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'Jerry Krause' is a weak insult for Aaron Rodgers to lob in feud with Packers GM

·Columnist
·5 min read
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Aaron Rodgers has mockingly referred to Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst as “Jerry Krause” in group texts with teammates, according to The Athletic.

Krause was the general manager of the Chicago Bulls when they won six NBA titles in the 1990s. He famously clashed with Michael Jordan, who relentlessly mocked Krause and took particular issue with a comment by Krause: “players and coaches alone don’t win championships; organizations do.”

Rodgers, of course, is locked in a test of wills with Packers management over a lack of input in personnel decisions. The reigning NFL MVP is so upset that he has reportedly threatened to never play again for the team.

So Gutekunst is Krause, apparently.

Jerry Krause, left, general manager of the Chicago Bulls, is shown with Bulls legend Michael Jordan in this Sept. 20, 1988 photo after Jordan agreed to an eight-year contract extension. Krause, who built a team around Jordan that won six national titles, resigned Monday, April 7, 2003, citing health problems. (AP Photo/Mark Elias)
Jerry Krause, left, general manager of the Chicago Bulls, is shown with Bulls legend Michael Jordan in this Sept. 20, 1988 photo after Jordan agreed to an eight-year contract extension. Their relationship through the years got much frostier. (AP Photo/Mark Elias)

Beyond Rodgers' continued diva behavior, there are all sorts of issues with the insult.

Krause is hardly the incompetent villain Jordan painted him to be. There is the fact that football isn’t basketball, where the impact of a single star player is greater and, perhaps most notably, Rodgers, as good as he is, sure isn’t Michael Jordan.

Start with Krause, who Jordan, Scottie Pippen and coach Phil Jackson absolutely loved to make fun of and bully. In a continuous effort to find motivations and enemies (real or imagined), Jordan focused on the often awkward Krause as a target. Whatever. It worked and worked and worked.

Jordan was the most important factor in those Bulls championships. There is no denying that. Yet it is deliberately obtuse to think that organizations — including shrewd general managers — don’t also play a role in the success of any team.

The only two players who were on the Bulls' 1991 title team and their 1998 title team were Jordan and Pippen. The entire rest of the roster had to be overhauled, despite poor draft position, to create two separate three-peat runs.

Obviously MJ was the key, but on the fly Krause brought in key parts such Toni Kukoc (29th pick overall), and Dennis Rodman and Luc Longley (via trades) who weren’t obvious additions. He found ways to get younger with replacement — swapping John Paxson for Steve Kerr, for example — and created a situation for Jordan to shine.

Jordan deserves more credit than Krause, but to somehow invoke his name as some kind of front-office insult is ridiculous. Michael Jordan doesn’t get the final word on what’s good and what isn’t.

Besides, Krause’s statement about the importance of an “organization” is hardly inaccurate, especially in football. This isn’t basketball, where only five guys are on the court at a time — each playing both offense and defense — and where playoff rotations might go only nine deep. This is football, where you need all 48 on Sunday to win.

Rodgers knows this. Everyone knows this. Patrick Mahomes was running for his life in the Super Bowl. Tom Brady couldn’t win during his final season in New England. And just last year, Rodgers heaped praise on one of his NFC North rivals.

“You know, a guy that probably doesn’t get anywhere near the credit for doing [stuff] … he wears No. 9 and plays in Detroit,” Rogers said of then-Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford during an appearance on "The Pat McAfee Show." “That dude, what he does with the ball, is impressive. It’s really, really impressive.”

Stafford never won much of anything in Detroit — no division titles, no playoff games. He suffered through three consecutive rebuilds and a parade of new coaches and new general managers.

The Lions, of course, are the definition of a dysfunctional organization. Players — Stafford, Barry Sanders, Calvin Johnson — came and went and didn’t win, especially against a Green Bay franchise that has been well-run and capturing championships for decades.

Rodgers wasn’t making Jordan’s point by bringing up Krause, he was making Krause’s.

Mainly though, Rodgers is just Rodgers. He’s a heck of a quarterback and the most important Packer since taking over for Brett Favre in 2008. He isn’t Jordan though. He isn’t, at the same time, both the best offensive and defensive player in the league (you can’t be in football). He hasn’t won six titles. He hasn’t redefined the sport.

FILE - In this Nov. 15, 2015 file photo, Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers talks to Detroit Lions' Matthew Stafford after an NFL football game in Green Bay, Wis.  Rodgers has been struggling a bit this season while Stafford is in one of his best grooves. The quarterback  who plays best Thursday, Dec. 3 will likely help his team win at Ford Field. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
FILE - In this Nov. 15, 2015 file photo, Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers talks to Detroit Lions' Matthew Stafford after an NFL football game in Green Bay, Wis. Rodgers has been struggling a bit this season while Stafford is in one of his best grooves. The quarterback who plays best Thursday, Dec. 3 will likely help his team win at Ford Field. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

He’s an exceptional quarterback blessed to have had time to develop slowly and then get surrounded by excellent rosters by an exceptional organization. That includes the past two teams under Gutekunst’s leadership that each went 13-3 only to fall short in the NFC championship game.

Is Gutekunst perfect? Of course not. He shouldn’t have used a 2020 first-round draft pick on Rodgers' eventual replacement — Jordan Love. He should have communicated better with his temperamental, but very valuable, quarterback. But he isn’t some disaster of an executive.

Rodgers, meanwhile, is a huge part of the Packers' success. Bigger than any other one player. But he isn’t as big as Jordan was to the Bulls.

If he and Stafford had swapped franchises at the start of their careers, it’s likely it would have been Stafford trying to shine light on Rodgers, not the other way around.

Rodgers clearly has it out for Brian Gutekunst, maybe so much that he never returns to Green Bay. There is a lot of blame to go around.

If he wants to be petty in group texts though, he needs some new names to call the boss.

“Jerry Krause” just doesn’t make much sense.

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