GREEN BAY – The tone of Blake Baratz’s voice said it all, from the first sentence he uttered Wednesday night.
Appearing on ESPN Radio’s Hill & Schlereth to explain his recent comments on Twitter about Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ leadership abilities, Baratz was greeted by host Mike Hill’s first question out of the chute: What made him decide to Tweet what he did about Rodgers not being a great leader like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees?
“Well, one, thanks for having me on. It’s been a terrific day so far,” Baratz said with a sigh and a forced chuckle.
From there, Baratz went on to tell his side of the story on the Tweet heard ‘round the Packers World, on his client Jermichael Finley’s relationship with the NFL MVP and the firestorm his comments generated. While Baratz never backed off or apologized for his original statement about Rodgers not being a great leader, he made it clear that he felt bad about the hubbub he caused.
“In all seriousness there really was no ulterior motive or agenda. I was literally just voicing an (opinion),” Baratz explained. “The original comment that I sent out – whether I should’ve or should not have can be debated and will be debated – but the response I got was, ‘Why isn’t Aaron Rodgers on that list?’ And I replied to that, and I shouldn’t have. I made a mistake, and I’ll take full responsibility and I’ll be accountable for that just because of what surrounded it and not so much what was actually written. I could really care less. Who really cares what someone’s agent thinks about a player?
“But I do have a lot of respect for the Packers and Ted (Thompson) and Russ (Ball) and Rob (Davis) and Eliot (Wolf) and the people I’ve dealt with over the years. I apologize to Jermichael and Aaron because I know in a day-to-day life, being burdened with unwarranted distractions is not fun. So for that, and for what it’s turned into, I apologize.”
Other things Baratz said:
> On Finley’s role in what he said about Rodgers:“For better or worse, I may say things that are controversial or things that I’m thinking. Brutal honesty is probably my biggest strength and my biggest weakness and it drew the ire of certain people. My biggest regret is Jermichael had absolutely nothing to do with this. I’ve Tweeted a lot about or made comments about teams or players that, they’re not the opinions of anybody else but myself. I apologized to my staff today at my company, because the opinions I express are a reflection of everybody. And they had nothing todo with it either. I felt bad for Jermichael because people weren’t talking about other Packers that I work with. Everybody talked about Jermichael because he’s an offensive skill-position player that catches the ball from Aaron and it’s so far from anything that Jermichael’s ever told me that that was what I felt bad about.”
> In response to Mark Schlereth saying he’d have fired his agent for creating such a distraction in the locker room: “We’re fine. Jermichael and my relationship, it would take hours and hours and hours to go through what we’ve been through and what our relationship is predicated on and what my relationship with most of my clients and their families are predicated on. Otherwise we would have fired each other multiple times over the past three, four years.”
> On Finley’s relationship with Rodgers: “The reality is, Jermichael never said anything. And Aaron knows that. And they have a good relationship. And the team understands that. It was never an issue that Aaron was going to think that Jermichael all of a sudden thinks he’s a bad leader or wasn’t a good teammate. It was more about the stuff like this – the public outcry and backlash and him being dragged into it by other people. Not necessarily the Packers or Aaron Rodgers.”
> On understanding why people took his comment about Rodgers as coming from Finley’s experience with the quarterback: “I can absolutely understand how people would gather that. … I’m fully going to take responsibility for what I said and I can understand why people would think that. But for me – and it’s not an excuse, it’s not a defense – I haven’t gotten any sort of backlash, feedback. No one really listens to what I say. … I guess I just never, I hadn’t thought about the magnitude of a comment like that would bring. And that’s on me, and I take full responsibility for that.”
> On if this might affect future dealings with the Packers:“Honestly, I really don’t think so at all. I’ve worked with those guys for years, we’re close, they know who I really am. … I’m very close with those guys. They know what my true colors are. They know deep down what I’ve done to help certain players in their locker room, helped to make their jobs easier. So no, I don’t think so. There’s a mutual respect. The average fan out there, and probably yourselves, that don’t know me, you’re making judgments and basing it off of that. For that, I think that’s fair. But they’re not. … If I had no relationship with (the Packers), and on top of that they had to deal with this, that’s a completely different story.”
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