A few years ago when Aaron Rodgers was still dating actor Olivia Munn, he stole the show on the Oscars red carpet by photobombing Common during a live television interview. The decision by Rodgers to make himself conspicuous amongst a sea of A-list actors, musicians, and general celebrities provided an insight into his desire to be noticed then and his actions since suggest things haven't changed much.
Which is why I was surprised to hear Rodgers say on the Pat McAfee Show yesterday that he isn't interested in doing NFL media post-retirement. His reasoning, which you'll see in the quote momentarily, made sense. The idea of Rodgers trading in his life of celebrity for the anonymity of high school coaching does not.
"“Well, I’ve given a lot to this game. I’ve been playing since I was in eighth grade. I’ve been playing 16 years and I just feel like when I’m done I want to be done. I think it’d be fun to help out an age group that I feel like is real impressionable still, like high school kids. I think being able to volunteer, help, or just help with some quarterback stuff I think would be fun. Just because I love the game so much I don’t want to totally get out of it, but as far as the pro level, I don’t see myself doing anything with it.""- Aaron Rodgers
It was a candid answer from Rodgers. His deadpan demeanor suggests this isn't a question he was surprised to be asked and had thoroughly thought out his response. Here's video of the answer.
While Rodgers wanting to help out with young players makes sense considering his charity work and past interactions with children in Green Bay, walking away from his biggest connection and opportunity to retain fame does not. Like it or not, Rodgers will always be best known for his NFL career and that is what most people will want to discuss with him after his career is complete. Coaching high school will be a fun one-off story for the likes of ESPN, but after the cameras leave, they won't come back unless Rodgers has something interesting to say about the NFL, past present or future.
That's what happened with his former teammate Brett Favre, who lost his spot as Levi's top commercial ambassador to Drew Brees after retirement and started his own podcast this year to make himself relevant again. It's why Peyton Manning breaks down player performances for ESPN+ and why Michael Strahan does FOX pregame and why Tony Romo is an analyst for CBS. They all want to stay in the limelight and the way to do that is discuss the sport that made them famous. If there's one thing we know Rodgers likes, it's the limelight.
Beyond his relationships with celebrities like Munn and Danica Patrick, Rodgers also attends award shows and seems to relish the spotlight (RE: Common photo bomb). He's never shied away from on-field postgame interviews and, let us not forget, he's making weekly appearances on McAfee's show this season. And of course, there's his discount double-check commercial success with State Farm. How long will that last after he's retired from the NFL, especially with Patrick Mahomes joining that team recently?
This could be Rodgers' honest feeling now and it could change when he actually does retire. Or maybe he spends a few years away from the NFL and comes back. Or perhaps he finds another path toward fame that has nothing to do with the NFL, like acting or advocacy, which has been done by the likes of NFL greats Jim Brown and O.J. Simpson (pre-murder), but isn't common among Hall-of-Fame players, which Rodgers unquestionably is.
Regardless of the path Rodgers chooses, his actions both recent and historical suggests he enjoys the spotlight. While there are opportunities for him to remain there without the NFL, the odds of success are lower and require a specific skillset we have yet to see from Rodgers. I'll take Rodgers at his word that when he's says he's done with the NFL, he's done. But ultimately I think he'll come back once the spotlight moves away from him.