GREEN BAY—Aaron Rodgers wasn’t going to pick apart the disparaging comments made by former teammate Greg Jennings, but he’s taking the words of Ryan Braun very much to heart.
Following the first training camp practice on Friday, Rodgers spent a good portion of a 10-minute media session in front of his locker processing the aforementioned pair with very different emotions.
As for Jennings, Rodgers’ former No. 1 receiver who signed with the Vikings as a free agent and has since publicly questioned the quarterback’s leadership skills, the translation of Rodgers’ words boiled down to this: Jennings is no longer a teammate and, therefore, what he says doesn’t matter to him.
“At this point, I don’t have a whole lot of time or energy to spend worrying about things that are said outside the building,” Rodgers said. “Those are stories for you guys (in the media) but, personally, I’m focused on this team. Obviously, you hear about them, but I’m not going to spend a lot of time and energy on them.
“To me, I’m concerned with the opinions of the guys in this locker room and the guys we have here.”
Receiver Jordy Nelson confessed to being both surprised and disappointed by Jennings’ comments, while Randall Cobb simply said Jennings’ opinion isn’t his own. Cobb also defended Rodgers’ leadership of the team, and the quarterback’s approach won’t be changing.
“I’m very confident in my style,” Rodgers said. “I think the guys respond well to it. It’s fun being the oldest, longest-tenured guy on the team.
“I’ve seen a lot and been around a lot and learned a lot of lessons, and one of the lessons you learn is you can’t control everything, and you shouldn’t worry too much about the things that are said outside the building. You worry about the opinions of your teammates and how they feel about you.”
Regarding Braun, Rodgers feels betrayed, though he didn’t use that exact word. The Milwaukee Brewers star and close friend was suspended for the remainder of the baseball season for using performance-enhancing drugs less than 18 months after having a 50-game suspension for a positive drug test overturned on a technicality and then vociferously proclaiming his innocence.
Immediately after the first suspension was overturned in early 2012, Rodgers took to Twitter and, with an attitude similar to Braun’s, defended his friend, only to be “shocked” by Braun’s acceptance of the new suspension this past week.
“I was backing up a friend who looked me in the eye on multiple occasions and repeatedly denied these allegations, said they weren’t true,” Rodgers said. “It doesn’t feel great being lied to like that, and I’m disappointed about the way it all went down.
“I trusted him. That’s the thing that probably hurts the most.”
Rodgers and Braun are in the restaurant business together, and Rodgers wouldn’t say what’s next with that relationship, but he sounded as though he’d be keeping the personal issues separate from the business ones.
“I don’t regret backing a friend up,” Rodgers said. “Obviously in hindsight, a more measured approach next time would be a better course of action. People make mistakes. I definitely believe in forgiveness and moving forward.
“Right now, I’m focused on football.”
That focus has been there throughout the offseason for Rodgers, who said he was especially dedicated to his nutrition and conditioning over the past several months. Head Coach Mike McCarthy praised Rodgers for one of his best offseasons to date, while Rodgers joked about “turning heads” by walking through the locker room in a cut-off shirt.
All kidding aside, Rodgers appears as mentally tuned in as ever, and McCarthy perhaps helped get him there with a pre-camp speech to the team about “protection, connection and reflection.”
It was the “reflection” piece that stuck with Rodgers, as McCarthy showed the team a video of the Super Bowl ring ceremony from June 2011. Rodgers reflected, and is once again re-dedicated.
“You get a little choked up,” he said. “That was a special moment, kind of frozen in time, being all together there for the last time, that group, thinking about what we’d accomplished.
“I think when you reflect back, you realize how special those moments are, and it gives you that desire and that want to have those moments again. I think Mike does a great job of weaving the past and the future together to get us focused on the present.” Additional coverage - July 26