Tuesday, January 31 2023

By Martin Rogers
FOX Sports Columnist

In the lead-up to a big Hollywood movie release, a studio’s dream scenario is if the headlining superstar gets generous and creative during the publicity cycle.

It’s a relatively simple attention grab. If Tom Cruise, Charlize Theron or Chris Hemsworth flash their personality, drop some juicy gossip and, I don’t know, jump on a couch or something, the film is going to get more eyeballs, make more money, and be deemed a worthwhile investment.

So if the 2022 Green Bay Packers‘ season was a movie, power brokers putting up their cash would be decidedly happy. 

For Aaron Rodgers can’t stop talking. He’s having more recorded conversations than ever before, reflecting his innermost thoughts, giving tidbits that remind us that celebrities have manifestly different lives from everyone else.

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Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was critical of the young Packers WRs. Rodgers was quoted saying the WRs need to be “consistent.”

He chats for hours and hours about holistic cleanses and psychedelic treatments, his prior relationships, his beliefs regarding COVID-19, his own past mistakes – really, about any number of things that are absolutely guaranteed to be tweeted, clipped, retweeted, parsed, discussed and debated far beyond the sphere of pro football.

The overarching goal for the Packers this season is what it always is, and the only thing it can be for a team that’s won 13 games in each of the past three years: win a Super Bowl.

Is Rodgers putting himself out there a sign of confidence ahead of the new campaign? 

That’s how it tends to go in the movies. Actors are typically more likely to enthusiastically embrace the promotion for a film they think is going to be a well-received hit, than a forgettable dud.

Or is it just that Rodgers needs the attention?

Green Bay is rated as a fifth-best +1100 to win the Super Bowl, and that shouldn’t be a surprise. The Packers sit among the favorites every year because they’ve got Rodgers, despite not having made it to the title game since winning it behind No. 12’s arm in 2011.

Last year ended like so many others, with a dispiriting playoff defeat to the San Francisco 49ers in a game some thought might be Rodgers’ final appearance with the Pack. Instead, after a couple of years of disharmony that stemmed back to Jordan Love’s drafting in 2020, Rodgers inked a three-year extension that pays him close to $1 million a week.

And, over several months, threw himself heartily onto the interview circuit.

He told Pat McAfee about a therapeutic cleanse that involved vomiting and enemas and bloodletting.

He smoked cigars with podcaster Aubrey Marcus and revealed that he’d taken psychedelics on a trip to South America with ex-partner Danica Patrick.

He doesn’t breeze into the recorded room for a few minutes and whisk back out the door again after a few pleasantries and some chit-chat. He goes long. He gets into it.

On a weekend appearance with The Joe Rogan Experience, Rodgers discussed his decision to tell reporters last season that he was “immunized” – which led to the incorrect and widespread belief that he was vaccinated against COVID.

“I’d been ready the entire time for this question, and had thought about how I wanted to answer it,” he told Rogan. “I had come to the conclusion, I’m going to say, ‘I’ve been immunized.’ And if there’s a follow-up, then talk about my process.

“Maybe they understand what that means, maybe they don’t. Maybe they follow up. They didn’t follow up. So then I go (into) the season [with] them thinking, some of them, that I was vaccinated.”

Rodgers has a lot to say, which perhaps is why he chooses situations where he gets a lot of time to say it.

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While Aaron Rodgers will be ready for another season, Love finished the preseason with four interceptions, three touchdowns, a 55.4 completion percentage and 63.9 passer rating.

Sometimes it is conflicting and confusing, and at other times thought-provoking. Whatever your stance on his beliefs – and some of them, it has to be said, are mightily unconventional — one thing remains inherently fascinating.

That there is an athlete who is among the best to have ever played the quarterback position, who is prepared to go to extreme lengths to share so much personal information, is unprecedented. Maybe it is a kind of therapy for him, maybe it is a way of ensuring he stays near the top of the news cycle. Maybe it is to add to his mystique.

Packers fans hope it is a signal that he’s at a contented point, with clarity of mind, and nothing stopping him from more elite play.

Green Bay looks primed for another charge, with the NFC North lacking so much depth that it’s virtually impossible to imagine the reigning MVP not charting a path to a high seed once more.

Head coach Matt La Fleur’s tenure has been productive and the pair’s relationship appears to be strong. Rodgers’ feelings toward the front office – GM Brian Gutekunst included – seem far warmer than in the recent past.

Rodgers has, believe it or not, talked about football a little, too, garnering some headlines a few weeks back for remarks perceived as being critical of the team’s wide receiving corps. Since then, he has backtracked some, offering a few snippets of praise to that group.

A Week 1 meeting with the Minnesota Vikings will come around quickly, meaning Rodgers’ chat with Rogan was probably the last big podcast he sits for this summer, though he will be back with McAfee on Tuesdays during the campaign, where he is given the freedom to talk about whatever is on his mind.

The content will more likely than not be about life rather than football, it won’t necessarily fit in with most social norms, and it is bound to include some controversy along the way. It might even feature choices of words that obscure the truth.

One way or another, Aaron Rodgers will be talking, for that’s what he does a lot of these days, like it or not.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. You can subscribe to the daily newsletter here.

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