With every new era comes the end of an old one. Just two years ago the Packers were coming off of an outrageously impressive stretch; a three-year, 39 win run that kept Green Bay as legitimate, perennial Super Bowl contenders. As a new day dawns in Titletown, fans prepare for the challenges and expectations that come with their new look Green and Gold.
A majority of the last decade was led by three stalwarts. Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, and David Bakhtiari weren’t just leaders, they were no brainer Hall of Famers. The type of players that most organizations dream about building their roster around. With Adams in Las Vegas and Rodgers now famously in New York, only Bakhtiari remains to help take on the team’s new journey. But is that what he really wants?
Bakhtiari and the team agreed to a restructuring of his contract that will likely lead to the two sides either renegotiating or parting ways after this season. Until recently Bakhtiari’s off the field persona was most known for crushing beers at Milwaukee Bucks games. He embodied Wisconsin. It’s not that he didn’t ever do interviews, he just didn’t have much to say when he did. He was happy to play football and have fun.
Things are different now. The longtime best friend of Rodgers has grown quite outspoken in the past few months. His behavior and words have left fans wondering if the superstar tackle is trying to force his way out. Is the former Green Bay hero turning heel?
First on the popular Bussin With the Boys podcast, Bakhtiari caused a stir by referring to the team as “they” and declaring that the Packers were in a rebuild. “The Packers are rebuilding, whether you think so or not.” Bakhtiari said when asked about Green Bay’s leverage in a Rodgers deal. “Could they be good? I don’t know. Could they be bad? Probably if you’re betting more people are gonna think they’re gonna be bad than good, right? Isn’t that fair to say?”
He would go on to clarify those comments on a podcast on The Volume network saying:
“They” is the front office. I am not the front office. Like I said before, when I act rationally and I take my emotions out and look from a business standpoint I’m thinking from a 3rd person point of view. So it’s almost annoying the fact that I have to explain that…By responding to any of this it creates credibility and makes it more real [but] this is just people going off on a tangent and nitpicking [the] words for what?
I’m not the type of person who’s going to assassinate my sentences so there’s a type of cryptic message…If I felt like I wanted to disassociate, I would flat out say I’m going to disassociate. And that’s pretty black and white. There’s no gray area with me. So again, if I have to spell it out even further, “they” means front office of the Green Bay Packers when I’m trying to talk about said negotiation tactic.
We’re moving on from a Hall of Fame quarterback! Literally today I talked to Jordan about this. I’m like the Packers rebuilt from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers. What are we going to say? It’s not a rebuild? That is what that is. And that’s totally fine. I’m not saying we’re going to be bad. I’m not saying we’re going to be good. I don’t know and that’s the beauty. No one really knows until we start the season.”
Then Bakhtiari went after a team social media employee on Twitter over the organization’s schedule release video.
During the coaches media availability last week, offensive line coach Luke Butkus was asked if he was concerned about Bakhtiari’s commitment level in the absence of Aaron Rodgers. “I think you know Dave has juice and will always have juice.” Butkus said. “Dave’s going to be fine.”
It’s difficult to completely decipher the situation. On one hand, Bakhtiari has time and again made it a point to explain that he is just speaking his mind and that others are taking him out of context. If you want to know his true feelings on anything just come and ask him, he’ll tell you.
But unfortunately, that sounds awfully familiar to fans. After the Aaron Rodgers drama it’s hard to believe someone employing that methodology. Rodgers week in and week out went on the Pat McAfee show and swore up-and-down there was no truth to anything that was being reported or said about him. He’d say something, people would react, and then he would tell them that’s not what he meant or how he meant it. Everyone was clearly treating him poorly. The reality, we’ve learned since, is different.
If one were into gambling, I’d say the safest bet is not that Bakhtiari is trying to push his way out immediately. Instead he’s trying to make sure that when it comes time to deal with his contract he will have an easy exit. That was the Rodgers playbook. Get upset with the team, play long enough to get your contract situation to where you need it to be, and then leave while blaming the organization.
Very few teams move on from star players as effectively as the Green Bay Packers. From an organizational standpoint it’s good business. From a players standpoint it can be a lot more difficult. It’s not that David Bakhtiari is turning heel in Green Bay, it’s rather he’s seen the writing on the wall. A new era has dawned in Green Bay. With his former co leaders elsewhere, he both wants and understands the same will be true for him sooner rather than later.