What happened to Aaron Rodgers? And four more Tuesday sports … – Star Tribune

Those who read this space regularly might not believe it, but I used to like Aaron Rodgers.
It was more, even, than a respect for his ability — though it certainly was that, too, as he ascended into being a star and constantly shredded Vikings defenses.
He seemed like a genuinely funny and quirky person, qualities that spilled onto the field with a sort of carefree confidence that made him fun to watch.
It is interesting to think about that version of Rodgers now that the worst-kept secret in football is on the verge of being official. With the veteran QB headed to the Jets for what essentially amounts to a first- and second-round pick, it’s a fair time to wonder: How did we get to this point in the first place?
The answer, as always, is never one thing. But these moments were key ingredients, as I talked about on Tuesday’s Daily Delivery podcast.

*Change in leadership at the top: The Packers promoted Brian Gutekunst to GM early in 2018 and fired Mike McCarthy late in 2018. While those changes were almost certainly good for the late stage of Rodgers’ career — he won back-to-back MVPs in 2020 and 2021 — he made clear last month with Pat McAfee that he felt more of a kinship with the old Ted Thompson regime.
*Drafting Jordan Love: This goes hand-in-hand with the regime change, but it’s clear even three years later that Rodgers was hurt by the decision to draft his heir apparent, Jordan Love, in the first round of the 2020 draft.
As Rodgers felt more disconnected, his personality seemed to change. His demeanor on the field changed. He turned inward and disappeared into his own … head. His response to COVID and his vaccination/immunization status didn’t help my perception of him, but it was more than that. He tried too hard to find attention.
Ultimately, Rodgers’ trade to the Jets is as much a business decision as anything else. He’ll turn 40 this season and the Packers need to see if Love can play. They extracted plenty of draft value from the Jets — far more than the third-round pick Green Bay got for Brett Favre when this whole cycle first played out 15 years ago.
I think Rodgers can still play at a very high level. What I’m more interested in seeing is if changing his environment will help Rodgers shed some of this baggage he’s accumulated in recent years — or if this is just who Rodgers is now.
Here are four other things you need to know today:
*Pablo Lopez and Joe Ryan are the future of the Twins rotation, along perhaps with Bailey Ober. But their best starter in the moment is Sonny Gray. He’s pitched five times this season and hasn’t given up more than one run in any start — including a seven-inning, no-run gem in Monday’s win over the Yankees. When your ERA (0.62) starts with a decimal point, you’re doing a lot of things right.
*This John Hollinger piece summarizing the impending changes to the collective bargaining agreement in the NBA is very interesting. It might give midmarket teams like the Timberwolves a better chance to compete in future years.
*We’ve gone from is Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker a reach for the Vikings at No. 23 to questioning whether he will be available at No. 23. In a recent piece, ESPN’s Todd McShay said he thinks Hooker will get picked in the top 20.
*At least Hooker, to my knowledge, has never eaten a banana with the peel still on it. The same cannot be said for Kentucky QB Will Levis.

Michael Rand is the Star Tribune’s Digital Sports Senior Writer. In 20 years covering Minnesota sports at the Star Tribune, he has seen just about everything.
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