NFL

Aaron Rodgers considered retirement but 'the fire still burns'

By Sports Desk July 28, 2021

Aaron Rodgers considered retirement during his stand-off with the Green Bay Packers but said the "fire still burns" to play in the NFL.

Rodgers reported to training camp on Tuesday and was on the field for practice on Wednesday having brought his self-imposed exile to a close.

A report before the start of the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft in April revealed Rodgers had informed some within the Packers organisation of his desire not to return to the team.

However, the two sides found common ground and came to an agreement to ensure Rodgers will play for the Packers in 2021.

Speaking at a media conference, Rodgers revealed the saga stretched back to conversations he had with the franchise in February following the Packers' second successive NFC Championship Game loss in which he stated his desire to be involved in conversations about playing personnel.

There had been talk of Rodgers calling time on his NFL career and the reigning league MVP revealed that thought had crossed his mind.

Rodgers said: "It's [retirement] definitely something I thought about. I talked about how important being a full-timer was for a long time, this was the first time to spend the offseason away without a Covid year or a lockout year, and I enjoyed it, I really did.

"I took time working on myself and trying to better myself in a number of areas where I feel like I can improve based on my own patterns and conditioning and it was a lot of growth in that process by continuing to find joy and happiness in things off the field.

"However, there's still a big competitive hole in my body that I need to fill and, as I got back into my workouts, I just realised that I know I can still play and I want to still play and as long as I feel like I can give 100 per cent to the team then I should still play.

"I was really working on myself and my own mental state throughout the summer and at various points deciding if I wanted to even keep playing but the fire still burns and I wanted to be on a football team and we got some things figured out in the last few days and I'm here."

One move the Packers have made to seemingly satiate Rodgers is to bring back receiver Randall Cobb in a trade with the Houston Texans. Rodgers spoke of his excitement at the return of Cobb, who racked up 5,524 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns in eight seasons with Green Bay between 2011 and 2018.

And on a reported "list of concessions" made by Green Bay is the Packers' agreement "to review Rodgers' situation at the end of this season".

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported "the biggest concession" was "the freedom to decide where he wants to play in 2022".

But Rodgers said it is not his understanding he can choose where he wants to play next offseason and refused to make any declarative statements about being with the Packers past 2021.

He added: "I'm just going to focus on this year, there's a lot of moving pieces besides myself, expiring contracts for a number of guys, there's going to be a lot of tough decisions at the end of the year.

"I'm just going to enjoy this year and then revisit that conversation at the end of the season."

On the possibility of finishing his Hall of Fame career with the Packers, Rodgers said: "I'm definitely not closing the door on anything. I'm always optimistic in the ability to change. I'd never want anyone to give up on me."

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