Our best stuff from the month: What will happen with Aaron Rodgers?
Plus, Devin Singletary is a new running back, the inside story on the Bears' QB hunt and Lynn Bowden Jr. opens up on what went down in Las Vegas.
Happy Memorial Day Weekend, everyone! Hope you’re all able to throw some burgers and hot dogs on the grill and drink a beer or five wherever you are.
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I figured we’d share some of our most-read stories from this past month right here if you’re looking to do a little Memorial Day reading.
There’s never a lull in pro football… especially this offseason. Just click each headline below to catch up.
It’s as true now as it was on May 7 when we posted this story. The thinking here is that Aaron Rodgers is not going to change his mind. The Green Bay Packers’ quarterback is dug in. So when June 1 hits — and the cap hit is manageable — the Packers should absolutely go on the offensive by trading the league MVP, accepting their horde of picks and players from Denver, Vegas, whoever, and then the team should throw it’s support behind 2020 first-rounder Jordan Love.
The future is not nearly as apocalyptic as many may believe.
We spoke to those who know Love best to figure out how he’s dealing with this drama and what kind of quarterback he can be in the NFL.
Also, you’ll get the inside story on how things went south between the Packers and Rodgers. (Those Jerry Krause texts will seem like child’s play the longer the franchise lets this charade continue.)
“I know he’s excited to play in a game. He definitely has that, ‘I want to show the Packers why they picked me so high.’ He has that chip on his shoulder. That’s what drives him to keep him working extremely hard out here with me. And he is looking forward to that opportunity.” — Steve Calhoun, the private QB coach to Jordan Love
This is, no doubt, the No. 1 storyline of the NFL offseason so we’ll try to cover it from every angle possible. A few more stories at Go Long on the Rodgers/Packers stalemate…
Why this is all dangerous territory for head coach Matt LaFleur. Every player is listening carefully to what he has to say through OTAs and minicamp. This moment will absolutely define LaFleur in Green Bay.
Hall-of-Famer Ron Wolf breaks down why a starting quarterback “can’t be in a better place” than Green Bay. This standoff absolutely has origins in Wolf’s arrival and the birth of The Packer Way so we talk to the man himself. He isn’t shy.
“Now, I’m not really sure what the deal is with Rodgers — what is upsetting him. In my opinion, you can’t be in a better place. Everything there is geared toward the player. Everything they do is about the player. That’s the greatness of that franchise. To me, that’s why it’s been so successful. It’s about playing football. That’s all. It’s not about any other thing. It’s not about going to some owner’s wife’s tea party. This affair or that affair. It’s about playing football and being a professional football player. That’s all it is. That’s really the greatness of the Packers.” — Ron Wolf
Subscribers can weigh in on all things Packers/Rodgers/Love right here in the weekly discussion thread.
Love’s private QB coach, Calhoun, chatted with subscribers for the full hour on this recent Zoom Happy Hour. Arguably nobody in the game knows Love better as a player and as a person than Calhoun, who’s been a mentor since Love’s freshman year of high school.
Former NFL GM Doug Whaley, who was up for the Packers’ job a few years ago, weighed in on this recent episode of the Go Long Podcast. His question is simple: What is Rodgers' afraid of?
And when the bombshell first dropped, we wrote this column detailing why it’s time for the Packers to do the previously unthinkable and trade the 2020 NFL MVP.
We all know it’s been a wild NFL offseason at the quarterback position. But what has really gone down behind the scenes? What does it look like? The Bears’ pursuit of a new franchise quarterback perfectly encapsulates the craziness. From Day 1, GM Ryan Pace made it clear they needed to find a new quarterback. Everyone’s jobs depended on it.
So what happened next? They swung for the fences, from Deshaun Watson to Ben Roethlisberger to Russell Wilson.
Chicago thought it’d land Wilson, too.
Also, did you know Aaron Rodgers was letting opposing players know of his plans last season? And that Wilson’s desire to be a NFL owner one day is a reason he wants out of Seattle?
All of this and more in the story. The signing of Andy Dalton was strategic in the Bears moving up to take Justin Fields, too.
