Aaron Rodgers on Simone Biles, “The Office” and his Easter Eggs press conference

Aaron Rodgers and I were talking about Office, because of course we were. It went viral last week after showing up to training camp in a shirt with a NBA Jam– graphic style by Kevin Malone and Chili. Everything Rodgers did that week was considered some sort of hieroglyphic to decipher, given his uncertain relationship and future with the Packers. Turns out the shirt was the first he saw in his room when he arrived after a late flight from California. He said he was jet lagged and had thought about wearing the shirt: “This is going to be awesome. “And he was glad there were pictures. The sunglasses were from his former teammate AJ Hawk.” They’re like a throwback to ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage. ”

“Zero thought beyond that,” he said, laughing at the hubbub. “It was 4 am California time and there wasn’t a lot of brain function for me.”

The interview was a follow-up to a conversation we had during the last training camp the media were able to attend in 2019, when Rodgers detailed his favorite pop culture tunes, especially the recent conclusion The iron Throne. He is among the best interviews in all sports. We’ve talked in the past about everything from Hail Marys to league changes, but damn anyone can do it. Very few athletes can talk about The Hateful Eight as well as Rodgers, who won the league MVP title last year.

In 2019, he was disappointed with the final of Thrones and was looking for new shows. In the void, he found two he liked: After life, a Ricky Gervais show he’s obsessed with (he called season 2 “phenomenal”), and Easttown mare, because he found Kate Winslet’s acting brilliant. He is also interested in offbeat comedy, from Norm MacDonald to Documentary now!– so I was interested to know if he ever tried to channel that into his press conferences. In short, does he ever do a little?

The answer is, well, sort of. He played a game he doesn’t tell people about: Last season, a friend of Rodgers had a mission for him. “He said I had to say ‘desert rose’ in a response. So it was hard. It was really hard, “he explained. As I left the interview, I searched on Google if he was successful. And yes, it was there, in the Associated Press, Athleticism, and many more: “I think the Zoom meetings during the offseason were definitely my desert rose.” This, of course, makes no sense. And Rodgers love this challenge.

“One of my most difficult jobs in these situations,” Rodgers told me, “is trying to keep a straight face when I say a word or phrase that doesn’t seem to fit my answer, the context. or even the question anyone asked.

A press conference, he said, “is a performance in a way, because you put on a show for a lot of people watching it, holding onto your answers. It is not much different in approaching a practice. I like to be prepared. He explained that Tom Fanning, deputy director of the Packers’ communications department, keeps him up to date on the news, which he then thinks about, but not too hard. “I never want to predetermine the answers and I really don’t mean clichés. I just like to speak from the bottom of my heart, and it has always served me well.

There were no clichés, of course, at Rodgers’ opening press conference last week, a dazzling and brutal assessment of his future and his role in the organization. He announced that he had considered retiring, openly questioned his future with the organization, and expressed grievances over management’s decision to let a number of veterans go, between others. Rodgers did not show up for offseason activities and signed an amended contract which several reports have come with an agreement to review his situation after this year. Since this press conference, things have been rather calm in Green Bay; there is no ambiguity now that Rodgers has laid it bare. The day I was in training, Rodgers threw a 40-yard dart into a small net, which elicited roars from a training camp crowd and Rodgers flexed his biceps in celebration. Second-year quarterback Jordan Love met the media on Thursday and said his relationship with Rodgers is excellent. The Packers have spent the offseason at the center of the footballing world and have spent the past week in pretty much normalcy. Rodgers reads again The alchemist by Paulo Coelho, whom he calls a “camp tradition”.

Unlike our last talk on Thrones, Rodgers is back in the franchise and excited about the looming spinoffs. “I was disappointed with the last episode,” he said. “I had the impression that there were a lot of people. And Bran the Builder, in my opinion, shouldn’t have been the winner. Just because he never wanted to. He called himself the Three-Eyed Raven all the time. But I am excited about the fallout. You know, you never know what the show is going to become. Because I mean, 10 years ago no one really knew who Kit Harington or Emilia Clarke was. And now they’re huge stars, and they should be, because they’re phenomenal actors.

