Aaron Rodgers Just Wanted the Packers to FaceTime Him. They Didn’t.

Forget about straight cell phone calls to the future Hall of Famer when he's at home

New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers talks with a group of journalists after the press conference to introduce Aaron Rodgers as the new quarterback for the New York Jets at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on April 26, 2023 in Florham Park, New Jersey.
Landlines are out of the question with this guy
Photo by Elsa / Getty Images

To think so much time and energy could have been conserved with a calendar invite containing clear call instructions: “FaceTime me.” Apparently that’s all it may have taken to help bring the exhausting “Where Will Aaron Rodgers Play in 2023?” saga to an end quickly and cleanly, according to the future Hall of Fame quarterback and new New York Jet himself.

In his introductory press conference with the Jets yesterday, Rodgers was asked if he had any response to the claim from his former team, the Green Bay Packers, that he was incommunicado during a critical period in the offseason. The Pack’s general manager, Brian Gutekunst, told ESPN in March that he’d tried to contact Rodgers on a number of occasions since the end of the 2022 NFL season, but was unsuccessful. Gutekunst asserted that he was “really looking forward” to conversations with Rodgers about how the QB could fit into the Packers’ plans for 2023. However, “Those never transpired,” Gutekunst said. “So there came a time where we had to make some decisions, so we went through his representatives to try to talk to him [about] where were we going with our team. At that point, they informed us that he would like to be traded to the Jets.”

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We recognize it may be difficult to keep track of this he said, he said junior high school bullshit, for which we apologize, but why did Gutekunst feel the need to inform ESPN that he couldn’t get a hold of Rodgers? Because two weeks prior to that, Rodgers stated on The Pat McAfee Show that Gutekunst and the Packers had not presented their intentions to him.

“I wish that in the beginning of the offseason that had been the conversation, because I love direct communication,” Rodgers told McAfee. “If they had just said, ‘Listen, we think it’s time to move in a different direction. We love you. You’re going to be a Packer Hall of Famer. You’re going to go into the Hall as a Packer. We’re going to retire your number; whatever it might be, but it’s time to move on,’ I would’ve said, ‘Man, thank you so much. Just for telling me that. I really, really appreciate that. That means the world to me that you would tell me that.’”

At yesterday’s presser, Rodgers offered a possible explanation as to why that kind of call never happened: “I will say, people that know me, I’m fortunate to live in a beautiful house. The only downside is that I have very limited cell service. So if you want to get ahold of me, I have to see your face, you gotta FaceTime me. So my only response to the communication thing is there are records in your phone about who called you, when, FaceTime, and there weren’t any specific FaceTimes from those numbers I was looking at.”

While it’s a bit garbled — and you’d think a guy who’s hosted a game show on television that requires speech with pinpoint clarity could do better than that — he seemed to say that the Packers should have known not to call him on his cell phone while he’s at home, but FaceTime him using wi-fi technology instead, and that they failed to do so.

Frankly, I think the best part about Rodgers’ diatribe, which he delivers with slight hints of sarcasm, is the faces of his new general manager, Joe Douglas, and head coach, Robert Saleh, when he issues it. Douglas looks around and seems to be unsure how to react at points, wondering whether or not he should smile, too, as Rodgers does, or just feign sincere support. Saleh just stares at his water bottle, remaining stone-faced throughout. They both have the looks of two people who might be thinking, “Well, this is the kind of weird, immature crap we signed up for. It comes with his throwing arm and ability to read defenses, I guess. Let’s get him out on the field, ASAP.”

Packers beat writer for the USA Today Network, Ryan Wood, tracked down Gutekunst after the Jets press conference, who responded to a question about the Rodgers communication-breakdown explanation with: “Let’s move on from that…I don’t really know what to say to that…I’m not going to get into that. It’s not good for us, not good for them…There was no lack of communication (attempts) from our end.”

Gutekunst also told Wood that he’d initially hoped he’d get a bigger package in return for Rodgers, but had to be “realistic” about where Rodgers is as a player at this stage of his career. (Rodgers is entering his age 40 season with the Jets.)

“Aaron is a great player,” he added. “I’m so appreciative of everything he’s given this organization, and he’ll rightly take his place among some of the greats in the organization when that time comes.”

With some finality to all this, maybe Gutekunst can tell Rodgers as much directly. If he doesn’t have an iPhone, WhatsApp also runs on wifi.

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