proceeded to accurately brand the story as #fakenews via his Twitter account and downplay his comments.
Let’s call it like it is. Florio has had it out for Rodgers for years. That’s his right and he can question all he wants. The problem is with his being overzealous to paint him in a negative light without merit and abuse that privilege on a national platform. Packer fan or not, Florio is a substantiated hack.
________________John Piotrowski is a UW-Eau Claire alum, spending most of his life in western WI. He makes the trek east to Lambeau whenever possible. Follow him on twitter at @piosGBP.