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NY Jets: Latest Aaron Rodgers frenzy reveals lazy media narrative

Aaron Rodgers, NY Jets, Media, Narrative
Aaron Rodgers, New York Jets, Getty Images

Lazy narratives continue to surround Aaron Rodgers and the New York Jets

There is nothing like the summertime. Between the warm weather, longer days, and time spent at the beach or pool, it is a time of relaxation and recharging.

In the NFL, the summer is a time for learning and preparation. Rookies and free agents begin to learn their new systems, while veterans use the time to ramp up toward training camp and the regular season. Ultimately, though, these practices are not seen as the end all be all. The “important” practices are when training camp starts in late July.

However, those rules seemingly do not apply to the New York Jets simply because they have Aaron Rodgers on their team.

At Tuesday’s media availability, head coach Robert Saleh said that Rodgers would not be in attendance for the team’s mandatory minicamp. He said that the absence was “unexcused” and would be subject to fines but added that it was conveyed to the team a while ago and that it was not “a surprise.”

“Aaron and I are on the exact same page,” Saleh said earlier today. “There’s no issue between Aaron or his teammates, for that matter. We addressed it yesterday. It’s more of an issue for everyone outside the building than it is inside.”

It seems self-explanatory, right? After attending every OTA practice this summer, Rodgers missed the minicamp for an event that he had already informed the team about. And to keep things consistent for the team, Saleh conveyed it as an “unexcused” absence. Even if the communication could have been better, the message was clear. Right?

Nope. In fact, this small story has now blown up in the media and revealed a narrative that is not surprising to most.

Take ESPN’s Matt Miller, for example. Responding to a tweet from Rich Cimini, the draft analyst said, “Gimme the under on Jets wins this year.”

As a draft analyst, Miller should know that a June minicamp practice does not dictate the outcome of an entire season. But alas, the narrative persists: The Jets are screwed because Rodgers is missing mandatory minicamp.

Or, take ProFootballTalk, who is a constant detractor of Rodgers. The company’s X account posted a burning house meme in reference to Rodgers not showing up to minicamp.

Mike Francesa got in on the fun and took it a step further.  He called Saleh a “bad head coach and a bad leader” on the most recent episode of his podcast. This take was not derived from the team’s play in a bad loss or from a player speaking poorly about him. No, it arose from a veteran quarterback missing a practice in June.

There are plenty of others, too, from Jason La Canfora to Nick Wright to Colin Cowherd. Rodgers is getting blasted for his absence, and by association, the Jets are catching the brunt of the criticism, too.

At the end of the day, Rodgers is not above criticism. He has done plenty of things that have warranted criticism from the media, whether it is on the field or off of it. It has helped to create the reputation that exists to this day.

However, the firestorm that has been created from this situation is not warranted. Rodgers did not miss a single OTA practice and was in the building for media day and physicals. The veteran missing two practices in June does not mean the entire organization is burning from the inside out.

Yet, it is easy to portray that narrative. It is easy to simply say, “Lol Jets,” and immediately assume that a historically inept organization is again acting poorly. Furthermore, it is a narrative that will drive engagement; the minute a post about Rodgers or the Jets is made, a swarm of replies, quotes, and reposts usually follow.

The Rodgers situation encapsulates what is wrong with sports media today. In every topic of discussion, whether it ranges from Caitlin Clark to the MVP conversation in football, there is no nuance. Everybody needs a hot take, a punchline that can grab them views and engagement. Getting something correct is less important than being first to a news story. The information is not valued, but rather the entertainment aspect.

Aaron Rodgers is not the first player to miss a mandatory practice in June. He will be far from the last player who does. Plenty of players will hold out due to a contract situation or miss practice for a personal reason. Those players will not have a media frenzy surrounding them.

Tom Brady missed 11 days of training camp in 2022. There was nowhere near the same media attention surrounding him as Rodgers.

In writing this article, I am not blindly defending the Jets. Saleh and the organization as a whole could have communicated this situation much better. There was a way to illustrate that the team knew of Rodgers’s absence without leaving room for speculation. It is something that the team has struggled to do in a positive fashion for years.

Additionally, Rodgers should have been in attendance for the minicamp practices. He is arguably the most essential part of the team’s roster heading into the 2024 season.

But, this is where the nuance comes into play. While Rodgers and the Jets could have handled the situation better, it is not a big deal. Rodgers has been in attendance all offseason, and the Jets have been aware of their quarterback’s plans. That should be the end of it.

It is evident that many media members disagree with Rodgers’s beliefs and actions. That is not a problem in a vacuum, as the quarterback has said many controversial things. The problem arises, though, when those beliefs interfere with objectively covering a story. It becomes an issue when a non-story gets blown out of proportion, possibly due to wanting the story to fit the “Rodgers is bad” narrative.

Simply put, the media has to do better. There has to be more nuance in football coverage and less fishing for clicks and engagement.

So, take a deep breath. Enjoy the summer months. Go touch grass. These practices will not affect the Jets’ 2024 season, so let’s stop acting like the sky is falling.

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