“Imagine doing that when all you have is Nick Foles — you’re in trouble. They could say to teams, ‘We’ve already committed to Dalton as a starter so what you’re asking for is too rich. We can’t do it.’ Where before, if it’s Nick Foles, it’s ‘Bro, I’m going to take you for f------ everything you’ve got. We all know you’re not going into the year with that because you’ll get fired by Week 3.’ It’s just reality.”
— One league source on the Bears
Like so many other Western New Yorkers, I’ve always been fascinated by the career of Rob Johnson and all of the magnificent “What-ifs.” Two decades ago, he was handpicked as the franchise QB.
Then, an epic quarterback controversy broke out. Here, you were either a Flutie guy or a Johnson guy. There was no in-between.
In our conversation, Johnson is incredibly candid on everything from the bad blood between him and Flutie, the “Music City Miracle,” all of the concussions he suffered in Buffalo and his father’s current battle with Alzheimer’s.
The friction between Johnson and Flutie was as real as you imagine. He regrets one of his jokes.
“One thing that got Doug pissed, in the beginning, was that my stats were better than his. But he won more than me. So he’d say I held onto the ball too long — so I wouldn’t get incompletions and my stats would be better. I’m like, OK, take three to five incompletions of throwing it away… that was not the reason. That really bugged me. So, I confronted him on that. And then he said if he was in the playoff game we would’ve won. And I said, “Yeah, if you were on special teams, you could’ve made the tackle.” Just shit like that. — Rob Johnson
Sometimes, the player who can elevate you to a Super Bowl title is already in-house.
That’s the case in Buffalo where nobody’s going to recognize running back Devin Singletary when he’s back in town. Singletary spoke at length about his intense offseason down at PER4ORM in South Florida and what truly motivates him off the field. From friends who lost NFL careers to friends who lost their lives, the man known as “Motor” sure brings a unique perspective to the Bills’ backfield.
He’ll make everyone forget that drop in the AFC Championship very soon.
“Of course, as a running back, you kind of want to get in a rhythm. But some games it was easy, some games it was harder to do that. My thing was — my mindset always was — I’m staying ready. When the opportunity presents itself, I’m going to be ready for the opportunity. When you got that mindset, there’s nothing else that can knock you off your pivot. That’s the mindset to have.
“When you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.
“Big things are coming. That’s been my mindset.”
— Devin Singletary
The Las Vegas Raiders did not care to get to know Lynn Bowden Jr. as a player or as a person… so Bowden finally tells his side of the story.
It’s not pretty and it’s easy to see why the Gruden/Mayock Era has gone so terribly.
Now, in Miami, Bowden is ready to make the Raiders regret shipping him off before even seeing him play one down of football.
“I just sit back and smile when I think of football and what it’s going to be next year. People don’t even know.”
Back in Shreveport, La., he outran bullets. On the football field, he leaves cornerbacks in the dust.
We spend time with a deep threat everyone will know very soon, Houston’s Marquez Stevenson.
This speed is the product of much more than anyone knows.
Now, Stevenson will go deep on one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses, the Bills.
“You had to pick a side. I chose this side. But I lost friends to gun violence, to jail cells, all that type of stuff. So me seeing that type of stuff going on, I didn’t want to be the next person to go that route. It made me concentrate on football that much harder.”
Life after football is always difficult. We’ve chatted with the likes of Darren Woodson and Donte Whitner and Ryan Leaf all about trying to find a purpose when the cheering stops. (Leaf, especially, didn’t hold back a couple months ago. It was an emotional chat.)
Yet how tough is it when that cheering stops after one season? After a neck injury forces you to retire? Former Packers running back Johnathan Franklin saw his career blow up in smoke just like that. It wasn’t easy but — as he explained on the Happy Hour with subscribers — Franklin found a way.
And, of course, the Go Long Podcast is open to all wherever you get your podcasts. Former Buffalo Bills director of personnel, Jim Monos, and myself try to share an unfiltered story you have not heard before.
Sponsored by Hamburg Brewing Company, this pod is always fueled by a few IPAs, too.
This past month, we had future Hall-of-Famer Jahri Evans on to talk all things Saints, Packers, Jameis ‘n Rodgers.