Tuesday was the first day of training camp for the Green Bay Packers, but because the actual practice was not real football – they won’t be in pads until Thursday – and because players don’t particularly like talking to the media, not much meaningful news came out of it.
You had head coach Mike McCarthy saying the team was going to concentrate on improving its fundamentals – without elaborating or giving specifics – which is something he says in almost every press conference he does. You had wide receiver Jordy Nelson admitting he’d hurt his knee and tight end Jared Cook conceding he did indeed have offseason foot surgery, with neither revealing the cause of the injuries or what exactly the injuries were. And you had players talking about going out there and doing what they need to do to get better every day and be consistent and become the best they can be.
So it was at least fun to hear from Aaron Rodgers on a few off-field topics, because, as always, even his non-answers to questions were amusing in their cageyness.
Let’s check in on the Packers quarterback to hear what he had to say (or not say) about his little brother blabbing on “The Bachelorette,” his own fantasy football value and whether or not camp is fun.
Ever since former Vanderbilt and (very briefly) NFL quarterback Jordan Rodgers piteously divulged on ABC’s “The Bachelorette” that “me and Aaron really don’t have much of a relationship” – followed by a weird visit to the Rodgers home in Chico, California, where older bro Luke seemed spurned too and nobody acknowledged all the awkwardness – the world was waiting for Aaron’s (inevitably diplomatic and undramatic) response.
He didn’t disappoint – unless you wanted something divulging, that is.
“I haven’t seen the show, to be honest with you, so it hasn’t really affected me a whole lot,” he said, when asked by a reporter from a local ABC affiliate about Jordan’s comments.
But Rodgers, who never says anything totally inconsequential or nonstrategic, did add what sounded like a high-road admonishment of his younger brother, along with a tactful (and no-doubt eyes-rolled) thumbs-up remark.
“As far as those kinds of things go, I’ve always found that it’s a little inappropriate to talk publicly about some family matters, so I’m not going to speak on those things,” Rodgers said. “But I wish him well on the competition.”
/*face with tears of joy emoji*
Anyway, a little later, Rodgers was asked why fantasy football players should choose him before Carolina’s Cam Newton – a case the two-time MVP didn’t seem terribly interested in making.
“I don’t feel like I need to stand up here and justify my fantasy reliability,” he said. “I think I’ve been a decent fantasy player over the years.”
But, hyper-competitive with a razor-sharp memory and that ever-present chip on his shoulder, Rodgers couldn’t help but justify it just a little bit.
“I’ve had a lot of people from all over the country tell me how they appreciate the fantasy points,” he said. “None more than a gentleman at Claire’s in Solana Beach, who mentioned how much money I helped him win, especially after the 2012 season. So I’m a pretty safe bet for fantasy, I think.”
As for the drudgery of training camp, even entering his 12th season, Rodgers said he still found it fun at nearby St. Norbert College.
“We’re at the dorms now, which is a good time, good bonding – except for the rookies; you have to play some pranks on them from time to time, just to get them to come out of their rooms now and then,” he said. “But yeah, there’s a lot going on, chemistry comes together, there’s a lot of time for meetings and working through the playbook.”
Rodgers declined to elaborate on what kinds of pranks would be pulled, but he did say that the hijinks were all in the name of getting the phone-obsessed first-year players away from their Pokemon Go and whatnots.
“We have down time, as well, whether to hit the lounge and get some ping pong in or video games, anything to get these guys off their phones, you know? Meeting ends, they go right to their phones.”
Regarding those kids and their darn phones, the 32-year-old quarterback later admitted that “it starts to set in that you’re getting older in the league and you have to try a little bit harder to get to know the guys and spend a little more time with them.”
Still, Rodgers said he is trying harder to get to know them, including having the other quarterbacks – second-year backup Brett Hundley and undrafted rookies Joe Callahan and Marquise Williams – over to his house “a couple times” during the spring and summer and forging friendships with them.
He said he enjoys the camaraderie of camp and establishing chemistry, both on and off the field, with the latter helping to improve the former and vice versa.
“You have to get to know the guys and how they respond to criticism and coaching and critiques on the field and in the meeting room,” he said. “And then get to know them off the field, what they like to do in their free time and get to know their personality.”
Rodgers also compared the opening practice of training camp Tuesday to the first day of school, with interwoven excitement and nervousness, and he made sure to applaud the Packers’ loyal supporters.
“To get the ovation when you take the field is great; we’ve got the best fan base in all of sports, it’s special to see so many of our great fans,” he said. “I’m driving over in the morning at 7 o’clock, and they’re taking their seats already.
“It’s a beautiful thing and something that the young guys are just getting used to, and the older guys, we don’t take it for granted because we know how special it is.”