TE's rep: Aaron Rodgers not leader
Given Aaron Rodgers' place as the NFL's reigning MVP, now might seem like an odd time for his leadership skills to come into question -- even with the Green Bay Packers' offense getting off to a surprisingly slow start in the first two games of the season.
But to some extent, that's what happened in the wake of Thursday's game. The agent who represents Packers tight end Jermichael Finley caused a minor stir this week by posting a message on his Twitter account that appeared to question Rodgers' ability to lead.
Agent Blake Baratz wrote a post late last week praising the leadership of several elite NFL quarterbacks and criticizing Jay Cutler, whom Baratz wrote "doesn't get it" after watching the Bears quarterback talk in his postgame news conference.
For people to question his leadership is ridiculous. He's a natural-born leader, not just by what he says, but how he carries himself, how he plays the game, how he handles certain situations. Everybody in this locker room looks up to him as a leader. Everybody in this locker room believes in him.” -- Packers WR James Jones, on QB Aaron Rodgers
When asked by a fan why Rodgers wasn't on his list of leaders, Baratz replied that, "ARod is a great QB he isn't a great leader. There's a major difference. Leaders take the blame & make every1 better. He doesn't."
As his comments gained traction among Packers fans, Baratz wrote a subsequent post apologizing to Finley on Tuesday and defended his right to have an opinion.
"Last comment on Twitter Frenzy: 1) I apologize 2 @jermichaelf88 because he had nothing 2 do w MY comments or opinions. I understand the power of social media and how it can be taken in & out of context. Again, I will apologize for that.
"I will always own up 2 my own opinions, I have no reason 2 hide from them, but please always understand, they're mine & mine only."
Wide receiver James Jones came to Rodgers' defense Tuesday, saying there's no reason for anybody to think twice about Rodgers' leadership skills.
"For people to question his leadership is ridiculous," Jones said, as the Packers began preparations for a Monday night game at Seattle. "He's a natural-born leader, not just by what he says, but how he carries himself, how he plays the game, how he handles certain situations. Everybody in this locker room looks up to him as a leader. Everybody in this locker room believes in him."
Finley and Rodgers were not present when the Packers' locker room was open to reporters. Rodgers is expected to conduct his usual media availability later in the week.
The mini-controversies were a byproduct of a more troubling trend for the Packers, who have not yet met their typically high offensive standards.
Jones on Tuesday also said he deserved the scolding he got from Rodgers in the Thursday night win against the Bears, shrugging off any temporary tension as a sign of two players showing their competitive nature.
Jones took responsibility for not making the right route adjustment on a play during the win against Chicago, which led to an interception. Jones said he and Rodgers already had talked about it.
"He apologized, said he's sorry for showing his emotions," Jones said. "But I was like, [there's] no need to apologize. We're trying to win. I messed up. Frustration happens. It's all good. No love lost. We're teammates. We're family in here. Like I said, everybody's trying to win."
Speaking on his ESPN 540 radio show in Milwaukee on Wednesday afternoon, Rodgers confirmed he apologized to Jones and made clear he wished the incident hadn't occurred at all.
"That was something I apologized for because I never want to show up a guy on the field like that," Rodgers said. "... It's the competitor coming out, which is not an excuse for it. ... It's not something I enjoy doing. There are times where it definitely comes back the other way. You know how that feels. Almost to a man, there is always a moment of apology and getting back on the same page and realizing that as frustrating as the moment can be, the emotion shown is never really worth it."
Jones took the blame for miscommunication on the play.
"It was my fault," Jones said. "I gave him mixed signals. I mean, we're all emotional out there, man. It's common, man. We do a lot of head gestures and stuff like that, the camera may not just be on us. Me and him, we're both competitive, we're trying to win. It was my fault. We don't ever want to turn the ball over. I'm not mad at him. Shoot, we're trying to win, man. Get on me. I messed up. "
Information from ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert and The Associated Press was used in this report.