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#pounditFriday, January 22, 2021

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers hints at how he felt after Packers drafted Jordan Love

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers had arguably the best season of his career in 2020, and it came after many wondered if the Green Bay Packers were in the early stages of giving up on him. In order to play as well as he did, Rodgers says he had to free himself of that narrative.

The Packers decided to use their first-round pick in last year’s draft on former Utah State quarterback Jordan Love. In an interview with Michael Silver of this week, Rodgers said one of his most important tasks last offseason was pushing away negative thoughts after the draft.

“You know, especially after the draft, it was important for me mentally to get to a place of freedom with that — freedom from bitterness, freedom from expectations, freedom from future thinking — and I feel like I did,” Rodgers told Silver. “It gave me a really good peace and calm about the season and to be able to focus.”

Rodgers said he had to remind himself that certain things are out of his control. He added that he holds no ill will toward anyone in the Packers organization over the Love pick.

“I’m not fighting against it, and I haven’t harbored any angst or frustration with anybody in the organization,” he said. “I’m really content with where I’m at, and I feel like it’s helped me to be very clear-minded all year.”

This is not the first time Rodgers has admitted he was bothered by the Love pick. That is hardly a surprise, as any quarterback still playing at a high level would prefer that his team use a first-round pick on a player other than his potential replacement.

Rodgers threw for 4,299 yards, 48 touchdowns and just five interceptions this season. His 121.5 passer rating is the second-highest mark in NFL history behind his own 122.5 in 2011. He’s almost certainly going to win his third MVP Award.

If the Love pick motivates Rodgers to win another Super Bowl and keep playing at a high level, it will have been worth it for Green Bay. Tom Brady was clearly irritated after the New England Patriots drafted Jimmy Garoppolo in 2014, and Brady went on to lead New England to three more Super Bowls after that. The 37-year-old Rodgers may be headed down a similar path.

Aaron Rodgers seemingly takes shot at Packers’ front office

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers has not hidden the fact that he was unhappy with the Green Bay Packers’ decision to draft Jordan Love in the first round, and the former MVP does not seem like he has gotten over the move more than seven months later.

During his Tuesday appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show,” Rodgers spoke about the importance of records and milestones and said he does not think he is anywhere close to retirement. He then appeared to take a swipe at the Packers’ brass.

“When it comes to records and milestones, I love them,” Rodgers said. “I do take pride in them. I think they’re more things you look back on when you’re done playing. I don’t think I’m done by any stretch of the imagination, even though some people may have thought so in the offseason.”

Rodgers could claim he was referring to fans and the media, but McAfee’s reaction said it all. Rodgers is a weekly guest on McAfee’s show and the two have a close relationship, and Pat clearly thought there was a lot behind that remark.

If the Love pick motivates Rodgers to win another Super Bowl and keep playing at a high level, it will have been worth it for Green Bay. Tom Brady was clearly irritated after the New England Patriots drafted Jimmy Garoppolo in 2014, and Brady went on to lead New England to three more Super Bowls after that. Rodgers has admitted he wasn’t thrilled when Green Bay drafted Love, though he is not holding anything against the rookie.

One Packers legend believes it is only a matter of time before Rodgers leaves the team. That may or may not happen, but it would stand to reason that Rodgers’ relationship with Packers executives is not on the most solid ground.

Aaron Rodgers can’t keep up with all of Philip Rivers’ children

Aaron Rodgers

Philip Rivers has enough children to fill up a hockey team, baseball team, and nearly have a full 5-on-5 basketball game. But Aaron Rodgers admits he lost track of Rivers’ children count.

Rodgers appeared on “The Dan Patrick Show” for an interview on Wednesday and talked about protocol for quarterbacks greeting each other after games. That likely came up because of Tom Brady’s recent snubs.

Rodgers says it depends on several factors, such as the relationship between the players, and how a player feels about seeing opponents after a game.

Patrick then joked to the Green Bay Packers quarterback that you can’t ask Rivers about his kids because then the conversation would never end, since Rivers has nine kids. That’s when Rodgers admitted he lost count of the amount of children Rivers has.

“It’s funny, because I said, ‘are you guys working on No. 9 yet? He said ‘we already had No. 9.’ I thought eight was the last one,” Rodgers joked.

Word emerged late in the 2018 season that Rivers was expecting his ninth child. He and his wife have seven girls and two boys.

Rivers is 38 and has been in the NFL since 2004. He was one draft class ahead of Rodgers, who was selected in 2005. The two have been among the best quarterbacks in the league over the last decade-plus.

Aaron Rodgers rips those who made death threats to Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers quickly came to the defense of Marquez Valdes-Scantling after Sunday’s costly fumble, and it’s clear the Green Bay Packers quarterback will continue supporting his teammate going forward.

Rodgers spoke about Valdes-Scantling’s overtime fumble during his weekly appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” Tuesday. Valdes-Scantling said after the loss to the Indianapolis Colts that he received death threats on social media, and Rodgers ripped Packers fans who would take things that far.

