Ziperski: No trust in this process

April 19, 2018, 3:08 a.m.

On the first day of the Green Bay Packers’ offseason workout program earlier this week, quarterback Aaron Rodgers channeled his inner Sam Hinkie and told reporters that “you’ve got to trust the process” when asked about some of the team’s controversial decisions.

Namely, reporters wanted to know how Rodgers felt about the team’s decisions not to renew the contract of Alex Van Pelt, the quarterback coach who oversaw his 2014 MVP season, and to release wide receiver Jordy Nelson, arguably Rodgers’ favorite target in the passing game. These moves were done without Rodgers’ consultation, arguably a slap in the face to the man who is the only reason the Packers contend for a Super Bowl each and every year rather than being relegated to the bottom of the league.

When Rodgers went down with a collarbone injury in October of the 2017 season, Green Bay’s chances of winning a championship evaporated overnight. Without him, the offense looked listless for the remainder of the season; backup Brett Hundley was unable to generate anything on that side of the football. With every game — every frustrating outing — that passed, it became clear that without Rodgers, the Packers were nothing.

I don’t know whether Rodgers fully trusts his coach Mike McCarthy (he shouldn’t) or new general manager Brian Gutekunst (the jury is still out on him). Perhaps his statements to the press reflect a desire to remain professional rather than his true feelings. Still, the team’s behavior towards its star player is deeply troubling; going behind his back to do what they’ve done this offseason signals has clearly hurt Rodgers, and the relationship between him and the team needs to be repaired.

Rodgers, as a player, doesn’t deserve to have control over personnel decisions affecting the team, and he acknowledged as much in his press conference. And the personnel decisions that the team made without his consent may indeed be good ones; Nelson’s stagnant production made him too expensive to keep around, and perhaps a new quarterback coach will take the offense in an even better direction. What matters, however, is not the outcome of these decisions, but the process by which they were made. The team could have at the very least reached out to Rodgers for his advice, and in the case of Van Pelt, even let him decide who his own quarterback coach would be. But management did nothing of the sort, instead keeping Rodgers in the dark. Given how important he is to the team, Gutekunst and McCarthy’s actions were downright disrespectful.

Rodgers can’t and doesn’t expect that the team will delegate personnel decisions to him. But he’s a franchise player, Super Bowl champion, future Hall of Famer and the best player to ever suit up in green and gold: he deserves at least a chance to make his voice heard in the organization, particularly when it involves his close friend and position coach. The decision to keep Rodgers in the dark is a failure on the team’s part. No matter how much sense the decisions might have made from a football or financial sense, no matter how great their other free agent signings might be, the Green Bay Packers have failed this offseason: they damaged the relationship with the one player on the team whom they cannot afford to alienate. And moving forward, the team’s first priority must be to repair that relationship.


Contact Andrew Ziperski at ajzip ‘at’

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