Aaron Rodgers' highly anticipated appearance on Kenny Mayne's final episode of SportsCenter on Monday night did not disappoint.
The reigning NFL MVP was candid about his ongoing situation with the Green Bay Packers amid reports that he is "disgruntled" with the organization.
Rodgers told Mayne that the rift between himself and the franchise shifted significantly last year, but not because of the team's decision to draft his potential replacement, Jordan Love, in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
"With my situation, look it's never been about the draft pick, picking Jordan," Rodgers said via ESPN. "I love Jordan; he's a great kid. [We've had] a lot of fun to work together. Love the coaching staff, love my teammates, love the fan base in Green Bay. An incredible 16 years. It's just kind of about a philosophy and maybe forgetting that it is about the people that make the thing go. It's about character, it's about culture, it's about doing things the right way."
Rodgers, 37, is coming off one of the best seasons of his legendary career, recording an NFL best 48 touchdowns, 70.7 completion percentage, and 9.1 touchdown percentage, as well as 4,299 yards and just five interceptions, while leading Green Bay to an NFC best 13-3 regular-season record and winning the 2020 NFL MVP award.
The former Super Bowl champion said he believes he played so well that it may have changed Green Bay's plans to move on from him.
"A lot of this was put in motion last year, and the wrench was just kind of thrown into it when I won MVP and played the way I played last year," Rodgers said. "This is just kind of, I think, a spill-out of all that. But it is about the people, and that's the most important thing. Green Bay has always been about the people -- from Curly Lambeau being owner and founder to the '60s with [Vince] Lombardi and Bart Starr and all those incredible names to the '90s teams with coach [Mike] Holmgren and Favrey [Brett Favre] and the Minister of Defense [Reggie White] to the run that we've been on. It's about the people."
On Monday, Rodgers was absent from the Packers' Phase Three portion of OTAs, which includes 10 total days of work spread over four weeks, ESPN's Rob Demovsky reported.
ESPN's Adam Schefter, who initially reported Rodgers was "disgruntled" last month, noted that Rodgers has "been a regular participant in the Packers' offseason program and OTAs" throughout his NFL career in a quote-tweet sharing Demovsky's report on the reigning NFL MVP's absence Monday morning.
Rodgers'SportsCenterinterview Monday night was one of his first media appearances since reports of telling members of the organization he does not want to return to the Packers last month.
Rodgers appeared on camera during a brief interview with Twin Spires while attending the Kentucky Derby earlier this month, but did not address the reported rift with the franchise.
Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst told reporters last month that the issue has been addressed internally "for a little while now" and the franchise is still working toward bringing back the reigning NFL MVP.
"We've been working through this for a little while now, and I just think it may take some time," Gutekunst said via ESPN. "But he's a guy that kind of makes this thing go. He gives us the best chance to win, and we're going to work towards that end."
Rodgers is still under contract with Green Bay through the 2023 season but has no guaranteed money remaining on his current deal. Gutekunst said the team has communicated openly with Rodgers and his representatives about a new deal throughout the offseason.
"We're not going to trade Aaron Rodgers," Gutekunst added via ESPN.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Rodgers "is so disgruntled with the Green Bay Packers that he has told some within the organization that he does not want to return to the team."
"The Packers are aware of his feelings, concerned about them and have had team president Mark Murphy, general manager Brian Gutekunst and head coach Matt LaFleur each fly out on separate trips to meet with Rodgers at various points this offseason, sources told ESPN," Schefter wrote on Thursday.
Gutekunst responded to the report by telling ESPN, "As we've stated since the season ended, we are committed to Aaron in 2021 and beyond. Aaron has been a vital part of our success and we look forward to competing for another championship with him leading our team."
NFL Network'sTom Pelissero also reported the San Francisco 49ers "reached out" to the Packers on April 28 to inquire about a possible trade involving the Butte County, California native, however, no formal offer was made and a source confirmed there was a "zero percent chance" Green Bay was willing to trade the reigning NFL MVP.
Shortly after Pelissero's report, FOX Sports' Jay Glazer reported "a few teams" contacted the Packers about a possible trade involving Rodgers.
Gutekunst denied speaking with 49ers general manager John Lynch regarding a possible deal for Rodgers prior to the 2021 NFL Draft. Lynch, however, told reporters the franchise "inquired" about the MVP quarterback, but didn't confirm when the conversation took place, adding, "It was a quick end to the conversation; it wasn't happening."
Gutekunst acknowledged that the Packers received numerous calls from other NFL teams after Schefter's report of Rodgers' unhappiness.
"Sometime after 5 o'clock, after a lot of the stuff had kind of hit the airwaves, I got I think one call," Gutekunst said. "It was very brief, and that was it."
Rodgers has spent his entire career in Green Bay since being selected No. 24 overall in the 2005 NFL Draft, which saw him serve as a backup and eventual heir to Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre during his first three seasons.
However, the Packers made a similar move by selecting Love at No. 26 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, choosing to draft Rodgers' possible future replacement instead of getting the former Super Bowl MVP some offensive help with their first-round pick, leading to speculation of a possible rift prior to the 2020 season.
Rodgers responded by putting together one of the best seasons of his career, recording an NFL best 48 touchdowns, 70.7 completion percentage, and 9.1 touchdown percentage, as well as 4,299 yards and just five interceptions while leading Green Bay to an NFC best 13-3 regular-season record and winning the 2020 NFL MVP award.
Additionally, the Packers once again invested their first-round pick on a defensive player in the 2021 NFL Draft last month instead of getting more help for the 37-year-old quarterback.
CBS SportsLine's Allan Bell noted that the Love is the only offensive player selected by Green Bay in the first round of the NFL Draft since 2012 and the team has selected zero wide receivers in round one since 2002.
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