ESPN’s Dianna Russini addressed the criticism she received from Aaron Rodgers on Wednesday, the same day the Packers quarterback confirmed his intentions to play for the Jets.
When discussing Rodgers’ appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show,” where he chastised her report about a Jets “wish list” of free agents from earlier in the week, Russini made it clear she presented the information as such and not as a list of “demands.”
“These were not demands,” Russini began on “SportsCenter.” “These were not demands from Aaron Rodgers and we never reported it that way, and we never even presented it that way. It was, ‘These are the players I want to join or I want to join me in New York. Here are guys I like.’”
Russini reported on Tuesday that the four-time MVP shared a “wish list” of players whom he would like the Jets to zone in on during NFL free agency.
Free-agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was reportedly on the list, in addition to former Packers receiver Allen Lazard, who has since agreed to a four-year, $44 million deal with the Jets.
Russini added Wednesday on “SportsCenter” that Lazard “is a player the Jets actually wanted to bring in,” and also “happens to be a player who Aaron Rodgers loves.”
Rodgers, 39, took aim at NFL insiders such as Russini on Wednesday when he discussed his football future on “The Pat McAfee Show.”
“How do you feel about the narrative that you have a laundry list before you can do anything?” McAfee asked Rodgers, who then responded, “It’s so ridiculous.”
“I didn’t respond to Dianna Russini, I think [that’s what] her name is,” Rodgers said, adding he’d tell her what he told her colleague, Adam Schefter: “Lose my number.”
Rodgers then shared his version of events.
“Now, did they [the Jets] ask me about certain guys I played with over the years? Of course. Did I talk glowingly about teammates that I love? Yeah, why wouldn’t you? Do I love those guys on the list? Of course. Did I make demands about certain people? People want these things to be so true,” he said.
Russini later detailed on “SportsCenter” how asking for player input can be part of the splashy free agency process.
“This is all normal,” she said. “If you’re recruiting a big-time quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, you’re going to allow him to make suggestions of players he wants to be with.”
As of Thursday, Rodgers remains on the Packers.
Green Bay, who is moving forward with Jordan Love at quarterback, is seeking a first-round pick and more for Rodgers, according to Pro Football Talk.
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