Is Aaron Rodgers’ controversial interview with MMQB’s Peter King on the couch with Yahoo Sports the stuff of legends? Not so fast.
Rookie Green Bay Packers coach Matt LeFleur said Friday that the team has never heard the interview, which he will almost certainly have to watch if the Packers face the Eagles in Philadelphia on Sunday night.
“I don’t really know the breakdown of it, what (the interview) is in nature to, from what I saw,” LeFleur said. “But I’m not really looking forward to it.”
“It would be weird, wouldn’t it?” LeFleur told reporters. “We can’t help but listen, obviously. But when I hear something, there’s a lot of issues there about how to get around it, what’s right for the NFL, what’s right for the player, what’s right for each individual. It’s an incredibly hard thing to do and it’s going to work on you.”
“That’s a really tough situation. Any time a player talks about a coach, I don’t care who it is, not many NFL players do that, so as a coach, it’s a really tough situation.”
If LeFleur has one issue with the interview, it was that its content included a segment in which Rodgers complained that he is paid the “antithetical amount” of money compared to other NFL stars.
“You have to be commended and actually humble about having a salary and not being the highest paid player, to tell you the truth,” LeFleur said. “I was glad to hear him say that. I hope he comes out and plays very well on Sunday. And then all I can worry about is as a coach how do I coach my team?”
CNN spoke with several analysts, as well as members of the player’s union, about the interview. Most of them agreed with LeFleur and said it was a complicated thing.
“Now, of course, the conversation was OK, if he’s telling the truth. Is it going to play very well in the Packers locker room? No. Was it OK to have that conversation? No,” said former NFL offensive lineman Matt Passmore, now with the network.
“He probably has some good analysis of where his head was at at the time. The conversation was OK,” added Passmore, who played for the Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings and the Carolina Panthers.
Jim Salisbury, a former official with the NFL Players Association and now a commentator for ESPN, said he was “shocked” by the conversation.
“I think Aaron Rodgers understands that these discussions about pay have nothing to do with football,” he said. “This debate, this discussion, this negotiation is about managing a team, how to get players the best deal available, how to get them a raise when you have a chance.”
Salisbury was also sympathetic about Rodgers, but also pretty darn critical of LeFleur for not knowing about the interview, particularly because he was on an interesting team-bonding trip to Mexico City.
“I’m kind of embarrassed and disappointed that a guy playing the game he loves and wearing jersey No. 12, you should really be on high alert and you shouldn’t trust somebody who is either rude or not listening to you, either of which are troubling, what in the name of Paul Newman would you do about that?”
Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Dean Lowry didn’t seem bothered by the interview.
“Obviously he’s not concerned with coach LeFleur, whoever he is,” Lowry said. “I don’t think Aaron really cares, either, whether coach is mad about the interview, which I think would be smart for him. I think he’s just focused on getting better, and whatever coach LeFleur wants to do with his guys, it’s his call.
“It’s not like Aaron Rodgers sits on his ass and watches ESPN. Aaron Rodgers is going to make the call whether to play or not.”