Rodgers’ leadership style won’t change because of garbage from Jennings
By Jason Wilde, ESPN Wisconsin
~GREEN BAY – Nothing that ex-teammates Greg Jennings or Donald Driver said this offseason about his leadership style has prompted Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to change the way he approaches his teammates and his role as the team’s longest-tenured player.
Rodgers, speaking on the season premiere of his weekly radio show on 540 ESPN and ESPNWisconsin.com Tuesday afternoon, did not speak specifically about what Jennings, now a member of the Minnesota Vikings, or Driver, who retired in February as the franchise’s all-time leading receiver, said about him.
But when asked if their comments caused him to reevaluate his leadership style and alter it in any way, Rodgers said no.
“I don’t feel like I need to,” Rodgers replied. “I feel like I’m going to continue to lead the way I’ve been leading. And I think guys respond very positively to that and appreciate my style of leadership.
“There’s a reason that I’m on the leadership council. There’s a reason I’m voted a captain. And I stand by those things.
“You learn all the time about leadership: It’s a constant educational process. To gather information about your teammates and try to find the best ways to inspire those guys and push those guys and get the most out of them.
“But I’m very confident in the way I lead. I think (Packers coach) Mike (McCarthy) believes in my style of leadership and I think the guys respond favorably to that. So, it’s not going to change. I enjoy what I’m doing, I love my job, I love the game of football and I put a lot into it and expect to get a lot out of it as well.”
Since signing with the Vikings as a free agent in March, Jennings has made multiple comments about Rodgers and the Packers organization, although he hasn’t said anything about the team or his former quarterback recently.
Jennings’ most direct criticism of Rodgers came in a Star Tribune story in which Jennings said, “”For me, I’m such a team person, I’m going to defer to my teammates. I’m going to defer to the team, to the team, to the team. And I think when you reach a point where you’re not deferring any longer, it’s no longer really about the team. … “Don’t get me wrong, ‘12’ is a great person. But when you hear all positives, all positives, all positives all the time, it’s hard for you to sit down when one of your teammates says ‘Man, come on, you’ve got to hold yourself accountable for this.’ It’s hard for someone to see that now because all they’ve heard is I’m doing it the right way, I’m perfect. In actuality, we all have flaws.”
Driver, appearing on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike last month and responding to a question about what Jennings had said, criticized Rodgers for not taking the blame for his wide receivers when they would make mistakes.
“We’ve always said that the quarterback is the one that needs to take the pressure off everyone else. If a guy runs the wrong route, it’s easy for the quarterback to say, ‘Hey, I told him to run that route’ than for the guy to be like, ‘Well, I ran the wrong route,’” Driver said. “Sometimes you ask Aaron to take the pressure off the guys so we won’t look bad, but he didn’t want to do that. He felt like if you did something bad, you do it. But I think that’s the difference. You want that leadership, and I think sometimes you may not feel like you got it. You have to earn that respect at the end of the day, and I think that’s what Greg was probably referring to.”
Ex-Packers safety Charles Woodson, now with the Oakland Raiders, disagreed with Jennings and Driver in an interview last month.
“I think whatever you do – if you run the wrong route and you’re a receiver, or if you’re a quarterback and you throw an interception – it’s up to you as an individual to say you messed up,” Woodson said. “I don’t think A-Rod has to be sticking his neck out to say I told him to do something if that’s not what happened. If A-Rod needs to take the blame for something, I’m quite sure he does.
“I didn’t understand that part, either. There’s no question in my mind that A-Rod’s the leader of that team and he does a great job. Maybe he thought he had some friends where he doesn’t have some friends. Now that those guys are gone, they’re voicing this. I don’t know how that’s fair.”