I am so very sick of Aaron Rodgers trolling nonsense. This week, many sports books have taken the Green Bay Packers’ win total bets off the board on speculation that Rodgers will be retiring prior to the start of camp, as first reported by Bill Huber. Then on Friday, Rodgers and Davante Adams then posted the same Instagram story referencing The Last Dance, the documentary miniseries covering the development and the last days of the Jordan-Pippen Bulls dynasty.
This continues a long string of vague and unspecific references Rodgers has made that seem intended to convey something vague and unspecific to fans and pundits everywhere. Does this mean that Adams and Rodgers are in for one more year and then taking off for other teams? That’s the surface reading, of course, and fundamentally what The Last Dance is all about, but there’s another reading too.
Aaron Rodgers is a putz.
When I was a kid, I read a lot of mystery novels, because we had a lot of mystery novels around. Mystery novels are great for nerds, because they are ultimately just puzzles that you can solve, and I started with Encyclopedia Brown books, which exist solely to be solved by young children. We happened to have a collection of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot novels lying around. Let’s talk about Poirot for a second before we make the connection to Rodgers.
Poirot began life as a Sherlock Holmesian detective in terms of how he solved cases. Their personalities could not be more different of course, but Poirot, like Holmes, would take the facts, find the discrepancies in the accounts of the witnesses, and solve the case. The most famous Poirot novel, Murder on the Orient Express, is probably the best example of this, as the entire book is simply one witness interview after another. In the book, the large details are entirely consistent but the small details are not. Murder on the Orient Express was written in 1934, when Poirot was at his Sherlock Holmsiest, but he didn’t stay that way. Over time, Poirot became much less likely to break a case by exposing a factual flaw in a story and much more likely to focus on the psychology of the suspects. The question in later Poirot novels is often more about what kind of person a suspect is.
Christie isn’t a great psychologist, and I don’t care for a lot of later Poirot for this reason. I am fundamentally a “facts” person, so moving to psychology and away from a detailed retelling of the facts of the murder always seemed like a cheat to me. It let her justify any ending she desired regardless of the facts set up earlier, which can frankly be infuriating. With all of that said, there is one thing she was undeniably good at when expressing the psychology of an important character. As an example: If Agatha Christie would have had a character wear a t-shirt with the words “I’m Offended” printed on it, the intended message to the reader would not have been that the character was offended. That would have been the message to the other characters in the book, but the message to the reader would have been something very different. That message is that this is a character who likes to see the reactions people have to a t-shirt with the words “I’m Offended” printed on it.
This brings us to Aaron Rodgers, who again, is a putz.
Rob helpfully played the part of a character in the novel by entertaining the idea that Aaron Rodgers was so offended that he wore a shirt declaring that he was offended. It’s not entirely his fault, as it is the job of a journalist to lay out the facts rather than to psychoanalyze Aaron Rodgers, but even this line is a bit much. Rodgers wore the shirt to troll everyone, especially the front office, which would then receive questions about it. And most importantly, Rodgers wore it for attention.
The big lesson is to not judge people by what they say, but by what they do. Aaron’s shirt said he was offended, but the act of wearing it said more, just like this amazing quote:
“Sometimes the loudest person in the room is not the smartest person,” Rodgers said. “Sometimes the loudest person in the room is not the person who has all the facts on their side or the truth on their side. Sometimes there’s a lot of wisdom in silence. Sometimes there’s a lot of wisdom in being selective on what you say. This offseason I’ve spent a lot of time working on myself.”
There are ten different ways to read and interpret this. Is it ripping Mark Murphy or Brian Gutekunst? Maybe. Is it self-reflection? Probably not, but one could interpret it that way. Is it just a nonsensical platitude? Was he unable to remember the old axiom “‘Tis better to remain silent and appear a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt?” Quite possibly. What we know for sure though, is that it’s ambiguous enough for anyone to spin it however they want and for the media to ask any question they want to any member of the Packer organization. Like the shirt, it says nothing, but is annoying.
And Rodgers keeps doing this. You may get the sense that Rodgers wishes to remain in private with his fiancée and is bothered by all the questions. The quote above gives off such an impression without explicitly saying it. Rodgers is implying he would like to be silent. Sure, he’s saying he’d like to be silent while maybe suggesting that he deals with people less intelligent than him. But please respect his privacy. Tons of Rodgers non-answers over the past year convey the same message.
The fact is that Rodgers loves attention. He loves instagramming about his famous friends and significant other. He loves being on TV, hosting Jeopardy!, and golfing against other football players. We know this, because he keeps doing it over, and over, and over. Again, what he says is in direct opposition to what he does.
Finally, we know he craves attention and derives pleasure from annoying people because of what he doesn’t say. Rodgers could put all of this ambiguity about his future to rest with a few sentences. They don’t even have to be definitive sentences. “Yes, I’m playing with the Packers this year, and then we’ll take a look at my contract, and discuss the future.” That would be a totally fine thing to say. “I want to be traded, I’m not happy, and I’m not showing up.” Also, a fine thing to say, though obviously more controversial. Rodgers isn’t subject to some kind of “football player confidentiality.” He can put this to bed whenever he wants.
Instead, Rodgers just lets everyone continue to wonder, because Aaron likes people talking about Aaron, theorizing about Aaron, and feeling smarter than everyone because he knows something they don’t. Rodgers is the direct cause of all speculation about Rodgers, because he enjoys it and doesn’t care about the media, or about you, the fan.
It’s always worth keeping his favorite movie, The Princess Bride, in mind. The entire saga that has unfolded since draft night is just like the famous “game theory” scene between Cary Elwes and Wallace Shawn. In it, Elwes, as Wesley, knows that both cups have been poisoned and sits on his rock, mocking Shawn’s Vizzini while he attempts to suss out which he should drink. Rodgers’ statements this offseason are reminiscent of Wesley in this scene, who leans into every theory Vizzini has just to laugh at him under his mask and offers backhanded compliments about his “dizzying intellect,” secure in the knowledge that he has already won.
Rodgers doesn’t owe any of us anything, of course. He’s free to behave however he wants. But actual silence and actual privacy are options, and if he took them, it might be better for all involved. As it is, he continues to engage in trollish behavior because, well, he’s kind of a jerk. When Rodgers is eventually gone and playing for Gruden, Shanahan, or Fangio, I’ll miss his play at quarterback, but I won’t miss him, even a little.