Optimistic Packers fans have been invoking the name of “Kuuuuhhhhhhn” Thursday.
While most revelations in the reported rift between the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers have pointed toward an inevitable split, former Packers running back John Kuhn offered a more optimistic take on the Zach Gelb Show on CBS Sports Radio.
“I really don’t think it’s beyond repair,” Kuhn said Wednesday. “I know speculation is running wild right now with all the possibilities of what could have been, what possibly can still be. But until I hear that the Green Bay Packers are listening to what the value is of Aaron Rodgers on the trade market, I do not see him going anywhere.”
Kuhn, who played on Green Bay’s Super Bowl champion team in 2010 and now hosts “Nine 2 Noon” on 97.3 The Game, a sports talk radio station in Milwaukee, said he has, indeed, spoken to the quarterback in the past week.
“I will say he’s conflicted because this man loves to play the game of football, this man loves to be a Green Bay Packer,” Kuhn said. “He’s watched friends leave. He’s watched Brett Favre’s career toward the end. He’s watched all these things play out in front of his eyes. He’s taken notes throughout his entire career. He’s seen some situations that didn’t feel were done or finished the way that they could or should have, and he’s just trying to take his own destiny within his own hands.
“To that effect, I actually admire him, because not many players within the NFL have that opportunity. I sure as heck didn’t. I played until everybody told me, ‘You can’t play anymore,’ and it’s a humbling feeling. Aaron Rodgers has an opportunity to take a little bit of that power back.”
But as for a relationship beyond repair, Kuhn said “absolutely not,” noting he still believes there’s an opportunity for resolution. When asked what percentage likelihood he put on Rodgers back with the Packers in 2021, he estimated somewhere between 70% and 75%.
“It’s going to take two men that are dug in right now and trying to meet in the middle somewhere where they’re both happy,” Kuhn said referring to Rodgers and Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst.
A Yahoo! Sports report over the weekend indicated that one of Rodgers’ primary asks was Gutenkunst’s firing. Gutekunst told reporters that he had not heard that request made directly from Rodgers, and Kuhn said he doubted that edict was something Rodgers would have tried to hand down.
“I really don’t think Aaron is that cynical of a person,” Kuhn said. “No matter what differences they have, I go back to the Mike McCarthy era. There was differences in philosophies there. That came to a point where the differences in philosophies started playing itself out on the field. That’s why Mike ended up being the one that got canned and is down in Dallas now. That wasn’t necessarily Aaron doing anything to Mike McCarthy, because there were differences in philosophies played out long before that point in time. He’s proven to the Packers brass ... just because he has differences with the head coach or general manager or anybody else, it doesn’t necessarily affect his play or professionalism.”
Then, there’s this last bit of optimism.
“Ultimately at the end of the day, I truly believe Aaron wants to come back to Green Bay, but he doesn’t want to do it on a lame-duck contract,” Kuhn said. “Even though there’s three years on his contract, if you really look at the terms of it, it pretty much sets up for a clean break at the end of the 2021 season for the Packers (and) himself, considering that Jordan Love is on a rookie salary. I think he wants more insurance that he’s going to be a long-term starting quarterback option for the Green Bay Packers, and that I believe is something that would intrigue him into making amends with the team and come back this season.
“I believe he thinks that right now is his best chance, at the age of 37, to try and ensure that his career in Green Bay does get to 40,” Kuhn said. He’s said multiple times on several different outlets that he plans to play into his 40s and he really wants to do it in Green Bay. I don’t see that feeling from him having changed, and I believe that’s still the main goal of him, and sometimes it takes drastic measures to get to those spots.”
Former Packers receiver James Jones, himself a recipient of more than 350 receptions in a Green Bay uniform — many thrown by Rodgers — offered similar sentiments of optimism on the NFL Network on Thursday.
“It’s not about getting the GM fired, it’s not about a new contract, it’s all about making sure that you’re putting the team in the best situation to win some championships,” Jones said.
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