Aaron Rodgers is pushing back against the narrative that he ghosted the Green Bay Packers on his way out.
In his first offseason with the Jets after spending 18 seasons in Green Bay and becoming the longest-tenured player in franchise history, Rodgers said there indeed was limited communication with Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst in the leadup to his April trade to New York. The more relevant issue in his eventual departure from the Packers, per Rodgers, 39, was his belief that the team wanted to move on.
"Did Brian text me more than I texted him? Yeah, but did I ghost him? No," Rodgers told The Athletic in an interview for a story that published Wednesday. "I texted him back. There was back-and-forths that we had and so this is the story you wanna go with? You’re gonna stand on this hill of austerity and say that arguably in the conversation of the best player in your franchise history, you’re gonna say I couldn’t get a hold of him and that’s why we had to move on?
"Like, c’mon man. Just tell the truth, you wanted to move on. You didn’t like the fact that we didn’t communicate all the time. Like, listen, I talk to the people that I like."
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Were Packers ready to move on with Jordan Love?
The Packers picked quarterback Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft, which, according to The Athletic, became a point of contention for Rodgers. In the two seasons after Green Bay made that selection, Rodgers won consecutive AP NFL Most Valuable Player awards with stellar play, though Green Bay failed to move on beyond the divisional round of the playoffs in both seasons.
After Rodgers' production declined in the 2022 season, the Packers remained noncommittal about his future as the team's franchise quarterback. He underwent a darkness retreat so he could meditate and weigh his future and, when he came out of it, he contended that the Packers had made it clear they were wanting to move on with Love as their starting quarterback.
"They want to move on, and so do I," Rodgers said in March during an appearance on "The Pat McAfee Show" in which he stated his intention to play for the Jets.
How does FaceTime factor into Aaron Rodgers-Packers matter?
The Packers' version of this has been that Rodgers was not communicative. Rodgers chalked that up to a lack of cell phone service in his home in California and said Green Bay should've tried reaching him via FaceTime.
"I have zero or one bar at the house, so you call me − sometimes it goes through, most of the time it drops and doesn’t go through," Rodgers told The Athletic. "Everybody who knows me, when I’m out west, they know that’s how to get a hold of me. So you can say whatever you want about that, but that’s the (expletive) truth.
"Before I went in the darkness, I hit ’em up and said, ‘Hey, there’s some stuff swirling around here. We should get together, you, me and (head coach) Matt (LaFleur).' "
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jets QB Aaron Rodgers says he didn't 'ghost' Packers this offseason