Mike Vandermause column: Mystery isn't fair to fans, Rodgers

Dec. 19, 2013
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers looks on from the bench during a Nov. 24 game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field. / File/Press-Gazette Media
A fan cheers with a printout of Aaron Rodgers face stuck in his cheesehead in the fourth quarter of the Packers 26-26 tie with the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field. / Kyle Bursaw/Press-Gazette Media


When is quarterback Aaron Rodgers going to play again?

For the past month, that’s the only question that anyone truly cares about regarding the Green Bay Packers.

Sadly, the Packers organization has done its best to give out as little information as possible about Rodgers’ broken collarbone and his playing prospects.

The Packers will argue they simply don’t know when Rodgers will return. Fair enough, but that still is no excuse for providing vague, sometimes cryptic, and rarely direct information about the injury and healing process.

Their reluctance to offer detailed updates on the status of their superstar quarterback is a disservice to Packers fans and Rodgers.

In the court of public opinion, Rodgers is taking a beating in some small but growing circles.

There have been accusations that Rodgers is soft, and that a tougher quarterback would have returned by now.

It’s a ridiculous argument given the nature of collarbone injuries, but the Packers and their tight-lipped injury reporting policies are begging any hack with Internet access to lob grenades at Rodgers with wild and unsubstantiated theories.

Here’s a novel concept the Packers should consider: full injury disclosure.

What would be the harm in providing specific details about Rodgers’ collarbone injury and his recovery progress? Instead of inviting rumors and innuendo, the Packers would control the debate with the facts.

Instead, Packers coach Mike McCarthy goes out of his way to be evasive. For example, McCarthy on Wednesday was asked about Rodgers and said: “We’ll see how he is tomorrow. We’ll set a plan for him again tomorrow.”

So at his press conference the next day, when asked if Rodgers had been medically cleared, McCarthy said: “No, he was not evaluated today. Wednesdays and Fridays.”

It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, in the Packers’ world, the less information provided about Rodgers’ injury, the better.

McCarthy could explain specifically why Rodgers hasn’t been medically cleared but chooses to speak in generalities and leave everyone guessing.

If McCarthy is afraid to give an opponent a competitive advantage by revealing too much news, maybe he should consider how the 11-2 Seattle Seahawks handle injury reports.

Earlier this week, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll announced that cornerback Brandon Browner would be out between four and six weeks with a groin pull. But Carroll didn’t stop there. “It’s not just a pulled muscle,” Carroll said. “He has tissue damage.”

Carroll’s straightforward comments didn’t reveal any high-level secrets, and it would be a stretch to think they will contribute to a Seahawks loss down the road. Most important, Carroll’s forthright approach ended any idle speculation about the injury, something McCarthy should consider in Rodgers’ case.

The cat-and-mouse game McCarthy and Rodgers are playing with the public is almost comical.

When asked for details about Rodgers on Thursday, McCarthy replied: “The specifics of how he feels and anything he wants to share with his injury situation, those questions should be for him.”

So a few minutes later in the locker room, Rodgers was asked about the prospect of getting medical clearance, and he replied: “I think you have to talk to Mike (McCarthy) about that one. I’m not sure about that.”

That’s what you call getting the runaround. Is it any wonder Packers Nation is in a state of confusion?

Rodgers isn’t doing himself any favors with some of his evasive answers about the injury.

When asked if he would be getting a CT scan this week on his collarbone, Rodgers said: “I’m not sure about that.”

A follow-up questioner asked if a scan was scheduled, to which Rodgers replied: “I don’t think we’re going to release that, but I’m sure there’s people out there who can make up information or there’s a leak out there who will let you know if that’s going to take place.”

That’s the second straight week Rodgers made a reference to a media leak about his injury. Had Rodgers provided full disclosure, he would have shot down any wayward reports or misinformation.

Rodgers said he was surprised by the enormous day-to-day coverage his injury has received, which in itself is revealing.

Neither Rodgers nor the Packers organization seems to understand the importance of keeping their fan base informed. Those are the same people that make the NFL as popular and lucrative as it is, and they deserve better.

mvandermause@pressgazettemedia.com and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause.

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