The Aaron Rodgers saga is the biggest story in the NFL right now. I don’t make the rules; that’s just the way things are.
In a league characterized by ho-hum transactions and nuclear-family levels of predictability, having the guy who just won league MVP say that he hates his team’s front office is an honestly refreshing theatrical episode. I’m a big NBA follower, and that league seems to be characterized by drama meaningfully more than the NFL — though I suppose the NFL’s MO has always been about the “serious business” of the sport. Cannot imagine why.
There are plenty of big-name media personalities weighing in on the Rodgers situation. Many of these people claim to have legitimate ties to Rodgers. Some of these alleged sources are a bit more suspect than others, especially if you are Adam Schefter and cite an “accumulation” of takes as bona fide gospel. With such a wide breadth of sources and headlines, it is hard to know who, if anyone, is more on-base than others.
Who do we trust? Is there any source out there, current teammates notwithstanding, with legitimate ties to Rodgers worth listening to amidst all of the chatter and clickbait?
Well, there is at least one such person: James Jones.
The following is a PSA for non-Packers fans out there keeping up with the Rodgers drama: James Jones is as credible a source as anyone is going to find on the inner workings of Rodgers’ brain. Green Bay faithful are acutely familiar with the heroics of Jones’ time in Lambeau. However, the casual NFL fan may not know of his escapades and links to Rodgers.
This is why you should pay attention to the things James Jones says.
You’re forgiven if you don’t know who James Jones is. He was, at best, the WR3 on a healthy roster his entire career. Unless you’re a savant or a devout fantasy football player like myself, it’s not necessarily expected that you know a role player whose heyday was almost a decade ago.
To Packers fans, Jones is that dude. He played eight years for Green Bay, amassing 5,195 receiving yards and 45 touchdowns in that span. Jones had five catches for 50 yards in Super Bowl XLV, and he also led the league in receiving touchdowns in 2012 with a whopping 14. The true definition of solid and dependable, the Packers haven’t had a WR3 like Jones since his retirement after the 2015 season.
The important thing to note here is Jones’s extensive relationship with Rodgers. He played nearly his entire career with Rodgers; they won a Super Bowl together, and he was clearly near the top of the list of trusted receivers when the game was on the line. Those 14 TDs in 2012 were not a fluke. Rodgers always looked to Jones in the red zone.
It would then make sense that Rodgers would keep up a relationship with a player he trusted on the field. That notion can be applied to so many of the players that Rodgers has worked with; take a look at his crew at the Kentucky Derby, for example:
As much as Rodgers is maligned because of his supposedly fractured relationship with his family, he’s always been there to support his teammates. When James Jones finally retired, Rodgers was there. Rodgers does not take these relationships lightly, and he maintains many of them to this day.
That’s why he was featured on The Pat McAfee Show with A.J. Hawk all season long. It’s also why Rodgers trusts Jones with more critical and personal information than he usually gives out to others. For example, remember when Jones broke the news of Rodgers’ new contract extension?
Jones isn’t just some guy spewing out takes for content and clicks. He’s one of the few people who have a genuine relationship with Rodgers. That alone speaks volumes.
That’s why Jones’ most recent interview with Colin Cowherd (of all people) should carry much more weight in the press than it has. Say what you want about Cowherd, but he did a great job of engaging Jones and getting some quality answers out of him regarding the Rodgers dilemma. This entire segment sheds a great deal of light on the situation.
Note that Jones laughs at Cowherd when he says, “…this tells me that [Rodgers] will come back when they fire the GM [Gutekunst].” Jones knows that is not the case and that much of this whole situation has been blown out of proportion. Jones, like Rodgers’s other friends, is adamant that the situation is fixable.
Jones is also smart not to give up too much here. When Cowherd asks what Rodgers’ “No. 1 beef” with the franchise is, Jones does not disclose any information other than expressing that it is private. There is a whole other side to this saga that you, me, and most everyone else do not know about.
However, Jones brings up a great point about Rodgers’ dissatisfaction with how the franchise lets players go. This argument would seem to make the most sense. I speculated on this notion last week when I wrote about how the Jordy Nelson situation likely played into Rodgers’ dissatisfaction with the franchise.
Moving forward, I anticipate the conversation around what Rodgers is specifically unhappy about to shift in this direction. So long as the words are coming from the mouth of James Jones, I am inclined to believe that those are going to be the most accurate portrayal on the matter. I would also lean into Jones’ prediction that Rodgers will, in fact, return to Green Bay instead of holding out or demanding a trade.
I would encourage you to believe the same.