Rodgers, McCarthy Show Leadership, Character

Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy were masterful in handling the fallout from Monday's Seattle debacle, from Rodgers issuing the apology to fans that the league wouldn't dare provide to McCarthy hoping his team shows its "mettle" against the Saints.

Monday will rank as one of the most horrific days in Green Bay Packers history.

Tuesday will ranks as one of its best because of the class and honesty exuded by quarterback Aaron Rodgers and coach Mike McCarthy.

Speaking to ESPN Milwaukee's Jason Wilde, Rodgers intelligently and rationally dissected the punch-in-the-gut final play that robbed the team of a gutty comeback victory and gave voice to the greed and pompousness that's run amok at NFL headquarters.

"First of all, I have to do something that the NFL is not going to do, and I have to apologize to the fans," Rodgers said.

Speaking to reporters in the Lambeau Field media auditorium late Tuesday afternoon, McCarthy took the high road and put a forward-looking spin after having a hard-earned victory ripped from his grasp.

"This is a different situation than we've been in as a team but this is a great opportunity to show our character and show our mettle," said McCarthy, using the level tone that's marked his tenure. "We're looking forward to getting out there Sunday."

Wilde's opening question was about the fateful Hail Mary. Rodgers launched into a well-thought-out, 1,000-plus-word lecture on how one play summarizes the disrespect for the game shown by commissioner Roger Goodell and the head-in-the-sand stubbornness of owners such as Dallas' Jerry Jones, who told Dallas radio station 105.3 FM that he only had read a "little note" about the outcome of the game in the newspaper.

"The game is being tarnished by an NFL who obviously cares more about saving a little money then having the integrity of the game diminish a little bit," Rodgers said.

Rodgers was like a lawyer making closing arguments. Bit by bit, he destroyed the NFL's half-baked explanation of the Seahawks' fraudulent victory.

Reading directly from the NFL's statement:

When the players hit the ground in the end zone, the officials determined that both Tate and Jennings had possession of the ball.

"I call bull on that, because they say the ‘officials,'" Rodgers said. "No, there was no communication between them. ... One of them is signaling over his head that the clock stopped, the game is over and he was about to signal touchback. The other, from who knows what angle as he's looking at M.D. (Jennings) on top of Golden Tate, and he's going to say that that's a catch by the receiver while M.D. has the ball to his chest, which is also usually the association with the simultaneous possession rule is that who has the ball to their chest first. And as the rule reads — we've all probably read it at some point in the last 24 hours — it reads simultaneous possession does not exist when one person has the ball and the other tries to put his hands on top of the ball, which is obviously what happened in that situation. Everybody saw it, you saw the replay."

Under the rule for simultaneous catch, the ball belongs to Tate, the offensive player. The result of the play was a touchdown.

"That's garbage, obviously," Rodgers said. "Then it goes on to say – they're still covering their butt here:

Replay Official Howard Slavin stopped the game for an instant replay review. ... Referee Wayne Elliott determined that no indisputable visual evidence existed to overturn the call on the field, and as a result, the on-field ruling of touchdown stood.

"So, Wayne, you're telling me that you're only in there for about 15 seconds, that you looked at that thing and didn't see Tate's right arm come off of the ball?" Rodgers wondered. "Whatever part of the ball that he was grabbing or whatever part of M.D. Jennings he was holding onto with his left arm just barely underneath as M.D had the ball to his stomach and was on top of Golden while Golden was wrapping his arms around M.D.'s back. You're telling me that there was no indisputable visual evidence that existed in that replay to return that call? I mean, c'mon Wayne, that's embarrassing. This is the NFL here saying they should have called pass interference and saying that the refs got it right in the end zone. Unbelievable."

How big of deal was Monday's fiasco?

"I received more text messages and e-mails than I did after the Super Bow," McCarthy said.

McCarthy got his first look at the play while on the plane back to Green Bay. With a short week, McCarthy quickly turned his focus to Sunday's game against the Saints. In fact, McCarthy said he hadn't seen the NFL's statement that was torn to shreds by Rodgers.

"Based on what I've been told about it, I'm sure I'm not in agreement with it," McCarthy said.

So, while the sporting world — and the political world, for that matter — became nothing more than a constant loop of Tate's incredible no-handed touchdown catch and talking heads breaking down the broken officiating — McCarthy was working on the third-down game plan for Sunday's game.

"Our players are passionate, they're emotional right now, understandably so, but it's time, we start channeling our energy towards New Orleans," he said.

Not that this controversy is going away any time soon. A matchup between two of last year's powerhouses is a hot game once again, even though the teams have a combined 1-5 record.

"We need to stay focused. We're not going to get any help (from reporters," he said. "I know this is going to be a story that everybody wants to continue to talk about. And, frankly, I'm not going to act like it's not there. This is a play that will, I'm sure we'll see on TV as we move on in our lives. that's the facts of our business. That's the beauty of what Steve Sabol created, God rest his soul. The fact of the matter is, we're about New Orleans. We're in tune with staying true to the integrity of the Green Bay Packers, how we conduct ourselves, being professional during a tough time, during a challenge. A different challenge, but I'm excited about overcoming it. I look at this as an opportunity to put another feather in our cap."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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