The Green Bay Packers’ team-photo flap came back from the dead Saturday.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers rebuked linebacker Nick Barnett and tight end Jermichael Finley early Saturday afternoon for their complaints earlier this week. That triggered a mini-Twitter storm in response from his two teammates and re-opened the storyline just two days before the team’s charter flight to Dallas for the Super Bowl.
After the Packers’ practice Saturday, Rodgers conducted a five-minute session with reporters and used a question about his empathy for players on injured reserve to address Barnett’s and Finley’s public complaints about originally being left out of the team photo.
Rodgers suggested that players shouldn’t complain about not being in the photo if they conducted most of their rehabilitation away from the team.
“I’ll say this, I was on IR back in 2006, and I chose to stick around and finish out the season with my guys and be here every game,” Rodgers said. “Some of those guys didn’t.
“So we love ’em, we care about ’em, we don’t wish injury on anybody. But this is a group of guys that’s really come together, and it’s been great to work with the guys we brought in, midseason some of them, and the young guys. Some of the guys who were injured, they’re still a part of this team, but some of them didn’t choose to stick around.”
When asked if he’d feel closer to players who rehab in Green Bay, Rodgers said: “They’re part of this team, first and foremost, but some guys choose to rehab in other places.”
Based on their reactions, Finley and Barnett obviously construed Rodgers’ comments as aimed at them.
Finley, who sustained a season-ending knee injury in Week 5, remained in Green Bay for the first several weeks after his surgery and subsequent staph infection. Thereafter he’s done most of his rehabilitation out of town.
It’s unclear how much Barnett has been in Green Bay rehabilitating his season-ending wrist injury, though his response on Twitter suggested he spent at least some and perhaps extensive time rehabilitating out of town.
Shortly after Rodgers’ comments were posted by a reporter on Twitter, Barnett responded on Twitter: “Well looks like people have something to say about where some people choose to do there rehab .. try rehabbing with 16 others then 53 more.”
Barnett continued his point with his next tweet: “Doubt you get the full attention needed.. It’s easy to speak about others when you are not in their position.. Talk about 'union' ha.”
After Barnett’s tweets, Finley tweeted: “TRUE FACTS RIGHT THERE.”
Barnett shortly thereafter deleted his previous tweets and tweeted: "Before I delete this page just wanted to say I was never trying to be a distration ... I am packer have been one for 8 going on 9 years."
He continued: “love this team this city.. All I wanted to be is included as a teammate nothing more.. Looks like it has back fired on me.. I guess.”
And he continued: “That was asking too much... Sorry if I offended anyone.. That was not my intention.. Never that.”
The team photo was to be shot early next week without the Packers’ 15 players on IR – 16 counting players on practice-squad IR – who won’t arrive in Dallas until Thursday. At the behest of Rodgers and cornerback Charles Woodson, who met with coach Mike McCarthy earlier last week to go over the team’s off-the-field rules in Dallas, the Packers rescheduled the photo for Friday so the players on IR will be in it.