The Green Bay Packers raised a lot of eyebrows when they traded up four spots in the first round of April's NFL draft to select Utah State quarterback Jordan Love.
Since then, many have speculated about the degree of frustration bristly Lambeau legend Aaron Rodgers has about the pick. Refurbished were the memories of the two-time NFL MVP's 2005 entrance into the league, having also been unexpectedly drafted to sit behind fellow Green Bay great Brett Favre. Rodgers appeared in just seven games in his first three seasons before taking the reins from the future Hall of Famer.
All the masses had to go off to gauge Rodgers' reaction was an Instagram post one week after the draft channeling his "R-E-L-A-X" days. The image featured the 36-year-old sitting on top of a mountain giving the shaka hand sign with a caption that included "#chillvibes" and "#relax."
The waiting and speculation came to an end Friday when Rodgers addressed the situation publicly for the first time in a conference call with reporters.
"The general reaction at first was surprise, like many people," Rodgers said of the Packers selecting his likely successor. "I'm not going to say I was thrilled by the pick, necessarily. But I understand. The organization is thinking not only about the present, but the future and I respect that. I understand their focus and their mind-set. Obviously they thought he was such a great talent they needed to go up and get him."
Favre didn't go out of his way to help groom Rodgers in his formative years. However, Rodgers says he's willing to pay it forward and help Love acclimate to the NFL as best he can.
"He didn't get asked to be drafted by the Packers," Rodgers said of Love. "He's not to blame at all. He's just coming in excited about his opportunity. We had a great conversation the day after the draft. I'm excited to work with him. He seems like a really good kid with a good head on his shoulders.
"I've always had great relationships with my backups and always loved helping those guys out in any way," Rodgers said. "The more questions they have, the more answers I have. I've really truly embraced those relationships, and it'll be the same with Jordan."
Favre said days after the draft that Green Bay's decision to draft a quarterback in the first round instead of a much-needed weapon in the form of a receiver, tight end or running back created a significant rift between the organization and their franchise signal-caller.
"I think they've burned a bridge that's going to be hard to overcome," Favre said. "At some point, it will rear its ugly head."
Favre also said he believes Rodgers will finish his career with another team.
"I think he'll play someplace else," Favre said. "I think Aaron will finish somewhere else, that's my gut [instinct] . . . I guarantee you it has the wheels turning in Aaron's mind. If that's the case, there's a chip on his shoulder toward the organization that was otherwise not there."
History shows that most legendary quarterbacks don't spend their whole career with one team. Rodgers said that, as someone who wants to play into his 40s, he understands that reality and the Love selection reinforced that.
"It was more the surprise of the pick based on my own feelings of wanting to play into my 40s and then really the realization that it does change the controllables a little bit because as much as I feel confident in my abilities and what I can accomplish and what we can accomplish, there are some new factors that are out of my control," Rodgers said. "So my sincere desire to start and finish with the same organization, just as it has with many other players over the years, may not be a reality at this point."
Andrew Brandt, who spent 10 years as the Packers' vice president and helped negotiate Rodgers's rookie contract, said drafting Love put a shelf life on the eight-time Pro Bowler's remaining time in Green Bay.
"Aaron would like to play several more years for the Packers but the Love pick ended that wish," Brandt tweeted Friday. "Not ideal but reality; there will be a parting. The only question is when."
This article was written by Jake Russell, a reporter for The Washington Post.