GREEN BAY, Wisc. -- Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler are rivals on the field, but they are also friends who happen to be members of a relatively small fraternity. And as a franchise quarterback who credits a supportive and open environment for helping him thrive with the Green Bay Packers, Rodgers was appalled by what Cutler, his beleaguered Chicago Bears counterpart, had to endure last week.
Reacting to reports that Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer admitted last Monday to his players that he'd been an anonymous source in a report by NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport in which Cutler's game-management skills were criticized, Rodgers strongly denounced Kromer's behavior, saying he was "baffled" by the situation.
"I would have a major problem if somebody said something like that," Rodgers said Tuesday during an interview at Lambeau Field. "I think anybody that plays the position, you can't help but empathize with Jay for that situation. You talk all the time about being connected, being a unit, believing in each other. But if you have unnamed sources, people out there cutting you down, and then you find out it's the person calling the plays -- that would be really hard to deal with, to look at him the same way."
Though Kromer reportedly apologized to Cutler -- and the quarterback later said he "wasn't angry" with his coordinator and that the team was in a "better place" following the meeting in question -- Rodgers was far less forgiving.
"I felt for Jay that he was having to deal with that," Rodgers said. "And I was surprised that the coach came out and admitted that it was him. I think, in general, unnamed sources are pretty gutless. But then he comes out and admits it was him. I don't think he deserves any credit for that, but it was interesting that he did."
Yet in Rodgers' eyes, there is a key difference between his and Cutler's work environments. Asked how he would react to being ripped anonymously by one of his coaches, Rodgers drew a distinction between the Packers' locker room and that of their NFC North rivals, crediting coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson for creating an atmosphere devoid of such behavior.
"I would have a major problem with that, if (Packers offensive coordinator) Tom Clements was saying stuff like that about me -- which he never would, cause Tom and I are so close, and I think we have good communication," Rodgers said. "I think there's a way of doing things when you have issues, and it's keeping it in-house.
"We talk about that with our group a lot, and Mike always talks about, usually on Mondays or Wednesdays, 'Here's some of the media topics (that we'll be asked).' It gives guys a chance, if there are any questions or anything we need to talk about, to get it out there.
"The great thing about our team is that we've always had really open lines of communication. You know, we've had a couple of guys over the years be those unnamed sources, but thankfully Mike and Ted have weeded those guys out. So we're not worried about these guys ripping on people and going out and doing things. Because if something happens like that, we address it directly.
"But yeah, I was baffled by that. And (if a coach did that to me), we'd have some problems."