PFT’s Mike Florio (sort of) apologizes to Aaron Rodgers

It took a few days, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk has finally apologized to Aaron Rodgers for his knee-jerk reaction to video of Rodgers walking by a cancer patient who was looking to get her hat signed.

When I saw the video for the first time, I cringed. Many of you did the same. But then I did what we bloggers (or whatever we are) all too often do — I fired off a rebuke of Rodgers without considering anything else about the other things he has done, both publicly and privately, over the years.

Gregg Doyel of CBS has provided an excellent look at Rodgers’ good deeds, including his work for Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer. You should read Gregg’s article. It’s an eye opener. And I commend Rodgers for his efforts. In many respects, he has shown his appreciation of and concern for the citizens of Green Bay and Wisconsin. If Packers fans hadn’t previously embraced him like they’d embraced Brett Favre, their reaction to the criticism of Rodgers from me and others shows that they now have.

I apologize to Rodgers for painting him with an unjustifiably broad brush based on a very brief slice of his life. It was wrong to jump to conclusions about whether he treats fans properly, and whether he understands the connection between the fans who support him and the money he makes. Though some have argued that true character is revealed in those fleeting moments, the whole truth about a man falls somewhere between his best days and his worst days. For Rodgers, there’s no reason to believe that the truth isn’t a lot closer to the best than the worst.

It sounds like Doyel’s article is what turned Florio around, although Rodgers’ charity work was brought to his attention prior to his second scathing post and he dismissed it saying that what people do when the cameras aren’t around is a reflection of their true character.

Well, there was a camera there and that may have been the reason Rodgers didn’t want to stop, fearing he might get roped into an interview. Or maybe he just zoned out listening to his favorite song while getting ready to fly to Atlanta for the biggest game of his life to that point. Athletes are human and sometimes they just need time to themselves.

I don’t particularly like the way that Florio begins with “we bloggers,” implying that he’s only guilty of what we’re all guilty of…even though we’re not all guilty of skewering a man’s character over two seconds of video with no knowledge or research into the person’s backstory. He also admits that he’s mainly apologizing to make himself feel better, and later implies in the final paragraph that others are still in the wrong (presumably Rodgers), but hey, at least he apologized. Sort of.

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Aaron Rodgers walks past a cancer patient; Mike Florio gets on his soapbox

There’s video on YouTube of a WBAY (Green Bay) report that shows Aaron Rodgers walking past a cancer patient at the Green Bay airport as the Packers left for Atlanta. The woman, Jan Cavanaugh, wanted Rodgers to sign her hat. He didn’t, and Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio took the opportunity to criticize him for it.

It doesn’t matter whether it was Rodgers or any other player. Whoever walked by Jan Cavanaugh like she wasn’t even there was going to get reamed on the pages of PFT, because I believe that cancer patients deserve the highest level of respect and deference that can be provided.

Anyone whose life has been touched by the disease knows what I mean. We all can see in Jan Cavanaugh the mother or sister or aunt or friend or neighbor who has had to confront a silent killer that could kill — and, frankly, eventually will kill — many of the people reading these words. (For those of you who make it to 45 without getting cancer, that’s probably about the time you’ll start worrying from time to time about all the different organs in your body, and your spouse’s body, that eventually could be infested with it.)

No arguments here. Florio lists a few things that no one will have the gall to disagree with so that he can earn a few supporters.

So what of the follow-up report from WBAY, which likely has spent much of the past 24 hours apologizing to angry viewers for depicting Rodgers in a negative light and simultaneously applying lips to the buttocks of anyone and everyone in the Packers organization, that Rodgers signed a jersey the week before for Cavanaugh? Apparently, some of you think that makes his decision to walk past her without a nod or a smile or anything else fine and dandy.

I don’t.

If anything, this familiarity tends to reinforce the notion that Rodgers knew or should have known that Cavanaugh has cancer, making his failure to offer a friendly nod or a wave or a quick “not today, maybe next time” while she waited for him to sign her hat even more strange.

I don’t know if Florio has a team of CIA-caliber video technicians over at PFT, but the way the footage was shot it was impossible for me to see if Rodgers nodded or smiled at the woman, so I’m not sure how Florio can definitively say that he didn’t. Rodgers certainly didn’t stop to say anything to her, but he was on his way to Atlanta to play in the biggest game of his life, so it’s safe to say that he had other things on his mind. And there was a television camera there so it’s possible that Rodgers didn’t want to stop and get roped into doing an interview with WBAY when he’s supposed to be getting on the team plane.

Florio glosses over the fact that the woman has stated that she’s bothered by the criticism that he’s receiving and acknowledged that she and her husband have multiple items signed by the quarterback. In fact, she has an autographed jersey that he signed just a week ago.

This brings up a good question: Just how much interaction should a professional athlete have with fans — or better yet, the same fan — over a period of time? Whether or not Florio wants to believe it, it is possible that Rodgers met the woman without the topic of cancer coming up. She was wearing pink, but she could simply be a supporter of breast cancer awareness. Does that mean Rodgers has to stop or pause to greet the woman every time he runs into her at the airport? Florio acts as if Rodgers is supposed to remember the personal history of every fan he signs for and at the same time learn the ins and outs of the Atlanta Falcons’ pass defense. That’s a lot to ask of a man, even one as talented as Rodgers.

Oh, by the way, according to the New York Times, Mike Florio is a longtime Minnesota Vikings fan.

Just sayin’.

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