Aaron Rodgers Calls Matt LaFleur Drama 'Fake News'; Rips 'Clickbait' Headlines

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 14, 2019

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers talks with teammates before the start of an NFL preseason football game against the Houston Texans Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Mike Roemer/Associated Press

Aaron Rodgers and his head coach, Matt LaFleur, have been in the news recently, with some reports suggesting there might be a rift between the two in their first season working together. 

But Rodgers thinks that talk is simply coming from media members with a desire to attract website hits and ad revenue, as he told his former teammate John Kuhn (h/t Sean Wagner-McGough of CBS Sports): 

"It's fake news, John. That's the media cycle these days. Unfortunately, the media—other than obviously yourself—there's a lack of integrity, I think. There's a rush to put up headlines that are clickbait because the ad revenue is based on the amount of visits you get to your website. So instead of putting in a title that aptly fits the forthcoming article, it's more lucrative to post something that's going to generate the most commotion so that your site or your story gets the most hits possible. And when you're in a really low news cycle like in June and July, when there's not much football going on, that's the kind of stuff that comes out. We don't need to spend any time talking about it because it's complete ridiculousness."

Rodgers also more specifically addressed his relationship with LaFleur with reporters on Tuesday:

"We have a great line of communication. I'm not sitting up here, wishing people, 'I wish you just knew this.' I don't care. Look, I don't need to go out and prove to anybody how great Matt and I are getting along. Or him stand up there and say how great it's been. Look, we're having a great time. We're communicating. The conjecture is for clickbait news stories you guys can put on your websites. Not you guys, I mean like most of you people in here."

On one hand, the relationship between Rodgers and his new head coach is a logical storyline. Much of Green Bay's season will hinge on how well Rodgers operates in a new system, and whether the pairing can lead the Packers back to the postseason after a two-year hiatus.

And there have been signs that Rodgers and LaFleur will have to find a philosophical middle ground. Rodgers, for instance, likes to audible at the line, while LaFleur's system doesn't really facilitate a lot of audibling.

LaFleur himself told Michael Silver of NFL.com in June that it was something the pair would have to work out:

"Aaron and I have had some good talks, and we're going to have to talk a lot more—and one thing we have to work through is the audible thing. We're running a system I first picked up while working with Kyle (Shanahan) in Houston a decade ago, and we've never really had a quarterback who's had complete freedom to change plays at the line, because that's not really the way the offense is set up. But, I mean, this is Aaron Rodgers. He's had a lot of freedom to make those calls, and deservedly so. Now, how do we reconcile that, and get to a place where we put him in the best position to succeed?"

On the other hand, fielding the same questions ad nauseum has to be annoying, even for a seasoned veteran like Rodgers, who knows the media game well at this point. That doesn't mean that Rodgers and LaFleur are absolutely 100 percent in sync—they haven't had that much time to work together, after all—but it does mean that Rodgers seems to be justifiably fatigued from hearing, and seeing, the same old storyline this offseason.

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