Aaron Rodgers on calling out mistakes publicly: “People in this society have a hard time hearing truth sometimes”

USA TODAY Sports

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers met with reports on Wednesday. Unsurprisingly, a major topic of conversation came from his public criticism of anonymous players for making widespread mental errors in games, at a rate of 20 percent. Rodgers had no regrets about what he said.

“People in this society have a hard time hearing the truth sometimes,” Rodgers said at one point during a 15-minute press conference at his locker.

Rodgers was asked if it counts as good leadership to take his concerns to the public, when he could have done so privately.

“I did it privately,” Rodgers said. “I’m not saying anything [publicly] I don’t say to those people. So, that may be talking about a conversation that is behind closed doors in public, but the level of accountability is at this level. Again, I don’t think it should be a problem for any of these people to hear criticism. We all hear criticism in our own ways, and we all have to be okay with it and absorb it and process it. And if it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fit. But if it is appropriate, we must spend it and develop these special things.

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“I’m not going to be a robot up here. I don’t understand why people have a problem with things that are true. You know, I call things as I see them. If people don’t think I need to broadcast that stuff, that’s their opinion. But I’m doing what I think is in the best interest of our people, and I’ve tried a lot of different things in terms of leadership this year. And I was relating my personal feelings about the situation. I didn’t call anyone by name.

“I think we all need to be on details. And that includes me. If I need to, you know, have additional conversations with these people during the week, I’m going to do that. And we have done that to some extent. But, you know, I’m not just putting one or two forward. I am warning everyone that this has not been good enough, and we all need to do a little better job. You know, if one of these people has a problem with it, I’m right here. I would love to have a chat. I enjoy these conversations. You know? I like any kind of conflict like that, because I know that the intention on the other side gives us a better unit, better friendship, better cohesion on the field. But no one came to me and said, ‘I have a problem with what you said.’ I think everyone knows, Matt [LaFleur] including, that everything needs to take a little uptick, get a little better.”

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Rodgers was asked at one point if he had specific players in mind when he said some should be recruited to make regular mental mistakes.

“No use,” Rodgers said. “I think it’s just, you know, we have to get the best eleven on the field. . . . We can’t have the same double-digit, fifteen-plus mental errors and we plan to move the ball effectively.”

In general, Rodgers believes his teammates should have a thick skin.

“We should all be able to handle criticism,” Rodgers said. “That’s the nature of our job. Everything we do is scrutinised, from myself down to the young players. And it’s important to get used to dealing with that in a positive way, whether it’s coming from one of you, or from me, or from [coach] Matt LaFleur. We have to be coachable, all of us.”

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So what does it take to eliminate the errors?

“Time,” Rodgers said. “You know, we have a schedule. We are creatures of habit. But when we leave this place, we have to make sure that we are doing the right thing when we are home. Some of that is watching a movie. Some of that is studying the plan. Some of that is examining ourselves. But we have to make sure we’re ready to go every day we walk in the building.”

And the root of the concern is obvious. Rodgers believes that boys don’t go above and beyond the minimum to make themselves better. It’s an ironic statement, as Rodgers has underperformed in the last two seasons. Maybe if he had attended offseason workouts and/or gathered his teammates to throw sessions in the down time, they wouldn’t be making mental mistakes now.

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