Aaron Rodgers during postgame press conference

There’s no doubt Aaron Rodgers loves football, but there is doubt as to whether he loves the game as much as he loves seeing his name attached to bizarre headlines.

After avoiding the limelight during his first 15 years in the NFL, Rodgers has fully embraced his platform on The Pat McAfee Show, sparking controversy and wild headlines on every episode to the point that it has Stephen A. Smith questioning the quarterback’s priorities. Not long ago, Rodgers won 13 games in three straight seasons while adding back-to-back MVPs to his résumé, but last year, at the age of 39, the Green Bay Packers quarterback failed to make the playoffs.

Friday morning on ESPN’s First Take, Smith determined the down season by Rodgers’ signals that he’s more focused on making headlines than preparing to win football games.

“Aaron Rodgers seems more committed to making headlines at this point in his career than he is to winning,” Smith ranted. “Nobody is bringing that up. I am not accusing the man of going out on the football field and not trying to win, but…there are nuggets of intel that we have witnessed and received over the years that shows, that there’s more that Aaron Rodgers could have done to facilitate winning.”

Smith proceeded to cite Rodgers for skipping organized team activities while failing to build relationships with some of the team’s younger wide receivers. During a radio interview last month, rookie wide receiver Romeo Doubs even awkwardly admitted he hasn’t spent any time with the aging quarterback outside the facility. Rodgers might not be great at building a rapport with his teammates, but he’s great at creating headlines via The Pat McAfee Show.

“I never watch Pat McAfee with Aaron Rodgers,” Smith continued. “I watch Pat McAfee with everybody else. That’s the one thing I do skip. I have no interest in seeing Aaron Rodgers on The Pat McAfee Show, because Aaron Rodgers just keeps talking, talking, talking, instead of winning, winning, winning. And that’s what annoys me! Aaron Rodgers ain’t won a playoff game since he’s been on The Pat McAfee Show, have you noticed that?”

Actually, that’s false. Rodgers just completed his third consecutive season on The Pat McAfee Show. In his first year with a weekly spot on the show during the 2020 NFL season, Rodgers led the Green Bay Packers to a Divisional Round playoff win over the Los Angeles Rams before losing to Tom Brady in the NFC Championship Game. But to Smith’s point, that 2020 season with McAfee was much less tumultuous for Rodgers, as compared to the weekly headlines he’s created during his last two years on the show.

“That’s not Pat McAfee’s fault, he’s got a great show!” Smith added before noting most professional athletes are superstitious and usually take note of which routines lead to wins and which ones lead to losses.

“Yet Aaron Rodgers seems oblivious to that,” Smith ranted. “’So what I ain’t won a playoff game since I’ve been on The Pat McAfee Show!’”

Ever since he lied to the media about his vaccination status in Aug. 2021, Rodgers has attempted to portray himself as a slayer of “fake news.” But the alter ego he depicts of hating the media is fake news in itself. Rodgers loves the headlines, he loves the ensuing reaction, he loves being the culprit of the shock factor, otherwise he wouldn’t be doing it on a weekly basis during the season. Those headlines might not be helping his cause on the field, but broadcasting that he’s a conspiracy theorist for the last two years probably isn’t the sole reason he hasn’t won a Super Bowl since 2011.

[First Take]

About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to bcontes@thecomeback.com