The Slinger Supporting Aaron Rodgers

So great.

Jim Rome
April 30, 2020 - 10:22 am
Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre

USA Today

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According to multiple reports this morning, the Cincinnati Bengals are releasing Andy Dalton. Clown the Red Rifle all you want, but it’s the end of what was actually a pretty good run. That said, the fact that he’s being released is not surprising. It was completely expected. If you draft Joe Burrow, you’re releasing Andy Dalton. That’s how it goes. That is not at all surprising. Even if Dalton was willing to stick around as a backup, that wasn’t happening either. Not with his cap number. 

That’s this morning’s big quarterback move. But I’m still shocked by the bomb the Packers dropped last week in the draft. It’s been a week and I am still stunned that the Green Bay Packers selected Jordan Love in the first round. Not that Jordan Love was taken in the first round, but that the Packers were the ones who took him.

And nearly as shocking as the pick itself, is Brett Favre, of all people, coming to Aaron Rodgers’ defense. I know they have become better friends in recent years, but when you consider how Favre treated Rodgers in the early years, it’s wild to think that Favre would be riding so hard and so publicly for Rodgers.

The ol Gunslinger told Rich Eisen that "Green Bay's not going anywhere without Aaron Rodgers in the next few years. If he plays like we expect him to play, they've got a shot with or without a first-round receiver. So I would do all I could to not burn that bridge, and I don't think they did that. I think they burned a bridge that's going to be hard to overcome. At some point, I think it will rear its ugly head."

Bam! That’s actually pretty amazing. That’s one legendary Packer quarterback sticking up for another, and smashing the team at the same time. Nothing PC about that. No, I’m sort of stuck in between a rock and hard place: I mean, Aaron’s my guy now, but the Packers are my family. None of that. He’s saying the team did Aaron all wrong; the team just obliterated that bridge with Rodgers. And he didn’t there. He had more: "They don't draft any weapons -- not just in the first round but any weapons that can help immediately, to my knowledge. And that just sends a disrespectful message to Aaron Rodgers. He has every right to be disappointed if he is."

In other words, as Favre sees it, not only did you not draft any weapons that could help Rodgers, but you drafted the guy who you want to have taken his job. And you moved up to do it. And you were celebrating like you won the Super Bowl when it happened.   

Because as I’ve said before, this is different than Rodgers being drafted in 2005. At that time, Favre had turned in some rough performances, especially in the playoffs. And there had already been talk of retirement. And Rodgers fell to them in the draft. All reasons why this is so different from that. 

To hear Andrew Brandt, who was in the Packers draft room at the time, tell it in a piece in Sports Illustrated, the team did not want to be taking a quarterback in the first round because they knew how Favre and Favre fans would react. But there was no value left in the first round and nobody wanted to trade with them. They couldn’t trade out of that pick. 

Since they were stuck with the pick, they took the guy who would become the face of the franchise, a Super Bowl champion, and an absolute legend. In 2005, they almost did it reluctantly.

That’s not what happened last week. In 2020, they jumped at the chance. They didn’t wait for Love to fall to them, they traded up to get him. That’s wild. And disrespectful.   Favre is right. They weren’t’ looking for Favre’s replacement in 2005. But they clearly were looking for Rodgers’ in 2020).   

In a draft where 36 receivers were selected, the Packers took none, arguably their biggest area of need. And by now, everyone knows the Packers have not taken a wide receiver or running back in the first round in the last 15 years.

And there was more. The Slinger was still firing. He’s on this topic like it’s an armadillo on his property.

To the question of whether Rodgers will finish his career with the Packers, Favre said "My gut tells me no. I don't know this for certain, but I guarantee you, it's got the wheels turning in Aaron's mind. If that's the case, then that means there's a chip on his shoulder toward the organization that otherwise was not there. All he needs is a reason other than this reason to expedite that."

It’s not just a matter of whether Rodgers is pissed, because he has every right to be pissed. Taking Jordan Love after Rodgers dragged them to the NFC Championship game IS a slap in the face. But it’s not just about the insult of the pick, it’s about the reality of the pick.

If the Packers are going to get value from it, they have to play Love and they have to do it in the next few years. You don’t draft a guy in the first round to have him sit on the bench for five years. The value of a rookie quarterback is when he’s on his rookie contract. So you have to find out what you have in him when you get the chance.

Then there is the matter of whether Rodgers will mentor Love. Interestingly, Favre had thoughts on that as well and the fact that Rodgers reached out to Love after he was picked. 

"I'm not surprised that he reached out to Jordan, being in a similar situation himself 15 years ago. And we had a great relationship in spite of -- I wouldn't say it took a turn for the worst when I left, but he was basically caught up in the middle of a hornet's nest, if you will. I don't foresee that happening here. I think Aaron will do whatever. It's not his job to mentor Jordan Love.”

I would agree. It’s not Rodgers job to mentor Love. But I also wouldn’t say that its Rodgers job to treat Love the way Favre reportedly treated Rodgers in the early years, which was terrible. If you read Jeff Pearlman’s book on Favre, it’s pretty rich for Favre to be claiming that they had a great relationship in the early days. Because they didn’t. So there’s obviously some revisionist history there. But Favre makes a good point, why would Rodgers go out of his way to help a guy who is there to rip his job?

"This discussion went on when I left Green Bay. It's not the head guy's job to mentor the next guy. That guy's ultimately there to take your spot. Now, if Jordan were to ask, 'Can I watch extra film with you?' I would be shocked if Aaron said no. I think he would go over and beyond to help, but he's not going to go out of his way, and I can't blame him."

Again, I’m not sure what’s more surprising: the Packers drafting Love, Favre being so vociferous in support of Rodgers, or Favre talking about mentoring or not mentoring a younger quarterback.

If you had told me 15 years ago that Brett Favre would be loudly and publicly fighting on behalf of Aaron Rodgers, I wouldn’t have never believed you. 

Then again, if you’d have told me 15 days ago that the Packers would draft Jordan Love in the first round and no weapons for Rodgers, I wouldn’t have believed you either.

I’m sure Rodgers is pissed. And he has every right to be. And so does every Packer fan.  This team, was this close to getting to the Super Bowl, Rodgers has lost very little and is still playing at a very high level: they should be doing everything they can, to get him everything he needs before that window slams shut. Instead the team seems to be doing the opposite and slamming it shut on him; or in the very least, they’re showing in the door Maybe not this season, but Favre is right when he says Rodgers won’t retire a Packer. Not unless he retires; and knowing Rodgers the way we do, there’s no way he’s doing that. Not unless he goes out on his own terms and the Packers clearly aren’t allowing that to happen.