Rodgers says the darnedest things

Telling fans to ‘keep their mouths shut' is no way to win supporters, and his thin skin is cause for concern.

What are you thinking?

That's the question du jour for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. By now, you've likely heard or read a quote by Rodgers in the Sports Illustrated that hit newsstands today. SI writer Chris Ballard asked Rodgers a perfectly logical question about whether he "feels pressure to connect with the fans the way (Brett) Favre did."

Rodgers' reply? "I don't feel I need to sell myself to the fans. They need to get on board now or keep their mouths shut."

Ouch. That sort of crass comment is straight out of the Ryan Leaf and Jeff George collection of discount greeting cards.

This makes at least a couple of times in which Rodgers has come across as overly thin-skinned. During his first meeting with reporters as the Packers' starting quarterback, during organized team activities in May, Rodgers said there were fans who were hoping he'd fail as Favre's successor.

Maybe there are a few fans out there like that, but they don't represent anywhere close to the majority, and they certainly don't represent true Packers fans.

More comments like "keep their mouths shut," however, will give Rodgers a lot shorter leash from the faithful. As a first-year starting quarterback, Rodgers faces enough pressure, from replacing a legend to leading a team with championship aspirations. What Rodgers doesn't need is to turn off enough fans that they start howling for rookie Brian Brohm should the offense produce too few points or he throw too many interceptions. That would be added pressure he doesn't need.

This should be Rodgers' honeymoon period. It's the offseason, a time when all things are possible. He hasn't thrown a bad pass to lose a game. He hasn't heard a single boo.

So why bring gasoline and a match when the fans are handing you the emotional equivalent of cake and flowers?

Perhaps this is just a verbal misstep from a guy who hasn't been in this position before. He is only 24, after all, and if kids sometimes say the darnedest things, young adults are also apt to say the stupidest things.

These verbal blunders — no matter his spin control on Tuesday — lead to more serious questions. If he can't handle the relative tranquility of the offseason, how is he going to react if he's taking a beating because his blockers can't handle the Vikings' defense line, a running back misses a blitzing Brian Urlacher or a receiver juggles a well-thrown pass into the waiting mitts of a defensive back?

A couple of years ago against the Patriots, Rodgers' exuded all sorts of negative body language as he took his lumps, often shaking his head in disgust as the offense crumbled around him. It appeared he had matured considerably since then, but his recent combativeness puts that into question.

We'll see Rodgers' true colors when August turns into September, and the regular-season grind arrives. Having your teammates over for dinner in May and June is great, but it will all mean nothing if Rodgers behaves boorishly toward the fans and his teammates in September or December.

Steve Lawrence is a frequent contributor to E-mail him at

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