Gail Sideman Publicity


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Rodgers adds fuel to publicity fire

First there was a story in which Green Bay Packers personnel, named and anonymous, called out quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ and former coach Mike McCarthy’s leadership. This added to public speculation that the Super Bowl winning duo weren’t as buddy-buddy as each claimed during the past year.

A day later, McCarthy disputed elements in Tyler Dunne’s Bleacher Report story. But the buzz around alleged disfunction in the Packers organization, not known for airing its dirty laundry, continued, and NFL-loving fans wondered how the new mega-million dollar quarterback would approach — or if he would touch — the piece that spoke of egos, accountability and arrogance.

Against my public relations advice, Rodgers came out swinging when asked. Ok, I wasn’t Rodgers PR counsel, but I wish he would have called. As in most cases when someone tries to refute a story without thinking it through or consulting professionals, Rodgers’ fiery response to Dunne’s story on ESPN Wisconsin’s Wilde & Tausch only fueled speculation, contradiction and intimidation which was purported.

Since the Bleacher Report piece came out, I thought that Rodgers had to address it, if briefly, before he told reporters that he would not discuss his relationships with former members of the Packers organization again.

It wouldn’t have made great radio or been discussed in every broadcast and written piece after it aired, but there would be peace in Packersland this “off-season” had he said a few simple thing:

I respect {player} and {player} and they were valuable assets to the Packers organization. I simply disagree with theirs and others’ takes.

• [In regard to his relationship with McCarthy] We had wonderfully productive years in Green Bay. We won a Super Bowl together. No one can take that away from us or the Packers. At this point, I can’t wait to get to work on the 2019 season and help lead the current team back to a title.

Boom. Done. No national headlines or extended chats about how defensive he is, or his relationship with McCarthy. There would be no criticizing former Packers players, personnel or media. Just brief, simple and [with a hat tip to Bill Belichick] on to 2019. He can speak the same words every time he’s asked.

Because Rodgers took the route he did, he and his teammates, along with the new coaching staff, will be asked questions to elaborate on his comments during their media availability from now until at least the beginning of training camp. From then forward, on–field performance will rule — if the Packers win. Lose, and locker room/relationship whispers are bound to surface again. That’s life in professional sports.

To understand Rodgers’ mindset, we’re all human and want to defend ourselves when people say negative things. But when you’re a two-time NFL MVP quarterback, you have to think about what you say in public more carefully than the average Joe. Rarely one to hold his opinions, Rodgers did what was right for him. As a publicist I don’t think it was the smart thing. It detracts from what is supposed to be a fresh start for all.


©Gail Sideman, 2019

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