Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said NFL owners shouldn’t be able to create new rules during the offseason—such as the national anthem protest guidelines that have since been put on hold—”without ratifying it through the players.”
On Wednesday, Kevin Clark of The Ringer provided comments from Rodgers about what he’d change if he replaced Roger Goodell as NFL commissioner for a day. Unresolved issues regarding the anthem would be near the top of the list:
“If you’re going to take the focus off of what the protest was really about—it was never about the anthem; it was never about the troops; it was about social equality and racial injustice—then make it all about the anthem. Everybody in the stadium stands and does the exact same thing. You have people in the concession, people in the bathroom; you’ve got cameramen on their knee watching. You can’t have it one way or another.”
Rodgers, 34, also wants to overhaul the way contracts are handled. He’d prefer to eliminate the franchise tag—which allows teams to keep a player for an additional season when his contract runs out—and create a soft salary cap with a luxury tax like the NBA rather than keep the current hard cap.
“I would allow teams to go over the cap knowing if they do, since there’s not a hard cap, they are going to be faced with some luxury-tax issues and they’d change their strategy,” he said. “It’s not like we’re hurting—just like the NBA, we’re not hurting for revenue. We’re doing excellent in the NFL, and the NBA is doing fantastic as well.”
Those comments take on extra meaning for Rodgers, who seeking a contract extension from the Packers despite having two years left on his deal.
The current system means Green Bay has five seasons of potential control since it could franchise-tag him up to three times after his contract runs out. That gives one of the league’s top players limited leverage in discussions.
Rodgers’ other ideas include limiting the preseason to three games, cutting down the number of mandatory practices for veterans in the offseason, giving more freedom for touchdown celebrations and doing more to highlight players’ off-field community contributions.
He’s also not sure whether the new targeting rule, which has its roots in the college game, can be fairly enforced since it’s “98 percent subjective.”
“A safety going to make a big hit and picking a target in the midsection—the [receiver] catches the ball and lowers his head—it goes from a legal hit to more of an almost helmet-to-helmet or maybe the shoulder to the helmet. You can get kicked out of the game for that,” Rodgers told Clark. “I think it’s a harsh penalty, and I understand the intent of the rule; that’s good. The enforcement lacks a little bit of oversight.”
Hypothetical commissioner duties complete, Rodgers and the Packers kick off the preseason Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans.