Aaron Rodgers said he found an inner peace during his four-day darkness retreat last week with whatever his football future holds, but he did not reveal what that decision is — or even whether he has made one.
But the Green Bay Packers quarterback, during a one-hour and 41-minute interview on the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” released Wednesday, promised it won’t take much longer to decide.
“It’s best for anybody who has an interest to make a decision sooner rather than later,” Rodgers said.
A day earlier, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said at the NFL scouting combine that there has been little or no conversation with Rodgers since they wrapped up their end-of-season meetings in mid-January. Gutekunst said he hoped for a decision before free agency begins in less than two weeks.
“I feel really good about the conversations that are going to be had, that have been had with important people in my life, yourself included, that helped orient me,” Rodgers told Marcus. “But I’m not looking for somebody to tell me what the answer is. All the answers are right inside me, and I touched on many of them — and definitely the feelings on both sides — during the darkness, and I’m thankful for that time. There’s a finality to the decision, and I don’t make it lightly.
“I don’t want to drag anybody around. Look, I’m answering questions about it because they asked about it. I’m talking about it because it’s important to me. If you don’t like it, if you think it’s drama, you think I’m being a diva or whatever, just tune it out. That’s fine. But this is my life, it’s important to me, and I’ll make a decision soon enough and then we’ll go down that road and be really excited about it.”
It appears both Rodgers and the Packers are still considering three options: a return to the Packers, a trade to another team or retirement.
Gutekunst, however, has been sounding less committed to wanting Rodgers back. He said Tuesday that he needed to have additional conversations with Rodgers before a path forward could be forged.
“He’s a great player, but until we have those conversations, I think all options are on the table right now,” Gutekunst said Tuesday. “But we really need to have those conversations. We want what’s best for the Green Bay Packers, what’s best for Aaron. So, we’ll get to that once those conversations happen.”
“I don’t want to drag anybody around. … But this is my life, it’s important to me and I’ll make a decision soon enough and then we’ll go down that road and be really excited about it.”
Rodgers said his perspective on the decision changed during his retreat, which took place in a remote portion of southern Oregon. He said he initially felt as if there was “one scary option and one unknown.”
“The scary was retirement, and the unknown was going back and playing and what does that mean?” Rodgers said. “Is that Green Bay or somewhere else? If that’s somewhere else, what is it like being somewhere else?
“Now it feels like there are two very beautiful options that both feel really nourishing and special.”
Rodgers took issue with those who question his methods, whether it’s his sometimes controversial appearances on “The Pat McAfee Show” or his practice of ayahuasca and taking a darkness retreat.
He admitted last offseason that he contemplated retirement before he made his decision to return on March 8. Shortly after, he signed a three-year, $150 million contract extension that would pay him nearly $60 million guaranteed if he played in 2023.
In the Marcus podcast, he admitted that before winning back-to-back MVPs for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, he wondered whether he was still at the top of his game.
“I didn’t have my best year playing [in 2019], and there’s probably people that think I’m done,” Rodgers said. “I thought I was done before I became COVID MVP twice. So again, there’ll be plenty of inspiration down that road, but I have a great peace about it that I did not have without the darkness, so I’m really thankful for that experience, and the stuff I worked through, it’s all connected.”