By now, we've all seen the quote from Sports Illustrated:
"I don't need to sell myself to fans. They need to get on board now or keep their mouths shut."
And, of course, his backtracking and contrition of his words:
"I do care deeply about the fans and I think anybody who has been to training camp sees a lot of times I'm the last one out signing autographs. I care about the fans; I care about their opinions. Everybody wants the fans to care for them and to pull for them and I am no different."
Now, I just shake my head at this, y'all. And you should, too. Because the media is having a blast with this story, which once again, they created.
I've commented many times about the media's incessant need to sensationalize everything, but up to this point, I have always seen it from my own point of view. I know that the media is catering to me, looking for my viewership for their "scoop". And, by and large, they get it.
We, the average sports fan, have to be aware of the view of the sports world that we get from the media. After all, they are the eyes and ears that are supposed to translate what we can't see and hear ourselves. We can watch the game, but they interpret it for us, color it with their words, and shape heroes and villains with their prose.
This is the responsibility of the media, a responsibility that has always been prone to bias and agendas (the old movie "The Natural" featured the epitome of the crooked journalist, Max Mercy, threatening to make or break Roy Hobbs' career). The advent of ESPN's "sports entertainment" has taken that to new heights and spawned a generation of irresponsible journalists.
However, it wasn't until now that I realized that those Media Goggles work both ways.
Aaron Rodgers anger and frustration, brought about by the constant comparisons and questions about his predecessor, bubbled to the top in the SI article when he realized he was being compared to every other hack who ever tried to replace a legend...in other words, being branded the next Brian Griese before he has his first start.
This would be enough to tick me off. Truly. But Rodgers chose to tee off on the fans.
Now, this puzzles me, because I'm a pretty good observer of fan chatter on the Internet, and the one thing that I don't notice is a lot of gloom and doom about Aaron Rodgers. Oh, sure, there's the familar concerns that most of us have about his injury history and the growing pains that he, like every other young quarterback, is going to have. But the fan who vocally is choosing to decry Rodgers before he even makes his first start is a pretty rare thing indeed.
What I'm sadly realizing, though, is that the media also colors the viewpoint of Aaron Rodgers. As a reporter rails into him about how difficult it is to replace a legend, you can almost hear him saying, "Well, Aaron, the word is out on the street that you can't do it." or "You are being asked to replace one of the best of all time, Aaron. What do you have to say to the fans who are doubting you?"
Get what I mean? Mike Vandermause loves to paint Rodgers as a victim of the "Spectre of Favre", and yet who is actually making him the victim? Who is convincing him that he has to prove himself to an entire fan base?
Once again, the spectre of the media is creating this issue, and it almost seems that it is an obsession for them to create a bar so high that Rodgers can never reach it, much like the topic of the SI article that brought us the bitter words from our new starting quarterback.
Let me explain this, slowly and clearly, from my heart to your screens:
* Aaron Rodgers' success is Packer success. If he succeeds, the Packers do well. If he does not, the Packers will be forced to move on to other options. The best option is for Aaron Rodgers to do well, and for fans to give him at least as much patience as was given to a wild young thrower in the early 90's who grew into his own big shoes after a while.
* Aaron Rodgers needs to not concern himself about what the media thinks or what they say the fans think. He is paid millions of dollars to play professional tackle football and if he plays well enough, will soon be making tens of millions of dollars to professional tackle football. There aren't a whole lot of things he can control except his own approach to the game and his own performance, and that's all he needs to worry about.
* The media needs to get over Brett Favre and quit riding both players about legacies and "whether or not Favre might return". He's not going to return, at least not to the Packers. This is borderline irresponsible journalism, and is the media shaping the sports world, instead of reporting on it.
* We, the fans, need to quit rewarding ESPN and the other journalistic leeches with our attention every time the decide to make the Favre/Rodgers story more than it needs to be. Like Wal-Mart, it wouldn't be so big and threatening if we didn't keep buying it.
As I read the various media outlets, its amazing how they are putting this all back on Rodgers and/or Favre, avoiding any accountability they might have in the matter. That's the way the media works...one gets the player to crack, the rest pounce on it like vultures.
In the end, if the media keeps getting their stories, the victim will be Aaron Rodgers, and like the SI article seems to want, history will repeat itself with the curse of the "next QB".
The question is, while we know who the victim would be, who will get the blame for being the culprit?