“I think we need some perspective in this time about production. Everybody wants to make these knee-jerk reactions to things and you forget about the facts — as the kids say these days, the big facts — that there’s a human element to this,” Rodgers said. “Anybody who is so distraught about this that they need to go to Twitter and talk about killing someone, I would suggest that you relax.

“It’s a game. We’re all trying our best. We’re trying to entertain you, but we’re also trying to do our best because we have a lot of pride in our performance. Nobody’s trying to do anything to f— up our season or your precious watching experience.”

You can hear Rodgers’ full remarks below, but beware that the clip contains some inappropriate language:

The Packers got the ball first in overtime, and Valdes-Scantling fumbled at his own 30-yard line after catching a quick pass from Rodgers. That put the Colts in field goal position and essentially handed them the win. It was a huge physical mistake, but Rodgers and others defended MVS over it after the game.

No one feels worse about the play than Valdes-Scantling. Unfortunately, he is not the first NFL player this season — or even this month — to receive threats on social media over an on-field mistake.

Aaron Rodgers defends Marquez Valdes-Scantling after costly fumble

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers isn’t throwing Marquez Valdes-Scantling under the bus after the wide receiver’s costly fumble in Sunday’s loss.

Valdes-Scantling coughed up the ball at his own 30-yard line after making a catch early in overtime against Indianapolis. Colts defensive lineman DeForest Buckner recovered, setting his team up for a straightforward game-winning field goal.

After the game, Rodgers defended his wide receiver, saying it was essentially just bad timing.

“I have a lot of love for Marquez,” Rodgers said, via Matt Schneidman of The Athletic. “S–t, I’ve had my fair share of fumbles. It’s just bad timing.”

There had been rumors in the past that Valdes-Scantling was among the young wide receivers on the Packers that Rodgers simply didn’t think much of. The quarterback is a perfectionist, and at times has seemed displeased that the team has not gotten him more weapons. Still, that’s not the fault of Valdes-Scantling. Rodgers is right: it could happen to anybody.

Darius Leonard using Aaron Rodgers slight as motivation

Darius Leonard

Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard has had Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers circled for nearly two weeks now. Why? It’s because of something Aaron Rodgers said rather innocuously.

After the Packers played the San Francisco 49ers in Week 9, Rodgers dubbed the Niners’ Fred Warner the NFL’s best linebacker. That didn’t sit well with Leonard, who said he respects Rodgers, but intends to teach him a lesson this week.

“I seen it as soon as he said it,” Leonard said Thursday, via ESPN’s Mike Wells. “You hear things like that and it gives you extra motivation going to play. [Rodgers has] been in the league for a long time. For him to say that about Fred Warner, they play sometimes twice a year, so my first time I want to leave a mark. Hopefully change his mind on what he said about that.”

Rodgers certainly didn’t intend to slight Leonard or anyone else when he was praising Warner. Leonard, however, is the sort of player who will take just about anything as a sign of disrespect. He took Rodgers’ remark as a slight. We’ve seen him do this before to motivate himself, so we’ll see if Rodgers pays for his comments on Sunday.

Aaron Rodgers sees some ‘double standards’ with coronavirus protocols

Aaron Rodgers

The NFL has implemented a seemingly endless list of COVID-19 protocols in hopes of preventing the spread of the disease, and Aaron Rodgers wonders whether or not some of them are necessary.

Rodgers was asked about the coronavirus guidelines during his weekly appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” Tuesday. The Green Bay Packers star emphasized that he is not trying to downplay the protocols, but he wonders how much of what the NFL is doing is based in science.

“I think there’s a lot of questions of are we doing all this based on science and it’s all necessary?” Rodgers said. “There are some interesting conversations to be had down the line about all of that. … I’m just wondering what is this based on.”

Rodgers went into some specifics. He questioned why players are allowed to interact and shake hands after games but need plexiglass between lockers and can’t eat lunch together. The two-time NFL MVP feels some of the protocols are “definitely for the optics of it.”

“I think there’s some double standards — you can dap up a guy after the game but you can’t eat at the same lunch table as a teammate,” Rodgers said. “You can go down to practice and hit each other and be in close contact but you have to have plexiglass between you and the guy next to you in the locker room. Some of those things to me don’t really add up.”

If you remember, Rodgers hinted months ago that he is not in favor of stay-at-home orders during the pandemic. It’s no surprise he feels similarly about some of the NFL’s protocols.

The NFL has issued some harsh disciplinary action against teams and coaches for not following COVID-19 protocols. One team owner unloaded on the league over the punishment this week.

You can hear Rodgers’ full comments below:

Aaron Rodgers: These were not the same 49ers

Aaron Rodgers

The Green Bay Packers rolled to victory 34-17 against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. on Thursday night. The Packers got ahead 34-3 before the 49ers scored a few times to make the end score look respectable.

But the Niners’ rough performance was understandable given the context of all their injuries. George Kittle and Jimmy Garoppolo are on injured reserve. Kyle Juszczyk, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and Raheem Mostert are some of their other players who did not play. Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas have been on IR since early in the season.

Aaron Rodgers recognized the challenges facing the 49ers.

