Packers don't let Twitter feud simmer
If the Green Bay Packers are destined to endure a controversy that will threaten their esprit de corps in Super Bowl XLV, Photogate 2011 apparently will not be it.
That Twitter-generated flap last week about the 16 Green Bay players on injured reserve being excluded from the Packers’ official Super Bowl team photo? It’s history, the team says.
“It’s resolved,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Monday night after the NFC champions arrived in Dallas-Fort Worth in anticipation of Sunday’s Super Bowl challenge against the Pittsburgh Steelers (FOX pregame at 2 p.m. ET, kickoff at 6:29 p.m. ET). “That’s the only comment I have. It’s not an issue. I never felt it was.”
Well . . . yes, it was. In a Super Bowl bye week, the hype machine means anything can blow up into a full-scale fracas.
Let’s review: Thanks to NFL players’ ongoing fascination with revealing all through Twitter, two Green Bay players rehabbing injuries while on IR — middle linebacker Nick Barnett and tight end Jermichael Finley — voiced their displeasure on Twitter about the Packers’ initial decision to include only players on the active roster in the team photo taken last week.
It’s the kind of team-related issue that likely would have remained internal if not for social media announcing this dustup to the world.
The Packers relented and said injured players would be included. Too late. The Twitter trashing continued. Rodgers found himself embroiled in the mess when he noted that several of the IR players chose not to remain in Green Bay to rehabilitate their injuries.
“I was on IR back in 2006,” Rodgers said last week. “I chose to stick around and finish out the season with my guys and be here every game. Some of those guys didn’t. And so, we love them, we care about them, we don’t wish injury on anybody, but this is a group of guys that’s really come together and has been great to work with. It’s been great to work with guys we brought in. Some of the guys who were injured, you know, they are still part of this team, but some of them didn’t choose to stick around.”
A barrage of Twitter messages continued. Barnett shot back at his quarterback on the web, then reconsidered and tried to make nice. On Sunday, Rodgers finally took to an old-fashioned method of communication — an actual telephone that would transmit his voice — and called Barnett to settle the matter.
“I initiated the conversation,” Rodgers said. “We ironed things out. I didn’t think there needed to be an apology on either side.”
The Steelers, meanwhile, had been monitoring the social media landscape.
“I can tell u this much-us @steelers would never be tweeting jabs at each other . . . over a team picture issue especially LOL,” Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley tweeted Sunday.
With the Packers safely tucked in their hotel after arriving in North Texas ahead of Tuesday’s treacherous ice/sleet/snow storm pounding the area, players expressed dismay that the Photogate affair had blown up on the Internet.
Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Woodson, the team’s veteran Buddha who often speaks up to quell Packers concerns about anything, said he didn’t feel the need to speak up in this case.
“I didn’t have to say anything. I know a lot of people saw it as a distraction, but it was just an issue that we had to deal with,” Woodson said. “We care about our teammates. It’s unfortunate that it had to happen. It’s unfortunate that it had to get into the media, but we dealt with it. That’s that. We’re focused on winning this game. That’s it.”
As for the perils of social media, Woodson — who had just enjoyed a viewing of “Social Network” on the Packers’ team flight from Green Bay to Dallas — conceded he’s not a fan of players taking to the World Wide Web with their squabbles.
“Social network — I’m not a fan of Twitter and all of that stuff, but a lot of people are,” Woodson said with a laugh. “It got out, but regardless of it getting out or not getting out it was an issue we had to deal with and we dealt with it.