GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – If there was ever a man caught in the middle, it’s currently Matt LaFleur. The Packers head coach stood on a Zoom call with members of the media and was asked how it got to where they were: his star quarterback reportedly not wanting to come back and play and at an impasse with the rest of the Green Bay front office.
“We want him back here,” LaFleur said.
Well, that’s great, ESPN reporter Rob Demovsky said, but what if he (Aaron Rodgers) doesn’t want to be back here?
With a grim line set in his mouth, LaFleur acknowledge the scary elephant everyone has been ignoring since Thursday, when news first broke that Aaron Rodgers was ‘disgruntled’ with the team that had drafted him.
“Yeah, I know. I can’t even take my brain to that spot right now,” LaFleur said. “I just want to do everything in my power that that doesn’t happen.”
LaFleur has already tried to do that. He, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst, and president and CEO Mark Murphy have all been out to California to mend the rift that’s split between the franchise quarterback and the organization.
“He’s our quarterback, he’s our leader. We’ve been working through this for a while now. I think it may take some time,” Gutekunst said when reporters asked him after day one of the draft on how they could fix this with Rodgers. “He’s the guy that kind of makes this thing go. He gives us the best chance to win and we’re going to work towards that end.”
The rift dates back to when Gutekunst traded up in the 2020 draft to take quarterback Jordan Love, without telling Rodgers.
“I certainly look back to last year’s draft and just kind of, maybe some of the communication issues, we could have done better. No doubt about it,” Gutekunst said. “The draft’s an interesting thing, it can kind of unfold differently than you think it’s going to unfold, and it happens pretty fast. Certainly I think looking back on it, sitting where we’re sitting at today, there could have been some communication, things that we did better.”
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Packers offered Rodgers an extension. He said no. No deal has been done.
For LaFleur, the answer is simple: Rodgers is his guy.
“We’re in this thing together. Everybody in this organization is on board. We all want him back as our quarterback. I believe he’s the greatest of all time,” LaFleur said passionately. “Anytime you have a guy of that caliber of course, not only as the player but the person and the leader in that locker room, of course you want him leading your team.”
Rodgers was spotted at the Kentucky Derby this weekend with fiancée Shailene Woodley. He declined to speak to NBC’s Mike Tirico on camera but Tirico reports Rodgers is disappointed word of the rift with his team has gotten out. He did tell Tirico how much he loves the Packers fans, the franchise and Green Bay.
There were also reports over the weekend that Rodgers would not come back to Green Bay as long as Gutekunst was running the show. The GM said he hadn’t heard anything like that relayed to him.
“Aaron hasn’t said anything like that to me and certainly hasn’t said anything publicly. I think it’s a little unfair to put that on him, but you certainly don’t like to hear those things but at the same time, it’s kind of part of the gig in the national football league,” Gutekunst said. “But nothing has been communicated directly to me.”
As the virtual off season program continues for the Packers, LaFleur can only hope his MVP quarterback will be ready to be in meetings in the coming months.
“Well, I’ll always remain hopeful and optimistic and certainly, we’ll always welcome him back with open arms. He knows exactly how, not only myself, but our staff and our players feel about him,” LaFleur said. “I just can’t imagine him not in a Green Bay Packers uniform