It’s no secret that Aaron Rodgers has been the centerpiece of NFL media throughout the 2020-21 offseason. Much of that coverage — on social media, in particular — was pessimistic and not the easiest for Packers fans to swallow.
That was yesterday.
A-Rod is back, and all is well (for now) in Green Bay. But let’s not forget about that social media.
Social media is the primary news outlet in the 21st century for one of the NFL’s largest audiences: millennials. Whether it be following team accounts or getting the latest scoop from beat writers, a large sector of NFL fans jump on Twitter miles before going to that old-school, trusted website.
Yet perhaps the most influential role that social media has had on fans is the inside access folks get into the lives of their favorite players. That couldn’t be more true for Packers fans.
Despite being one of the most successful franchises in football history, the Packers have a work-hard, stay-quiet mentality. Yes, Aaron Rodgers has cracked headlines more than a few times, but that seems to resonate as separate from the organization as a whole. Outside of Rodgers, the team hasn’t necessarily had a Johnny Manziel, Cole Beasley, or Tom Brady on the social media front, for better or worse.
It’s not often that a team can take pride in the highly recognized social media behavior of their players. Yet in quiet, humble Green Bay, the Pack have a trio of notable players who are nothing short of a quality follow for all the right reasons.
Kurt Benkert (@KurtBenkert)
An undrafted free agent from the University of Virginia signed by the Atlanta Falcons in 2018, Benkert is the most lovable third-string quarterback in the entire league. And while Benkert is no lock to make the 53-man roster, he’s certainly won over Packers fans with his honesty and sense of humor.
Benkert first made headlines with his media day press conference that featured him explaining how he met Aaron Rodgers — outside the bathroom. Benkert also drew some laughs when speaking about how he was released by the Falcons after just being signed.
Benkert’s feed features everything from wholesome pictures on Family Night at Lambeau to promotions of his gaming stream.
Gaming was perhaps the biggest topic that put Benkert on the national stage. A passionate (and pretty damn good) gamer, Benkert spoke about the stigma of video games being bad at his most recent presser.
While his chances of being the next Aaron Rodgers are improbable, Benkert’s mantra is a key indicator that he’ll be an excellent contributor to team culture. I’m not an NFL GM, but I’d keep this guy on the roster just for the relationship-building skills that he may bring to the table.
David Bakhtiari (@DavidBakhtiari)
The top-class lineman for the Pack is more than just an incredible asset on the field. The University of Colorado alum is quite possibly one of the most hilarious follows on Twitter. Bakhtiari’s feed is filled with some high-quality PG-13 content, yet his biggest punch took place inside a basketball arena.
No. 69 has been an absolute beverage-gassing force at Milwaukee Bucks games in the past few years.
Bakhtiari’s impressive consumption talents were complemented by a good old-fashioned jersey swap earlier this season, giving fellow OT Dennis Kelly his jersey to wear at camp. In fact, the two had never met before. Bakhtiari recognized the strikingly similar appearance between the two, and his outstanding sense of humor took over from there.
While these tweets may come from sources outside of Bakhtiari, he’s without a doubt worth a follow. See for yourself.
Aaron Rodgers (@AAronrodgers12)
Yes, we mentioned Rodgers earlier for the negative social media that has surrounded his name. Yet, it would be poor journalism to leave his name off this list. Rodgers has long interacted with members of the social media community with great humor. We saw that firsthand on Tuesday.
Poor Matt. But in all sincerity, it’s great to see the best player in the NFL interacting light-heartedly with media members, a relationship that isn’t always so casual.
Rodgers has also used his platform to support causes that are near and dear to his heart. Following the horrendous wildfires in Rodgers’ Northern California home, he actively encouraged followers and the general public to contribute to those affected by the disaster.
Love him or hate him, Rodgers has a big heart, and it’s great to see that he’s using his status to help those in need.
Why does this matter?
The concept of separating pop culture and social media has become commonplace in today’s world for pro athletes. Yet, for those who can handle the separation, it’s critical that they use their platform in positive ways.
Obviously, there are different levels of this. Seeing Bakhtiari chug beers may crack a smile from a random fan; Benkert’s wholesomeness may elicit a grin; and Rodgers’ humor, combined with genuine care, may draw one to care for those who are hurting.
At the end of the day, social media doesn’t dictate who wins the Super Bowl. Yet when you’ve got guys who are all shedding a positive light in a world that can seem dark, it’s tough not to cheer for them.