“They’re obviously depleted on both sides of the ball,” Rodgers said in a postgame interview with Erin Andrews. “They’ve had probably one of the worst injury years I’ve seen in a long time. It’s not the same football team that we saw twice last year, but they still have possibly the best middle linebacker in the game and a lot of pride.”

Just because San Francisco is in a tough spot doesn’t mean Rodgers was about to take it easy on them. Rodgers went 25/31 for 305 yards and four touchdowns. Green Bay is now 6-2, and Rodgers is putting together yet another MVP-quality season. The Niners have been doing their best to hang on but are now 4-5.

Aaron Rodgers shares theory on controversial pass interference no-call

Aaron Rodgers

The Green Bay Packers were on the wrong end of a pass interference flag being picked up late in their game against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, and Aaron Rodgers was highly critical of the non-call. After Green Bay’s loss, Rodgers hinted at a theory about why the penalty may have been waved off.

The Packers were down two touchdowns with 8:21 remaining in the fourth quarter and facing a 4th down. Rodgers tried to complete a deep pass to tight end Robert Tonyan, and Vikings safety Anthony Harris was called for pass interference. You can see the play below:

Officials got together and determined that there was no foul for pass interference. The flag was picked up, resulting in a turnover on downs. Rodgers hinted to reporters after the game that he believes the NFL league office influenced the ruling.

“I know there’s times where, they probably won’t admit it, but New York is looking at some of these plays and telling them whether or not it was pass interference or whatever the penalty is. From my vantage point, it wasn’t even close,” Rodgers said, via’s Bill Huber. “From my vantage point, it actually helped that the ball fluttered up in the air a little bit because it threw off the timing slightly and [Harris] got there clearly early. Didn’t seem like a tough call to me.”

FOX rules analyst Dean Blandino agreed with Rodgers, as he said during the broadcast that the flag should not have been picked up.

Obviously, the flag being picked up was huge. Had the Packers scored on that possession, they would have been trailing by one score with plenty of time remaining. Instead, they got the ball back later in the quarter and scored a touchdown but didn’t have enough time to complete the comeback.

The Packers have been a bit inconsistent over the past month, and a quote Rodgers gave after a recent loss was somewhat surprising. You can’t blame him for feeling like the officials made a mistake late in Sunday’s upset.

5 biggest disappointments of NFL Week 6

Aaron Rodgers

Week 6 saw one winless team get a much-needed victory, while things got even worse for another. It also saw some memorable performances, especially by quarterbacks, though some were for the right reasons, and some very much not. The good news is the drama led to some fun games.

With good games come great disappointments, and here are five from Week 6.

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers

In the battle of future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, Tom Brady was excellent, while Rodgers played one of his worst-ever games. After jumping out to a 10-0 lead, the Packers tallied just 57 total yards on their next 41 plays. Rodgers was consistently harassed by Tampa Bay defenders. He threw interceptions on back-to-back drives, the first one being just the third pick-six of his career. The game got so lopsided that Rodgers was taken out of the game in the 4th quarter to get him off his feet. It’s too bad this quarterback matchup didn’t live up to the billing, but Rodgers was just awful. At least he had a fun celebration.

Minnesota Vikings

The Atlanta Falcons have been criticized all season, blown a number of late leads, and fired head coach Dan Quinn after another debacle last week. If the Vikings were going to get a win, this was a perfect opportunity. Instead, it was the Vikings who were left reeling. The Falcons stormed out to a 33-7 lead, Kirk Cousins threw three interceptions, and Minnesota looked about as far away from contention as they possibly could. The fact that this came against a winless team makes the performance even more alarming. At this point, it’s worth asking how safe Mike Zimmer’s job is.

N’Keal Harry, Patriots

The Patriots’ sluggish offense continues to underwhelm; they were held to just 288 total yards by the Denver Broncos. Still, thanks to some errors by the Denver offense, the Patriots were in the game at the end. Trailing by 6 on a do-or-die 4th-and-10, quarterback Cam Newton sought out Harry, who had only been targeted once in the game to that point. Analysis shows that Harry ran the wrong route on the final play, and the pass fell incomplete. That’s a bad look for someone who’s supposed to be a major part of the offense but didn’t even make a catch on Sunday.

Baker Mayfield, QB, Browns

Mayfield probably shouldn’t have played Sunday, though one can understand his desire to. It was a divisional rivalry against the unbeaten Steelers, and the Browns wanted to prove they were for real. Mayfield just wasn’t up to it. He threw two interceptions and tallied just 118 yards before being benched for his own good in the third quarter as he battled a rib injury. Mayfield will have better days, especially once he’s healthy, but his effort to gut it out did the Browns no favors.

Houston Texans’ defense

The firing of Bill O’Brien appears to have finally opened up the Houston Texans’ offense. Now they just need to sort out the other side of the ball. The Titans posted 601 yards in an overtime win, with Houston’s defense having a full-on meltdown late. A Tennessee offense not known for being prolific stomped all over Houston on a game-tying drive that ended with A.J. Brown’s tying touchdown catch with seconds left. In overtime, Derrick Henry was involved in four of the Titans’ six plays on a game-winning touchdown drive. The Texans had no answer. Their offense looked to have won them the game, but the defense just wasn’t good enough.