He mentioned that he’s mostly watching the Olympics at the moment, which brought us to Mike Tirico’s interview with Simone Biles. He praised Tirico, saying far too many athlete interviews are simply the interviewer “focused on the questions they want to ask instead of what the respondent is answering”. Then he wanted to talk about the larger issue under consideration.

“I give Simone so much credit for her ability to speak the truth, her truth and answer tough questions, and for having the courage to say, ‘I’m scared’ and ‘I don’t think I should be. out there, ”Rodgers said. “She is the greatest gymnast of all time. And mental health [awareness] is an issue that continues to break down the stigmas that don’t allow us to talk about it or only allow us to talk about it in a super negative, depressive, suicidal way. People of all ages and professions face mental health challenges, especially during COVID. Have you seen the suicide hotline? [calls] climbing. We have seen so many different statistics on mental health.

“It’s something we should be talking about and ways to help people get through it, whether it’s techniques or therapies or just conversations letting people know they’re not. alone. And that’s what Simone did. I am very, very proud of her. I’ve gotten to know her a bit over the years. And I think what she did, then the way she behaved, encouraging her teammates, was really special to watch in a tough situation for her. And I give him immense respect. ”

What can you do to keep this conversation going?

“Well, we should keep talking about it,” Rodgers told me. “Keep talking about the ways we individually deal with stress and anxiety, pressure and depression or loneliness. I think that would really help. Because we, like it or not, have a platform to influence people. And our words are often heard more than the person who is not so much in the public eye. So we have an opportunity – not an obligation, an opportunity – to maybe share some of our own ways of doing things and break some of the stigma around mental health. “

I asked him if his situation over the past few months had dictated his viewing habits. For example, when he’s the most talked about guy in sports, does he want to watch something to distract him? He said if the day has been “long” it usually means he’ll light up a Will Ferrell or Ben Stiller movie, but usually he reads books and watches any golf he can find at. television. (We’re both golf junkies, and I’ll spare you snippets of that conversation, except to say that we both seemed to be enjoying the US Senior Women’s Open won by Annika Sorenstam.)

As for Danger!, the show he hosted in April, Rodgers said he tries not to be influenced by other guest hosts so he doesn’t want to watch. This meant he didn’t see much of Ken Jennings, who was the host before him. “I know [Ken] did a good job. Saw a few other hosts. And you know, I know how the show goes, and how Mike [Richards] does it as an executive producer, and Clay, the director, they edited the episodes and they make you look good. So I could tell even from my time when the line was a pickup and when it was actually in the moment. And that’s the beauty of the show, ”he said. “They are doing a really good job of helping the host and the players.” (Richards is widely seen as being in negotiations for hosting work.)

Rodgers’ tongue-in-cheek humor was in the spotlight during his time as host, something he says started with British humor. “I first started Office watch the british Desk. I’m a huge Ricky Gervais fan, ”Rodgers said. “[In the American version,] Steve really stepped into the role and Rainn’s personality came out and John’s personality – I just loved the character arcs of all the people in the episodes. You know, Jenna is obviously a phenomenal actress. The connection between Jenna and John on screen is fantastic, and Ryan and Kelly, I love that everyone kind of has their own stories, even for Creed Bratton, you know, being a full time extra. Phyllis [in casting] getting a full time role was pretty cool to see.

“But I think what I love the most about it is that this show, unfortunately, would probably be canceled in today’s culture. Because everyone is always looking to undo something for some reason. It’s not precious humor, it’s a bit like British humor. And British humor is not precious, you know. They jokingly talk about topics using comedy to shed light on things that maybe can offend people too much. Or maybe topics that [we] need more conversation around. I think that’s it Office do. It’s made us look within ourselves and relate to certain characters, and maybe be the best version of that character that we see within ourselves. I really like it on the show.

Why would it be “canceled”?

“Everyone wants something to be offended,” he said. “People now have a voice with social media. There is a level of misery in people’s lives, and instead of working on themselves and trying to improve themselves, it’s almost more fun for them to feel better about themselves by canceling someone. one another and tearing down someone else instead of building more connection and love in this world. I think unfortunately this is a path that too many people take.

Rodgers, of course, like his favorite comedy show, has his own office politics these days. He’s just trying to find his desert rose.

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