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

USA TODAY Sports

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was briefed Wednesday. Unsurprisingly, the dominant topic of conversation came from his public criticism of his anonymous teammates for making numerous mental errors in games, at a rate of 20%. Rodgers, unsurprisingly, had no regrets for his remarks.

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

Rodgers was asked if it counted as good leadership to make his concerns public, when he could have done so in private.

“I did it privately,” Rodgers said. “I do not say anything [publicly] that I don’t tell these guys. So this may be talking about a closed-door conversation in public, but the level of accountability is the norm here. Again, I don’t think it should be a problem for any of these guys to hear criticism. We all hear criticism in our own way, and we all need to be okay with it, embrace it, and deal with it. And if it doesn’t fit, then it doesn’t fit. But if it fits us, we have to wear it and improve some things.

“I’m not going to be a robot here. I don’t understand why people have a problem with things being truthful. You know, I call it what I see it. If people think I don’t need to air this stuff, that’s their opinion. But I’m doing what I think is in the best interests of our guys, and I’ve tried a lot of different things from a leadership perspective this year. And I was talking about my personal feelings about the situation. I didn’t call anyone by name.

“I think we all have to be on the details. And that includes me. If I need to have, you know, extra one-on-one conversations with these guys during the week, then I’ll do that. And we have to some extent. But, you know, I don’t just blow up one or two guys. I’m alerting everyone that it hasn’t been good enough, and we all need to do a little better. You know, if any of these guys have a problem with that, I’m here. I would like to have a conversation. I enjoy these conversations. You know? I appreciate any type of conflict like that, because I know that the resolution on the other side will make us a better unity, a better friendship, a better cohesion on the ground. But nobody came to me and said, ‘I have a problem with what you said.’ I think everyone knows, Matt [LaFleur] understand, that everything has to take a little better, improve a little.

Rodgers was asked at one point if he had any specific players in mind when he said some should be benched for making consistent mental mistakes.

“Not necessarily,” Rodgers said. “I think it’s fair, you know, we have to get our best eleven on the pitch. . . . We can’t have the same double-digit, plus-fifteen mental errors and expect to move the ball effectively.

Generally speaking, Rodgers thinks his teammates should be thick-skinned.

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

So what will it take to eliminate errors?

“Time,” Rodgers said. “You know, we have a program. We are creatures of habit. But when we leave this place, we have to make sure we do the right thing when we’re home. Some of them are watching a movie. One part is studying the plan. Some of this is self-study. But we have to make sure we are ready to go each day we enter the building.

And there is the apparent root of the worry. Rodgers thinks guys don’t go beyond the bare minimum to improve. It’s an ironic remark, given that Rodgers has done the bare minimum over the past two offseasons. Maybe if he’d attended off-season practices and/or gathered his teammates for downtime pitching sessions, they wouldn’t be making mental mistakes now.

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