Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has never been the most open book in the NFL, but in recent years he’s emerged a bit more. He was photographed on red carpets with his then-girlfriend, actress Olivia Munn, and one of his brothers, Jordan, spilled the family tea on “The Bachelorette,” while Rodgers has said little, if anything, about his off-field life.
But he’s changed that, at least a little bit, for a profile in ESPN The Magazine’s NFL preview issue. Rodgers met with writer Mina Kimes in Los Angeles, where Rodgers spends much of his time outside of Wisconsin, and allows that he’s letting people in out of “a desire to be seen. Just to be understood a little bit more.”
Tellingly, when Kimes sets her phone down to record their conversation, Rodgers does the same, to make sure he’s not “taken out of context.”
The entire story is worth your time, in our opinion, to get a glimpse into Rodgers’ mind in his own words. But here are some of the highlights:
- His thoughts on religion and faith. Growing up in Chico, California, Rodgers went to church with his family, but even at a young age he had questions. As he grew older and spoke with teammates from different walks of life and different religions, he began reading books about different interpretations of theology. In 2008, he met pastor Rob Bell, known for his progressive views on Christianity, after Bell spoke to Packers players. Rodgers seems to have left organized religion in favor of spirituality; Rodgers and Bell remain close friends.
- He lives in Los Angeles to enjoy the perks of big-city life, but also because there he’s not close to the biggest star many people see on a day-to-day basis. Rodgers doesn’t complain about being famous, but does not downplay its negatives: “Decreased privacy. And increased strain or pressure or stress associated with relationships. Friendships and dating relationships,” he said. Having his relationship with Munn, which began in 2014 but ended earlier this year, play out in the public eye was “difficult,” in part because everyone had an opinion on both the couple and how she might be influencing Rodgers’ play.
- Rodgers’ family life. Jordan Rodgers and their father, Ed, have both said publicly that their relationship with Aaron is fractured. But whether on or off the record, Aaron wouldn’t discuss it: “A lot of people have family issues,” he said. “I’m not the only one.”
- Rodgers envies the culture in the NBA, where players are able to speak their minds on a variety of topics, and believes that the structure of the NFL, with players’ contracts not guaranteed, leads to many deciding to stay quiet to keep their job.
- While Rodgers won’t take part in national anthem protests, he understands why other players do, and believes Colin Kaepernick, who started the protests last preseason, is unemployed because of the stand he took. “I think he should be on a roster right now. I think because of his protests, he’s not,” Rodgers said.
- A topic that comes up throughout the story is Rodgers’ search for happiness. On the bus after winning Super Bowl XLV in Texas six years ago – mere hours after reaching the pinnacle of his sport – Rodgers started to wonder if, in spite of all of the time and effort and sacrifices he’s made for football, that will be his only accomplishment. He wants to get back to the Super Bowl, certainly wants to win another one or two, but that night, Rodgers told Bell, “I’ve been to the bottom and been to the top, and peace will come from somewhere else.”
Kimes’ story is well-written and delves into these topics, as well as others.
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