By now you've probably heard the "story" (sarcastic quotation marks used because as the main subject of the story herself says, this is not actually a story) of Jan Cavanaugh. She's the Packers fan/cancer patient/autograph seeker allegedly snubbed by Aaron Rodgers as he walked to the team's Atlanta-bound plane last Friday. Now, all of the following are rational responses to the viral video that shows Rodgers walking past Cavanaugh without acknowledging her:
1) This is one 3 second video, we don't really know the context. Hard to judge Rodgers' entire character on this alone. Maybe he does other charity work and/or has given this woman an autograph before. (Both possibilities true)
2) Rodgers is wearing headphones, who knows what he was and was not aware of at that moment. (If you're Mike Florio, you speculate that Rodgers wore the headphones to make it easier to ignore cancer patients looking for autographs)
3) Players are not obligated to sign autographs for anyone and everyone at all times even if the autograph seek does have cancer and is a die hard fans of the player's employer. (Cavanaugh's own reaction, see below)
Of course, none of those angles appeal to sportswriters. #1 involves looking at all sides of an issue/situation, something 95% of sportswriters are too fucking stupid to do. #2 is too practical. #3 is too blindingly obvious and prevents sportswriters from being morally indignant about something that calls for no such perspective. So of course ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio (a breathtakingly useless writer employed by a breathtakingly useless site that we should write about far more often) took the easy way out.
Aaron Rodgers has a lot to learn about where his money comes from
Alternate title: Mike Florio has a lot to learn about how the business of professional sports works.
We realize that only two days ago we defended largely unlikable Bears quarterback Jay Cutler from a mailed-in attack by ESPN’s Rick Reilly.
The Rickster? Mailing in a column? Never. Also: anyone using the first person plural to talk about themselves deserves a square and vicious kick in the balls.
But since Reilly has yet to attack Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, we feel no need to defend him. (Yet.)
In fact, we feel the need to crucify him using shitty logic and pointless moral outrage.
Rodgers makes a lot of money because people are willing to pay to watch him do what he does, and because they’re willing to sit and watch him do it on television, while being bombarded with advertisements and networks promos.
True. Keep in mind that Rodgers does not make money because people think he's a swell guy. At least, not primarily. Of course being a non-asshole is good for a player's career, but before they can benefit from that kind of thing they have to be, uh, good at sports.
Without fans, football would be lacrosse. Or indoor soccer. Or postseason baseball.
Boom. Roasted. Take that, baseball. Your TV ratings for divisional round playoff games that start on weekday afternoons are not very good. That proves once and for all that football is better than you.
So football players need to be willing to pause and sign an autograph or two from time to time. Especially when the person seeking the autograph is female, is wearing copious amounts of NFL-licensed pink apparel, and has very short gray hair.
If players are going to stop and sign for anyone, I agree that cancer patients should be at the top of the list. Unfortunately, as previously stated (and as known by anyone with a brain since it's a really basic and obvious fact), athletes who are really awesome don't need to be willing to stop and sign for anyone. They don't. They don't owe it to anyone, they don't "need" to do it for anyone, and I think it's a stretch to say they "should" do it for anyone. The best way to put it is that they "can do so if they want." But you already knew that, because you have a brain.
Look- like any other fan, I want athletes to be nice. Especially the ones I cheer for. I can appreciate the occasional puff piece about one of them doing something really cool and charitable. But I'm not so much of an entitled prong as to think that any athlete owes fans anything. They owe their teammates, coaches, and management something. But they don't owe me shit. They don't work with me or for me. End of discussion. If you think otherwise I suggest you get your head out of your retum. When an athlete signs autographs, I say "Awesome! That guy rules!" When they refuse to, I shrug and feel neutral about it.
Hey, it’s a free country. Rodgers has an inalienable right to choose to behave like an ass.
Fuck the charity work the guy does, and all the other autographs he's ever signed in his life-including one for this very fan-this incident proves that Rodgers should be skewered by the media.
And the rest of us have an inalienable right to tell anyone who’ll listen that he’s behaving like an ass.
ExACTly. Good for you, Florio. This is a much easier way of generating pageviews than your normal method of making up trade/transaction rumors. Way to be the watchdog who makes sure no athlete gets away with snubbing an autograph seeker. AMERICA NEEDS TO KNOW WHEN THIS KIND OF THING HAPPENS. HOW ELSE WILL WE KNOW WHO TO HATE FOR NO GOOD REASON?
Rodgers needs to realize that without people like Jan Cavanaugh, whose passion for pro football prompted her to go to the airport after a radiation treatment in the hopes of getting Rodgers to sign the pink hat with the Packers logo that she always wears, make his entire lifestyle possible. Otherwise, he’d be no different than a guy who’s really good at throwing darts or horseshoes or cornhole bags. He’d derive personal satisfaction from the use of his God-given skills, but not much if any money.
And Florio needs to realize that people like Cavanaugh might be slightly disappointed if they don't get an autograph, but they will continue to watch NFL games on TV, attend them when possible, buy NFL merchandise, and generally structure their entire lives around the NFL. Like most others in the world, our country is sports-obsessed. Our star athletes can more or less do whatever they want off the field as long as they don't kill anyone.
Do I hope that every person who wants an autograph gets one, especially when the person is a cancer patient? Of course. I've also heard of a man named Barry Bonds, who was a shameless user of illegal drugs (and eventual cheater once baseball got around to officially banning those drugs) and a world class asshole who treated 90% of the people he ever met like complete trash. Barry made a kajillion dollars throughout the course of his career and to this day remains wildly popular with a large number of fans. Why? Because he was good at what he did. And throughout the course of the modern history of sports, there have been hundreds and hundreds of Bondses. Rodgers isn't the Bonds of quarterbacking in terms of skill level, of course, but he's not a long ways off. And that's why is doesn't fucking matter whether he signs autographs or not.
We hope this strikes a chord with all pro athletes. The fans are the reason you get paid the big bucks. And it would be wise to show some gratitude, especially when it’s obvious that one of those fans isn’t blessed with good health.
Now I'm starting to think Florio himself was snubbed by a player at some point and is still carrying a grudge about it.
We also hope that Rodgers and/or the Packers track down Jan Cavanaugh and make it up to her. The fact that Rodgers would crap on a rare moment of happiness for someone whose entire life in consumed by fighting the disease and contending with the physical, mental, and emotional effects of it should make the stomach churn of anyone who has cancer, or who has seen a loved one stricken by it.
Jan Cavanaugh, what say you about this whole deal? (From the news link at the top of the post)
"I am very unhappy with people making so much out of this, because this really isn't that big of a deal. It's up to the players to decide who they want to give an autograph to, and that's their prerogative."
Three cheers for you, lady. You just made me hate the Packers a little less.