The real story behind the Aaron Rodgers autograph non-story


By Steve Hayes.

Yesterday, Mike Florio at NBC’s launched an “attack” – his word – on Aaron Rodgers for a video showing the Packers’ quarterback walking past Jan Cavanaugh, an autograph-seeker who is recovering from cancer. Florio headlined his post, “Aaron Rodgers has a lot to learn about where his money comes from,” called Rodgers “an ass” who is guilty of “treating a cancer patient like a panhandler with leprosy” and took a “crap on a rare moment of happiness” in Cavanaugh’s life. No one has ever accused Florio of being too restrained.

From the video posted at WBAY, we thought that Rodgers probably should have taken the time to stop and sign Cavanaugh’s pink hat. But we also recognized that short video clips rarely – if ever – tell the entire story. And unlike Florio, we believe that context matters. So we sent ProFootballTalk several news stories about Rodgers’ community work, including two stories (here and here) about his work with children suffering from cancer. Florio not only refused to share the information with his readers, he sent a tweet acknowledging that he’d seen such contextual information and that it didn’t matter to him.

So, unlike Florio, who is paid by NBC, we actually did some reporting. Packergeeks reached out to Jan Cavanaugh for a comment. And, as you can see in her response below, she was unaware of the controversy until we notified her.

In her response, Cavanaugh confirms something first reported by Aaron Nagler at “In all fairness to Aaron, he had signed my jersey the week before.” Cavanaugh says that she wishes professional athletes would take more time to sign autographs, particularly when only a few autograph-seekers are present. But, in what seems to be a shot at Florio, she says she doesn’t “want people making more out of this than there is.”

Her email is below:

Dear Steve,
Thank you so much for “tracking me down”.  I had no idea this hubbub was going on and it is very embarrassing to me.  We are big Packer fans and do not want anything to interfere with the Packs game with the Bears next weekend.

We love having Packer parties when they play, have a Packer Christmas tree that we set up every Christmas, Packer clothing, etc., etc.

Aaron did sign a jersey for me the night they came home from playing the Eagles.  But my sister-in-law (a Viking fan) had given me a pink Packers cap when I lost my hair and I wanted Aaron to sign it.  Didn’t get that accomplished, but in all fairness to Aaron he had signed my jersey the week before.

There were only a few of us at the airport the times we’ve been up there in the last month.  It is sometimes hard to understand why the players can’t take a few minutes and sign things when there are so few people asking for autographs.  I can understand not wanting to be held up after a game and an airplane ride if there are lots of people that want you to sign something. However, that hasn’t been the case up to now.

Again, I’m embarrassed and I’m sure it’s embarrassing to Aaron who quietly has done so much for the community with so many groups.  I know that none of us wanted to make so much out of it.  Yes, I’ve had cancer, yes I don’t have hair right now, but I am fine and will be fine and don’t want people making more out of this than there is.

Thanks Steve for letting me know what was happening.  I’m not good on the computer and would never have found out if you hadn’t let me know.


Packergeeks wishes Jan a full and speedy recovery. We won’t hold our breath that these facts will change Florio’s opinion.


6 Responses to “The real story behind the Aaron Rodgers autograph non-story”

  1. Travis Says:

    Florio as always, an ass.

    I found it hard to believe Rodgers would just ignore someone so rudely and arrogantly like it was perceived. I figure he was talking to someone (and apparently he actually had head phones in).

    They got lives too, and they shouldn’t need to be signing autographs every minute of their day. They sign plenty, but they got others things to do. They’re normal people living in within the eyes of millions. It can’t be easy, because sometimes I’m sure they just want that space.

    I knew something would come from the information. It wasn’t like Rodgers for that to be true.

    And it’s good to see Clay tend to her.

  2. PackerBelle Says:

    Thanks for looking into this. It is good to know the whole story.

    I understand her point of view, but I tend to think that if someone has already signed something for you, you should be happy with that. I agree with Travis that these guys have lives. And after playing a game on the road, knowing you only have a couple of days before you have to leave for another road game, I’d just want to get out of there too.

    Kudos to CM3 for signing her jersey and to Mrs. Cavanaugh for not only being a staunch Packer fan but also being willing to set the record straight.

  3. Tangysizzl Says:

    PFT, tabloid journalism at its finest….

  4. DaveK Says:

    Thank you so much PackerGeeks for getting in contact with Mrs. Cavanaugh and getting more details for Packer fans. Awesome job!

    Would it have been nice for him to give her another autograph? Yes. Is he required to stop for every fan that wants an autograph? No. Should he have said, “not today” or “sorry, next time” as he walked by? Sure, but it does look like in the video he was engaged in a conversation as he was walking through the airport. I’m not sure fans realize how smothering fans can be to players. To function they do have tune us out at times. Is Rodgers an arrogant dick? I don’t know. Is Rodgers a nice guy that missed an opportunity to make someone happy? I don’t know. You can’t take a moment in time and try to make a judgement on a person and that is exactly what PFT has done in order to make news. Florio isn’t interested in the full story or context or developing a full understanding of a person. He wants controversy and he wants page hits.

  5. apackerbacker Says:

    Thanks for doing what Florio summarily failed to do: Actual research.

  6. chispacita Says:

    Thanks for this.

    Does Jan know that she even made the New York Times with the “story”?

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