Almost exactly two years ago to the day, ESPN’s Adam Schefter dropped a bombshell report that Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers told people in the organization that he didn’t want to return for the upcoming season.
At the time, Schefter received plenty of pushback for the timing of his report (the day of the NFL Draft) as well as the assumption that it was planted by the Packers in order to send a message to their star quarterback.
Rodgers and the Packers did indeed dance around one another that summer before the mercurial signal-caller eventually reported to camp. However, the incident appeared to ignite some bad blood between the two, with Rodgers roasting Schefter during a 2021 appearance on the Pat McAfee show in which he (playfully?) referred to the ESPN reporter as “an unathletic, weak chin, no ass [guy].”
The animosity carried over into the following two years as Rodgers entered his “critical thinker” phase and his relationship with the Packers continued to strain. While the quarterback started to tune out pretty much anyone in the media other than McAfee, he would come back around to single out Schefter or NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport from time to time.
Meanwhile, it started to become clearer and clearer that the Packers and Rodgers were heading for a divorce, either due to his retirement or via trade. In January, Schefter first reported that Rodgers was going to get traded. By early March, Schefter was floating the New York Jets as Rodgers’ only viable option if he wanted to continue playing in the NFL next season.
“My sense is there continues to be more and more signs about him leaving Green Bay,” said Schefter on SportsCenter. And I think in the end, my sense is ultimately it will come down to whether he wants to play elsewhere, which would be really the New York Jets, or whether he wants to retire. To me, those are the two most logical options and the two most likely scenarios here. But again, we have not heard from Aaron Rodgers himself.”
In the meantime, Rodgers pushed back pretty vehemently on Rapoport regarding the specifics of his “darkness retreat,” using it to say in a larger context that he and Schefter “make s*** up.”
“There’s an inner circle and in my inner circle, nobody talks to Ian Rapoport or Adam Schefter or to any of those people,” Rodgers told Pat McAfee in February. “Just stop with the fake news.
“I have no problem with Ian Rapoport, Schefter. I think they’re really good at their jobs. When it comes to me, they don’t know s***. They really don’t. They don’t have people in my inner circle who are sources, I can promise you that. And anybody who would talk to them is not in my inner circle. It’s that simple.
“How many f*cking narratives can come from one show where they didn’t even actually listen to what I said. And again, nothing against Rapoport, but he doesn’t have anybody who knows legitimately what’s going on in my life. So for him to say something, ‘Monday through Thursday I was supposed to be in there,’ that was never the plan. It hasn’t been the plan for four months. So don’t make s*** up. I don’t have your number, you’re not gonna have my number, you do a great job, but not when it comes to my life, so stop talking about it.”
Finally, on March 15, Rodgers confirmed Schefter’s report that he wanted to be traded to the Jets, though not without letting the world know that he told Schefter and fellow ESPN reporter Dianna Russini to hit the bricks.
“Ask Schefter what I texted him when he somehow got my number and texted me,” Rodgers told McAfee. “I didn’t respond to Dianna Russini, I think her name is? She got my number as well. But like, I would say the same thing that I told Schefty. Lose my number, nice try. I’ll speak for myself. I’m sure there will be people that have their sources, but from what I’ve seen, I had a sheet of paper when I met with the Jets and I said, ‘sign these people.’ That’s not the reality. That’s ridiculous.”
Adam Schefter breaking the Aaron Rodgers trade news made for great live television on ESPN. ??? pic.twitter.com/qPdBeHk0N2
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) April 24, 2023
Thus completed this drawn-out ordeal, essentially assuring that anyone could look back on the last two years and see that Schefter pretty much had the whole thing reported correctly the entire time, in spite of what the quarterback would have you believe.
Schefter said two years ago there was acrimony between Rodgers and the Packers. There was. He reported that the Packers would trade Rodgers. They did. He reported that Rodgers was either going to retire or ask for a trade to the Jets. Rodgers later admitted that he considered retirement before deciding to play for the Jets.
The specifics on his darkness retreat were a little off, though that came from Rapoport. Other than that, it all checked out in the end.
Plenty of criticisms have been lobbed at Schefter over the years and we’ve often been the ones lobbing them. And those criticisms are well-deserved and earned. But for all of his faults, the ESPN insider rarely misses when it comes to NFL transactional reporting, especially at this level. Much like with Tom Brady’s initial retirement, it might look a little messy along the way, especially if the subject denies the report, but in the end, it almost always happens.