He’s here. After months of uncertainty, disgruntled quarterback Aaron Rodgers is in Green Bay for the start of Packers training camp. The reigning NFL MVP was a no-show throughout Green Bay’s offseason program, threatening to retire if the team didn’t trade him. While away from the Packers, Rodgers made a number of public cameos, appearing at the Kentucky Derby, The Match in Montana (where he played alongside PGA pros Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson), the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship in Tahoe and Hawaii with his fiancée, actress Shailene Woodley of Big Little Lies fame. He also hosted Jeopardy! for a two-week spell in April.
Rodgers flipped the sport on its head with the seismic news of his trade request, relayed by ESPN’s Adam Schefter hours before the start of the NFL Draft. A number of Vegas sportsbooks removed the Packers’ betting odds from their boards this weekend in anticipation of the 37-year-old’s imminent retirement, though Rodgers and the team that drafted him 24th overall in 2005 appear to have reached a compromise that will keep him in Green Bay for at least this upcoming season.
Rodgers, who reportedly turned down an extension that—had he accepted it—would have made him the league’s highest-paid quarterback, posted a cryptic Instagram story over the weekend (as did teammate Davante Adams), invoking Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls’ “Last Dance.” Adams and Rodgers seem to be implying that 2021 will be their final season together in Green Bay, just as the Bulls’ championship trio of Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson went their separate ways after 1998.
Though Rodgers wouldn’t get into specifics with Kenny Mayne when the former SportsCenter anchor inquired about his holdout, the 16-year veteran spoke of “culture” and “doing things the right way” while insisting his trade request had nothing to do with the Packers taking his likely successor, Jordan Love, in the previous year’s draft. Rodgers, who ranks fourth among active signal-callers in career passing yards (only Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan are ahead of him), appeared despondent after the Packers’ season-ending loss to Tampa Bay in January’s NFC Championship Game at Lambeau, seemingly throwing his own coach, Matt LaFleur, under the bus for electing to kick on fourth-and-goal with Green Bay trailing by seven late in the fourth quarter.
Had Rodgers, who touched down in Green Bay late Monday night, continued his holdout into training camp, the nine-time Pro Bowler would have been subject to daily fines of up to $50,000.