I'll let my buddy take it from here. All u idiots talking about technicality open up for some crow too. See if Espn gets pressured not to..
— Aaron Rodgers (@AaronRodgers12) February 23, 2012
Friday will provide a litmus test for quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
That's the day the Green Bay Packers hold their first training camp practice of the 2013 season, and the next opportunity for Rodgers to meet the media.
As you'd expect, there will be no shortage of questions about Rodgers' friend and business associate Ryan Braun, the recently suspended outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Rodgers was outspoken in his defense of Braun in 2012 through his public social media account on Twitter, going so far as to call out those who criticized the baseball player as "all u idiots."
Of course, there was also the highly-publicized incident in which Rodgers also said he'd bet his next year's salary that Braun didn't use performance enhancing drugs.
It's for these actions and these condescending words that Rodgers should publicly apologize when the media comes to meet him at his locker on Friday.
Let's be clear. Rodgers doesn't need to beg pardon for defending his friend. Nearly any person would do the same. Likewise, where his relationship goes with Braun from here is immaterial.
It's Rodgers' insultive language he should have to answer for. Conduct unbecoming of the face of the franchise, if you will.
This also isn't to insinuate that some big "to do" is necessary. A brief and polite "I'm sorry" will suffice.
The chip on Rodgers' shoulder is well documented, perhaps over documented. From his draft-day slide to years of riding the pine behind Brett Favre to every perceived slight from the media along the way, Rodgers has used it as motivation.
It's starting to be taken to the extreme, however. His criticism of CBS's 60 Minutes last year was unjustified, and he shouldn't get away with thumbing his nose at Braun's critics either.
This is one of very few instances in which Rodgers was in the wrong, and there's no reason to think it will become a regular occurrence.
If he were to humbly atone for his words, the opinion of Rodgers will only rise higher amongst his fans. Conversely, failure to do so will only help to build some sort of holier-than-thou or snob-like reputation.
In a day and age when the character of NFL players is under more scrutiny than ever before, Rodgers would be setting an example for his teammates and football players everywhere by making amends for what is, in reality, a minor infraction.
But when you're Aaron Rodgers, even the most minor of slip-ups becomes national storyline. Fair or not, ESPN and other outlets were quick to pick up year-old tweets of Rodgers naïvely defending Braun this week.
It's not easy to take the high road. But the older you get and the more you mature, the easier it is to do.
This is the road Rodgers has in front of him this week, and a true litmus test of his leadership.
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].
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