Looking from the outside, you wouldn’t think the Green Bay Packers have had major issues behind the curtain. In the past 11 seasons, they’ve won five division titles, made the playoffs in eight straight seasons and won a Super Bowl.
But according to a detailed story from Bleacher Report’s Tyler Dunne, there has been a culture of dysfunction in Green Bay, and it has centered around their future Hall of Fame quarterback and their longtime head coach who was let go midseason last year.
Dunne’s long-form story recounts countless tales from the past decade of Packers football based on interviews with “dozens of players, coaches and personnel men who shared time in Green Bay with Rodgers and McCarthy.”
The results are pretty shocking.
According to reports, Aaron Rodgers consistently undermined head coach Mike McCarthy, with one person close to Rodgers dropping this wild quote:
“Mike has a low football IQ, and that used to always bother Aaron,” his source says. “He’d say Mike has one of the lowest IQs, if not the lowest IQ, of any coach he’s ever had.”
So Rodgers would ignore play-calls, call his own and improv all the time. As a result, it alienated both McCarthy and the Packers’ young receiving corps, who didn’t know who to listen to. This was especially true in 2018, when the Packers had to rely on several rookies, including sixth-round pick Equanimeous St. Brown.
“A source close to the team says St. Brown became frustrated because as much as he wanted to follow McCarthy’s play design, he also heard rumors of Rodgers freezing out teammates if they didn’t do exactly what he demanded,” Dunne wrote.
Rodgers’ sensitive nature was a common theme in this expose. Several players told stories about being completely cut out of Rodgers’ life, and others questioned his ability to lead. Some believed he would blame everyone but himself and completely block out any criticism. Others believe that sort of sensitivity allowed him to play with a chip on his shoulder, which led to his phenomenal play on the field.
But Rodgers was far from the only one who came out looking bad in this piece. McCarthy was constantly painted as stubborn, uninventive, and, at some points, even disconnected from his job. One source said that McCarthy would occasionally miss team meetings to skip out and get a massage.
Then there was general manager Ted Thompson, who saw the same criticism as a complacent roster builder who didn’t have a firm grasp of his own team. Rumors sprouted from Green Bay that Thompson’s health was deteriorating. He fell asleep during film sessions and slurred his speech.
How that affects the 2019 Packers is unclear. They’ve moved on from McCarthy and they have a new general manager in Brian Gutekunst. But Aaron Rodgers remains. Last year was the first time the Packers placed third or worst in the division in back-to-back years since 2000. Will first-time head coach Matt LaFleur be able to right this ship?