The Packers’ official position was that quarterback Aaron Rodgers would have no input in the search for a new coach. Unofficially, well, did anyone really believe that the Packers would hire a coach without getting the approval of their $33.5 million face of the franchise?
During Wednesday’s introductory press conference, new Packers coach Matt LaFleur admitted he got a phone call from Rodgers before LaFleur received a job offer.
“That’s kind of how I had an idea that maybe I was in the running for it,” LaFleur told reporters, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com.
“The conversation went great,” LaFleur said. “I can tell he’s a passionate guy, and he wants to win. And I think that holds true for me as well. So I think we’re in alignment there because, like I said before, this game is about winning. I know that he wants to add to his legacy, and the only way we’re going to accomplish that is to win a world championship.”
Coincidentally (or not), the call from Rodgers was followed shortly thereafter by a call from Packers CEO Mark Murphy and G.M. Brian Gutekunst offering the job. LaFleur was riding in a car, his wife driving.
“I thought we were going to get in a car accident,” LaFleur said. “She was at the wheel. It was incredible. When I tell you I was speechless, I was speechless because there’s just so much tradition here, and I can’t think of a greater place to be a head coach in this league, and really in all of sports. This is a dream come true for me.”
The dream came true partially because of Rodgers. Beyond from the obvious dot-connecting between the two phone calls, league insiders and observers strongly believe that LaFleur became the guy because he’s the guy Rodgers ultimately wanted. And LaFleur is the guy who will let the player in whom the Packers have invested so much money run the offense the way he wants, like Peyton Manning did, especially during his time in Denver.
It worked for Manning, by the way. The notion of Rodgers having more control has developed a negative connotation because the Packers have resisted it. Maybe they should just embrace it, because it will now be part of the team’s reality for as long as Rodgers remains on the roster.