Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (who is an avid Minnesota Vikings fan by the way), is generally very levelheaded when it comes to his reporting of the National Football League, avoiding the annoying and insipid Monday Morning quarterbacking that has plagued the writing about the league for the decades. That's how he got his gig for NBC Sports, and why he's become a fixture of their Sunday Night Football coverage.
This makes his latest piece all the more surprising, and disappointing. In it, he (again, a Vikings fan) goes after the hottest player in all of football, Green Bay Packers quarterback (and former Cal great) Aaron Rodgers. Not for anything he did on the field. No, Rodgers had the gall to "ignore" taking an autograph from a fan who happened to be a recovering cancer patient.
So, let's watch the "incriminating" video, this second of video that allowed Florio to denigrate the character of one of the supposed classiest guys in football.
Watch Rodgers breeze by Jan Cavanaugh, refusing even to acknowledge her existence.
Okay, it looks tough on first viewing. Upon second and third viewing though? Not so bad. Rodgers is wearing headphones, so he's probably not in a signing mood.
But more importantly, Cavanaugh is not in Rodgers's immediate vision--when you're wearing headphones, it's really hard to focus on anything in your periphery. She seems to step pretty tentatively toward Rodgers, and Rodgers probably didn't know who was approaching him, so he stepped toward the side. Additionally, Rodgers could have noticed the video camera, and didn't want to deal with what could've been a possible interview.
This is the common-sensical deduction. Not good enough for Florio though.
(The good news is that linebacker Clay Matthews treated her with warmth and respect.)
Yes, Matthews did treat her with warmth and respect. That's because Matthews is approaching her directly as opposed to Cavanaugh approaching Rodgers. You know why Matthews approached her directly? The stewardess on the flight told him about her.
Again, Matthews tells Cavanaugh the stewardess told him, not the team. Again, hard to see where Rodgers is at fault here. Even if the announcement was team-wide, he might have been wearing his headphones (you know, the ones he was wearing when he walked past Cavanaugh) through the entire flight and ignored the initial announcement. Totally normal.
And let's suppose that out of the corner of his eye, Rodgers did happen to see this person. Was Rodgers consulted that this was a cancer patient? It's never made clear in advance; to him it might just be another Packers fan, or just some random denzien trying to catch a flight. Not to be mean to Cavanaugh (who is an innocent party in this silly story), but it's not like she was standing right in front of him.
Let's also examine this paragraph of condescending tripe.
Rodgers needs to realize that without people like Jan Cavanaugh, whose passion for pro football prompted her to go to the airport after a radiation treatment in the hopes of getting Rodgers to sign the pink hat with the Packers logo that she always wears, make his entire lifestyle possible.
Sure, Florio, you arbitrer of truthtiness. Ignore the fact Rodgers has teamed up with the MACC Fund to sign helmets and equipment for children stricken with cancer. Ignore the many stories from Packers fans of Rodgers touching the lives of their kids. Or the fact Rodgers doesn't draw attention to himself when doing things for kids.
No, in Mike Florio's world, CLEARLY it makes more sense that Rodgers is just an evil super villain that stomps on the dreams of his suffering and devoted fans. That is the story that needs to be reported, because people need to be torn down the moment they've been vaulted up. Maybe Florio should look in his backyard at the Packer quarterback he just picked up for an example of that narcissistic arrogance.
Florio needs to be called out for this nonsense, and if this speculative tabloid is found to be not what it seems, he should be sued for libel. What makes this all the more galling was how brazenly Florio cut into Rick Reilly's equally insipid piece about Jay Cutler only two days earlier. Reilly basically criticized Cutler for not showing off and not being a self-aggrandizing figure, and Florio let him have it.
Barely 48 hours later, he turns the smug on Rodgers ... for not being open enough with his fans and drawing attention to himself on video. How fitting. The hyprocisy is fit enough for a Viking to eat.
Oh, and one more thing.
Shortly after this very public back and forth I heard quite reliably that Aaron Rodgers spoke to and signed an autograph for Jan Cavanaugh just last week before the Packers' Wild Card game victory over Philadelphia. It turns out Ms. Cavanaugh is a regular at the airport when the Packers travel and can often be found trying to get players to sign things for her.
Owned. Don't let the facts hit you on your way to finding another quarterback, Sir Florio. Or maybe another offseason with the upstanding citizenship of Brett Favre is what you really need.