I heard about this story a couple of days ago and I’m surprised it’s actually gained traction. I stumbled upon a blog with a post entitled something like, “Aaron Rodgers Ignores Cancer Patient.” Of course I had to check it out, and after reading it and seeing the video clip (embedded here), the title was a prime example of tabloid drek.
Upon arriving at the airport following the Packers’ 48-21 Wild Card-round win at Atlanta, Rodgers apparently walked by Jan Cavanaugh, a breast cancer survivor. Cavanaugh, clad in pink, with pen and paper in hand, didn’t get the autograph from Rodgers that she came for. Nor did Rodgers even seem to acknowledge her. Television station WBAY was there with cameras to document her endeavors.
Mike Florio, editor at ProFootballtalk.com—the site recently became an affiliate of NBC and Florio appeared during Sunday Night Football telecasts—jumped on the opportunity to blast Rodgers for his utter disregard for the people that help pay his salary; specifically a passionate longtime Packers fan who has survived cancer. Although the title of Florio’s article wasn’t quite as trashy as the one I referenced above, I can’t say the same about the content of the piece.
While Florio must believe he has video evidence of Rodgers snubbing Cavanaugh, in reality the video gives us about three seconds of footage of Rodgers walking by the woman, but doesn’t tell us for sure whether he purposely ignored her or was simply oblivious.
Maybe Rodgers did see her and pretended not to. Maybe he was on the phone (as the earpiece might suggest) and didn’t notice. I have no idea. And while I’ll admit Rodgers doesn’t exactly come off looking good here, for Florio to insinuate that Rodgers doesn’t care about a fan who has gone through a great struggle in her life is a dangerous assumption.
Whether Florio intended it or not, some people will read his article and come to the conclusion that Rodgers is a soulless piece of shit. And in this age where word
travels tweets to millions at the click of a mouse, an unnecessary firestorm is created.
I realize players have been cast in a negative light in the media for years, but if you want to judge Rodgers as someone who doesn’t care about a fan who has survived cancer I’ll need to see more than a few seconds of video of Rodgers strolling past this woman.
Florio’s article has been blasted by bloggers everywhere from Yahoo! to yours truly. And as if that’s not enough, Cavanaugh herself said, “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.”
This is certainly not the first time an autograph seeker has been snubbed. And I’d even venture to say that it’s not the first time a cancer survivor has been snubbed, as harsh as that may be. I feel badly for Cavanaugh; she deserved better. But for Mike Florio to get atop his soapbox and take this opportunity to stir the pot with Aaron Rodgers is unfortunate.
If every article was written based on three seconds of video, we’d have even less truth in the media than we do now. For a guy whom I’ve seen reporting “news” on NBC’s Sunday Night Football coverage all season, I assumed Florio was better than this. My mistake.