Aaron Rodgers speaks, believes Packers’ front office has lost sight of what makes the organization successful

Aaron Rodgers has finally spoken.

The three-time NFL MVP broke his silence Monday night, speaking on camera about football matters for the first time since news broke April 29 that he did not want to return to Green Bay.

Appearing on ESPN’s SportsCenter for longtime host Kenny Mayne’s final show, Rodgers largely dodged questions about his career and whether he wanted it to continue with the Packers. But the quarterback did make pointed comments about what seems to be among his biggest grips — that the front office has lost sight of what makes the the third-oldest NFL club successful.

“Sometimes people forget what really makes an organization. History is important, the legacy of so many people who’ve come before you, but the people, that’s the most important thing,” Rodgers said. “The people make an organization. The people make a business. Sometimes that gets forgotten. Culture is built brick-by-brick — the foundation of it — by the people. Not by the organization, not by the building, not by the corporation. It’s built by the people. I’ve been fortunate enough to play with a number of amazing, amazing people and got to work for some amazing people as well. It’s those people that built the foundation of those entities. I think sometimes we forget that.”

Rodgers did not report for the first day of voluntary OTAs Monday in Green Bay, a change from his normal offseason schedule. Instead he was spotted in Hawaii dancing, singing and playing guitar with fiancé Shailene Woodley. The decision to stay away cost him $500,000 in workout bonuses and the team can start fining him if he doesn’t take part in the mandatory minicamp June 8-10.

The 37-year-old was asked if he had requested a trade but he wouldn’t touch that question. He did, however, throw water on the idea that his biggest issue was the Packers moving up in the first round of the 2020 draft to take his potential replacement in Jordan Love.

“With my situation, it’s never been about the draft pick, picking Jordan. I love Jordan. He’s a great kid. A lot of fun to work together,” Rodgers said before lavishing praise on most everyone else within the organization. “Love the coaching staff, love my teammates, love the fan base in Green Bay. An incredible 16 years. It’s just kind of about a philosophy and maybe forgetting that it is about the people that make the thing go. It’s about character, it’s about culture, it’s about doing things the right way.”

There was one group missing in all that love from Rodgers and it was the people that make the personnel decisions. It’s not hard to read between the lines that his biggest issue is with GM Brian Gutekunst and the way Rodgers believes the front office has forgotten that players are more than cogs in a machine.

“Green Bay has always been about the people,” Rodgers said. “From Curly Lambeau being owner and founder, to the 60s with Lombardi and Bart Starr and all those incredible names, to the 90s teams with coach (Mike) Holmgren, (Brett Favre) and the Minister of Defense (Reggie White), to the run we’ve been on. It’s about the people.”

For his part, Gutekunst has admitted he could have handled communication with Rodgers about the drafting of Love better. He’s also taken steps this offseason to show Rodgers they are committed to winning now by re-signing most of the team’s priority free agents and adding a talented offensive weapon in the draft with wide receiver Amari Rodgers. There was also a report from The Athletic’s Bob McGinn that the team made a contract offer that would have made Rodgers the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL and locked him in as the starting quarterback for years to come. None of that, at least to this point, has been enough to get him back.

“A lot of this was put in motion last year. The wrench was kind of thrown into it when I won MVP and played the way I did,” Rodgers said. “This is kind of just the spill out of all that, but it is about the people and that’s the most important thing.”