The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel employs several writers whose primary job is to follow the Green Bay Packers. Primarily they are news reporters, but occasionally they will stray into the realm of commentary. I have no quarrel with that, as a little opinion or analysis can go a long way to making a news story more complete. However, I have a major problem when one of these writers verbally berates a player based on comments from people not involved with the team.
Rob Reischel of the Journal-Sentinel wrote an article for the paper's Packers Plus section yesterday which accuses quarterback Aaron Rodgers of being a poor leader and a bad teammate. If he based this on consistent observations of the player's conduct and attitude, I would have no problem with it, and for a brief moment at the start of the article, it looks like Reischel is going to have some basis to his argument when he brings up some snide comments made by Rodgers in the locker room after the Packers' loss to San Francisco. But then, Reischel rolls right off the tracks and into crazy-land by quoting public comments from three sources as the primary driver for his story. Here are the names of those people quoted:
Jermichael Finley's agent, Blake Baratz
CBS Sports analyst Shannon Sharpe
Greg Jennings' sister Valyncia
First we'll address Baratz. I'm sure you all remember back in September when he made waves for his tweets bashing Rodgers' leadership skills and criticizing his inability to take the blame for a situation. That caused a major stir around the locker room and in the blogosphere, with many speculating that Finley was speaking through his agent and that he wasn't happy with Rodgers. But wait: Finley was quick to dismiss Baratz's comments, saying he believed "Zero percent of it." Now who are you going to listen to? An agent who's making uninformed comments about a player who he does not represent and has no contact with, or the player who employs that agent refuting those comments? I'm with Finley here, but apparently Reischel didn't even feel the need to mention that Finley disagreed with those comments.
Second, let's look at Shannon Sharpe. I can honestly say that I have never heard him say anything insightful or valuable until his ripping of Patriots coach Bill Belichick for refusing a post-game interview after the AFC Championship game this week. Here's the main part of Sharpe's quote:
I tell you what else, just because you're a great quarterback and an MVP quarterback that doesn't make you a great person. There is a difference between the two.
Nowhere can I find any evidence of Sharpe actually meeting Aaron Rodgers or interacting with him in any way. To make an insinuation that he is a bad person and a bad teammate with no knowledge of the situation is reckless and absurd. For Reischel to include these quotes as a basis for his argument is silly.
Finally, we all know how ridiculous and absurd Jennings' sister's tweets are, not to mention the fact that Jennings also came out in defense of Rodgers and made a subtle, sarcastic dig at her sister's football knowledge: "I’m going to give her a call and let her see the playbook and maybe she’ll be more satisfied with the playbook this week and see if I’m implemented as much as she would like."
I'm not making a judgment of Rodgers' leadership here. I acknowledge that there is a possibility that he is not as great a leader as we would like to believe. Reischel does bring up some valid points about Rodgers' calling out of the coaching staff and the use of certain players, which lends some credence to the point of the article. The problem is that those absurd quotes from people outside the locker room tear down any credibility that this article could have had.
Personally, I don't think Rodgers is a poor leader, but that's my own uninformed opinion and I'm not going to write an article using equally uninformed opinions in an attempt to validate mine.