GREEN BAY, Wis. — Packers coach Mike McCarthy called it “ignorant.” Quarterback Aaron Rodgers said it was “silly.” But tight end Jermichael Finley, whose agent, Blake Baratz, recently made negative statements about Rodgers’ leadership abilities, had no issue with it.
“I wasn’t upset at all,” Finley said at his locker Thursday. “He (Baratz) has his own opinion, at the end of the day. (I wasn’t) necessarily upset. I just wanted to see, why did he do it?”
This week, Finley got caught in the middle of the firestorm created by a series of tweets from Baratz. Baratz posted via Twitter that Rodgers “is a great QB (but) isn’t a great leader.” Baratz added that “leaders take the blame & make everyone better. He (Rodgers) doesn’t.”
Finley chose not to comment about the situation Tuesday but was surrounded by a group of reporters following Thursday’s practice. Finley was asked six consecutive questions about Baratz’s statements before a member of the Packers public relations staff cut off the interview.
When asked how much of Baratz’s opinion was influenced by conversations he had with Finley, the 25-year-old tight end replied, “I’d say zero percent of it.”
Finley, who’s typically one of the most outspoken players in the Packers’ locker room, was in a difficult position. He had to stick up for Rodgers, his teammate and quarterback, which he did. Finley also could have taken the opportunity in front of the media to berate his agent but chose not to.
“He’s got his own opinion,” Finley said. “He’s an agent. He has tons of clients around the league. It’s not my problem what he sends out. I could (not) care less what Blake does as long as he takes care of my business at the end of the day.”
Finley disputed the notion suggested by Baratz that Rodgers isn’t a good leader.
“He’s the leader of this team,” Finley said. “He’s the man. I respect him as a player. Outside of the locker room, I’m a fan of Aaron Rodgers. We’re all good.”
Rodgers, at the start of his weekly interview session, was asked repeatedly about the fallout from the comments Baratz posted on Twitter.
“It’s silly,” Rodgers said. “I think I made it a point most of my career not to comment on people’s opinions outside of the facility. It’s the same thing if someone down at the Five Guys Burger said something about me because he didn’t like the way I was tipping and accused me of something.
“It’s just people who aren’t in the locker room making comments. There’s no point in having a reaction to it. I don’t have a reaction to it. It’s not an issue.”
Rodgers and Finley both insisted the comments have not harmed their relationship.
“It’s not even something that I feel like I needed to have a sit down conversation with Jermichael about, because it didn’t come from him,” Rodgers said. “It’s not something that’s an issue. And honestly, it’s something I’m very comfortable with, my leadership style, and I feel like the guys in the locker room are, as well. It’s not something we’re going to spend any time thinking about.
“I don’t really have anything to say other than that.”
When McCarthy was asked about it, he initially did not know about the incident. But after clarification, it was clear that McCarthy had heard about what Baratz wrote.
“I don’t really get involved with ignorant comments on social media,” McCarthy said. “That is not a locker room issue, in my view. We spend a lot of time talking about the culture, and more importantly, what goes on with the health in our locker room. I feel strongly that we have a very healthy locker room. So that’s something that hasn’t been discussed.”
Earlier this week, wide receiver James Jones — whom Rodgers was very upset with on the field following an interception in Week 2 — stuck up for his quarterback.
“For people to question his leadership is ridiculous,” Jones said. “He’s a natural-born leader, not just by what he says but how he carries himself, how he plays the game, how he handles certain situations. Everybody in this locker room looks up to him as a leader. Everybody in this locker room believes in him.”
In an interview with ESPN Radio’s “Hill and Schlereth” show Wednesday, Baratz acknowledged his tweets created a negative situation for his client, Finley, who signed a two-year contract extension with the Packers this past offseason.
“For better or worse, I may say things that are controversial or things that I’m thinking,” Baratz said. “Brutal honesty is probably my biggest strength and my biggest weakness, and it drew the ire of certain people. My biggest regret is Jermichael had absolutely nothing to do with this. I’ve tweeted a lot about — or made comments about — teams or players that, they’re not the opinions of anybody else but myself.
“I felt bad for Jermichael because people weren’t talking about other Packers that I work with. Everybody talked about Jermichael because he’s an offensive skill-position player that catches the ball from Aaron, and it’s so far from anything that Jermichael’s ever told me. That was what I felt bad about.”