Aaron Rodgers is going to say something next week. It may not have anything to do with his standoff against the Green Bay Packers, and it may not be related to the NFL, but putting his face before a large media spotlight will mean something.
For the second time since news emerged that Rodgers was upset with the Packers and didn’t want to return to the team, the quarterback will make a media appearance of sorts. First it was with NBC’s Mike Tirico at the Kentucky Derby, when Rodgers said nothing of the Packers, leaving the well-regarded broadcaster to do his best to explain why there was a divide between the star and his team. Now Rodgers is slated to make a guest appearance with ESPN’s Kenny Mayne on his final show for the network on Monday, roughly two weeks before Rodgers would be expected to report for Green Bay’s mandatory minicamp on June 8.
The appearance with Mayne during his final show at ESPN makes sense, given that he and Rodgers have developed a good-natured relationship over the years. Mayne has interviewed the quarterback multiple times for the network, including once in early April, on the heels of Rodgers' "Jeopardy!" hosting and only a few weeks prior to the news of Rodgers’ rift with the Packers. While the interview was on the lighter side, Mayne asked Rodgers some direct questions about his future in Green Bay.
It was all executed in a playful bout of snark and smiling between the two, but Rodgers ducked questions about the state of his immediate and long-term future with the Packers. Given the reported state of the relationship between Rodgers and Green Bay’s management, the interview is worth watching again. And it makes Monday’s appearance worth the viewership time, too, although it’s possible that Rodgers is merely making an appearance to celebrate Mayne’s footprint at ESPN before the longtime anchor walks out the door.
Even if that’s the case, Rodgers’ silence since the airing of his issues in Green Bay has made almost everything he does news. Whether it’s an appearance at the Derby with fiancee Shailene Woodley or the couple’s trip to Hawaii this week, Rodgers’ every move — and every word — is now being studied for some hint at what’s coming next. So too will be any lack of words. That means if he appears on Mayne’s final show Monday and says nothing to quell media reports of his unhappiness, that will be measured as a sign that things have not improved with the team.
The bottom line remains what it has been for nearly the past month: Until Rodgers characterizes what is happening himself, everyone will continue to focus on the June 8 mandatory minicamp reporting date as the first (public) watershed moment in the standoff. Either he shows up and moves on with the team, or he holds out and amps up the focus on the impasse into the break before training camp. For now, the Packers appear to be already signaling what is coming — signing quarterbacks Blake Bortles and Kurt Benkert in the run-up to minicamp. Along with 2020 first-round draft pick Jordan Love, Bortles and Benkert give the team the requisite trio of quarterbacks typically necessary for the on-field work during a minicamp.
What it doesn’t do is signal with absolute certainty that Rodgers won’t be in camp. At this point, only Rodgers can do that, either by failing to show up, failing to speak up Monday with Mayne — or both.
Whatever avenue Rodgers chooses, there will be no shortage of people watching to see where this all goes next.
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