As some of you may know, I’ve been pondering which new jersey I should purchase for the 2010 season.
After listening to Aaron Rodgers on 540 ESPN Milwaukee - the broadcast was actually from Monday but I didn’t hear it until Tuesday - I’m no longer pondering: It’s going to be No. 12. Hands down.
In an interview for the “Homer” program, Rodgers went on the warpath against ESPN, with Tony Kornheiser, Marcellus Wiley and Ron Jaworski amongst his targets. Rodgers praised Trent Dilfer, Jon Gruden and Mike Tirico - all of whom are employed by “The Worldwide Leader” - but it’s pretty clear his overall feelings for the network are not what you’d call “cheery.” Remember, Rodgers also blasted ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay awhile back, questioning his knowledge of the game.
Some will hear the interview and say that Rodgers is bitter towards the network. Some will call him a jerk.
My take: Yeah, he likely is a bit bitter. But don’t fool yourself – you would be, too.
This is a network that, essentially, exploited Rodgers’ plummet down the draft board in 2005. Sure, Rodgers was feeling completely humiliated and embarassed having to sit in the green room waiting…and waiting…and waiting for his name to be called. Sure, it probably felt like one of the worst moments of his life. Sure, he probably felt like the lonliest guy on Earth at that exact moment.
What’s the perfect way to cover that? With constant cut-aways to the young man. And, hey, let’s throw in constant tight shots of the pain on his face! Yeah, let’s really make his humiliation worthwhile television!
How would you feel if ESPN had done that to you?
Oh, but it’s more than just that, isn’t it? Yep – it sure is.
This is a network that has never, never, NEVER allowed Rodgers to have his own spotlight. Every single thing he’s done – good or bad – has been compared to the good or bad things done by Brett Favre. That was tolerable at the start of Rodgers’ reign, as everyone wondered how he’d fare upon stepping into Favre’s role. But it’s still happening on an excrutiatingly consistent basis.
Nevermind the fact that Rodgers flat-out outperformed Favre in 2008 and pretty much went toe-to-toe with him in 2009. Nope, that doesn’t matter to ESPN. Favre’s stat line will never reside far from Rodgers’ in their eyes, no matter how bad Favre played or how well Rodgers did.
Do you think you’d be okay with that? Think that’d piss you off?
Kornheiser, of course, continues to be the worst of those violators, apparently unashamed of his disgusting man-crush on the Old Fraudslinger, so it’s really no surprise Rodgers saved most of his venom for him.
But it’s not just Kornheiser. The network, as a whole, is in love with the man we call Judas. The network gives him a pass on almost everything he does, no matter how backhanded. The reason for this is simple: ESPN wants Favre to work for the network once he finally decides to call it a day. They crave the ratings he brings. That can’t happen if they portray him as he really is.
Don’t think Rodgers doesn’t know that, either, because it’s almost certain he does. Athletes can talk all they want about not reading the papers or watching ESPN, but we all know that’s a lie. They watch. And surely Rodgers, who comes across as highly intelligent, takes note everytime the network gives the man who tried to throw him under the bus two years ago a pass because he “plays the game like a kid” or whatever other crap they’re forcefeeding us about Favre this week.
Now that he’s officially established himself as a top-flight NFL quarterback, Rodgers has earned the right to speak his displeasure on such matters. He used the interview, in part, to do so.
I have to say I’m really glad he did. I liked the feisty nature he displayed in attacking a network that has clearly wronged him for much of the past five years. He’s not afraid to stand up for himself. And I’m really glad he doesn’t appear to be backing off his comments or saying he was “taken out of context.” Athletes who do that are simply cowards.
Keeping calling ‘em like you see ‘em, Aaron. It’s only going to make us love you more.