If there was any creeping sense of concern surrounding the Green Bay Packers, it was lifted Sunday night when Aaron Rodgers orchestrated a 42-24 whipping of the previously undefeated Houston Texans.
That output quieted the critics, but not before CBS analyst Shannon Sharpe went to town on the Packers quarterback during the network's pregame show.
"I think they have some deeper issues, but let's get to the surface issues right now," Sharpe said on "The NFL Today," per Awful Announcing. "They can't run the football, so that puts a lot of pressure on Aaron Rodgers and that poor offensive line. Aaron Rodgers doesn't always do a great job of getting rid of the football on rhythm. So now he's taking some unnecessary sacks. But what I see is a lot of finger-pointing by Aaron Rodgers. I don't really know Aaron Rodgers, haven't been around him. But he strikes me as a guy that, it's always someone else's fault other than his own. I'm not so sure, I'm not so sure, that deep down inside, how well his receiving corps really likes Aaron Rodgers.
"I tell you what else, just because you're a great quarterback and an MVP quarterback that doesn't make you a great person. There is a difference between the two."
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Sharpe's critique of Rodgers doesn't come from time spent with the quarterback or his teammates. It was designed to generate reaction. Rodgers carefully shrugged off a chilly review from Brett Favre last season, and he has spent the better part of this year ignoring a handful of pundits questioning what's wrong with the Packers after last year's 15-1 romp through the regular season.
All of that was tolerated fodder, but Sharpe's words didn't sit well with Rodgers.
"I didn't hear some of it until after the game, to be honest with you," Rogers told Jason Wilde of ESPN Milwaukee, via SportsRadioInterviews.com. "In this country, I think freedom of speech is a very important part of our culture. That being said, anybody can have an opinion about anything regardless of how stupid it might be, or uninformed. There are often stories out there that have very little truth to them; that are based on feelings or images that you want to conjure up or situations that you think you understand when you really don't. I think more than anything this week, one reminder that (Packers head coach) Mike (McCarthy) and I talked about was just controlling the things that you can control. We've had a lot of adversity around here in my fifth year starting.
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"And I think that's one thing that sometimes is easy to forget, but it's a good reminder, that there's always going to be distractions and opinions and things going on that are outside of your control. In this case, there was.
Rodgers wasn't finished: "It's easy to criticize. Maybe some of these people have been waiting to criticize us after the success we've had, whether they have personal vendettas against myself, or Mike or our team. A team failing that is supposed to win is a lot easier of a story to write than a team that's supposed to win that is meeting expectations. Teams that aren't meeting expectations and teams that aren't playing as well as pundits have picked them to be, it's easier to jump on them. It's the easy road for those people, and they decide to jump on it."