Aaron Rodgers Looks Like MVP in The Match While Leaving Packers Future Uncertain

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystJuly 7, 2021

BIG SKY, MONTANA - JULY 06: Aaron Rodgers plays his shot from the tee as Bryson DeChambeau looks on during Capital One's The Match at The Reserve at Moonlight Basin on July 06, 2021 in Big Sky, Montana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images for The Match)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Aaron Rodgers' demeanor on the football field—calm, cool and collected with more than enough subdued snark to play mind games with his opponents—translated during his performance throughout Capital One's The Match on The Reserve at Moonlight Basin in Big Sky, Montana. 

Rodgers and the world's sixth-ranked professional golfer, Bryson DeChambeau, emerged victorious in the charitable contest against fellow quarterback Tom Brady and the great shot-maker himself, Phil Mickelson. 

"Aaron does a great job getting inside people's heads," Mickelson stated before any of them even entered the first tee box. 

Golfing fans with little to no understanding of professional football's dynamics likely had no clue Rodgers is holding the Green Bay Packers hostage because of a deteriorating—currently nonexistent—relationship with the organization's front office.

When asked about his potential to play for the Packers this fall, Rodgers remained noncommittal. 

"Yeah, I don't know. We'll see," Rodgers said when asked by TNT's Brian Anderson whether he'll be in uniform for Green Bay's Oct. 17 meeting with the rival Chicago Bears (after cameras spotted a bear on the course). 

Anderson pressed further by inquiring about the season opener against the New Orleans Saints

"What's that one?" Rodgers responded. 

"I'm just out here having a good time with Tom. I'm trying to talk to him about whether he's going to keep playing or not."

BIG SKY, MONTANA - JULY 06: Tom Brady (L) and Aaron Rodgers meet with guests during Capital One's The Match at The Reserve at Moonlight Basin on July 06, 2021 in Big Sky, Montana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images for The Match)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Brady will play this fall, of course. Rodgers deflected, while his future remains in question. At least, his future in Green Bay is cloudy. 

Ultimately, the audience watched as an amateur outplayed his professional counterpart, particularly around perfectly landscaped greens surrounded by indefatigable hazards. 

DeChambeau knew he had a massive audience with a spotlight on his genetically engineered long game, especially on a course that catered to "hitting bombs," as Mickelson so aptly stated prior to the actual event. 

The aggressiveness of the Scientist's game caused him to spray balls all over the course. Rodgers hit the ball more consistently. At the very least, the quarterback kept the ball in play more often. But he became absolutely deadly with a putter in his hand. 

His accuracy on those short strokes rivaled seasonal performances when he threw five or fewer interceptions. 

"He's been clutch on the putting green. ... He's as clutch as it comes," DeChambeau said. "I've never seen somebody on the greens that clutch. ... Normally, I'm decent putting on tour. But this guy rolls it in every time." 

Through 14 holes, Rodgers hit five of 10 fairways and sank four birdies. Both numbers bettered his partner. The finale of that particular stretch became a lost cause for both teams when Match officials cranked up the heat with the one-club challenge. Both teams struggled to control their landing zones.  

Two more holes later, the NFL's reigning MVP put an end to the proceedings with an eight-foot-ish putt to ensure the victory. 

"I haven't played a lot of golf. I'm just a pretty good putter. I said, 'Just get me on the green,'" Rodgers stated during the postgame interview. 

Beautiful fluffy clouds dotted the skyline during a gorgeous Montana evening. However, an unseen cloud hung over the quarterback's status. 

Earlier Tuesday, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported no players opted out of the 2021 NFL campaign. The option provided a potential backdoor for Rodgers if the 37-year-old veteran remained undecided about his future. 

Instead, he's simply a holdout with no intention of returning to the Packers any time soon. His opponents on the golf course knew full well of his situation and used it to take playful jabs. 

"I'm 30 yards away from Aaron, who's the leader of the Packers, I think," Brady quipped when asked by Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammate Rob Gronkowski, who conducted a phone-in interview, why he missed valuable time with the team this offseason. 

Gronkowski jokingly added, "Aaron looks more lazy now than I did in retirement."

On the 16th green, Mickelson couldn't help himself either as his team trailed by two holes. 

"Partner, I'd equate it to being 4th-and-3 and we're down eight. I don't think we should be kicking a field goal," this year's PGA Championship winner told Brady in an obvious dig at the Packers' poor decision in the NFC Championship Game. 

The back-and-forth started even before all parties met. Brady had no problem saying the quiet part out loud, even if he did so with a smile on his face. 

"He's unhappy with his boss and has no options," Brady said during a promotional segment styled around a Jeopardy-like game, per ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio. "Who is Aaron Rodgers?"

Rodgers laughed and said: "That's a projection, Tom. I never said I'm unhappy with my boss."

Brady replied, "I said it, not you."

The 43-year-old, seven-time Super Bowl champion knew exactly what he was saying and the effect it would have around the league. Rodgers isn't happy, though he won't say so in those exact words. His passive-aggressive nature won't allow it. He did explain what has bothered him since the Packers chose his heir apparent, Jordan Love, with the 26th overall pick in the 2020 draft during an interview with Kenny Mayne on ESPN's SportsCenter (h/t Rob Demovsky):

"With my situation, look, it's never been about the draft pick, picking Jordan [Love]. I love Jordan. He's a great kid. A lot of fun to work together. I love the coaching staff, love my teammates, love the fan base in Green Bay. Incredible 16 years. It's just kind of about a philosophy and maybe forgetting that it is about the people that make the thing go. It's about character, it's about culture, it's about doing things the right way."

BIG SKY, MONTANA - JULY 06: Aaron Rodgers (L) and Bryson DeChambeau celebrate after winning Capital One's The Match at The Reserve at Moonlight Basin on July 06, 2021 in Big Sky, Montana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images for The Match)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Right now, Rodgers is living his best life. He got engaged to actress Shailene Woodley, went on an epic vacation and won a charity golf event, all while enjoying life with little to no responsibilities. But everything is coming to a head soon, and he can't divert attention for too much longer.  

Packers training camp begins July 28. Rodgers' absence from organized team activities and even mandatory minicamp is one thing. The team's franchise player not being on the field during crucial preparation leading into the preseason and then the regular season is something completely different.

Rodgers has a decision to make. Either he reports or he pushes his current holdout possibly into the regular season. He can't putt his way out of this predicament. There are no gimmes here. He has to take a stand, and Green Bay will be forced to act accordingly. 


Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @brentsobleski.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.