Aaron Rodgers and James Harden are two of the biggest stars in their respective sports. However, one NFL agent thinks the kind of player empowerment both players experienced in the past year-plus is bad for the sports world. The agent used Rodgers’ situation with the Green Bay Packers to take a shot at Harden for his trade saga with the Houston Rockets this past winter.
NFL agent said James Harden “nuked” the Houston Rockets organization
James Harden had no intention of spending the 2020-21 NBA season with the Houston Rockets. He consistently maintained his desire for a trade and basically forced his way out of H-Town.
The Rockets begrudgingly obliged. Houston eventually sent Harden to the Brooklyn Nets as part of a four-team deal that netted them Victor Oladipo and future first-round picks. Oladipo was later traded to the Miami Heat for Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley.
One anonymous NFL agent believes the Harden example in the NBA and the Rodgers example with the Packers are evidence of why there shouldn’t be abundant player empowerment in sports. They questioned the need for one player to have vast influence over an organization and implied Harden’s trade demand doomed the Rockets.
This view is a bit skewed, however.
The Rockets entered a rebuild the moment Harden demanded a trade. But he wanted out for basketball reasons. It’s not necessarily fair to say The Beard “nuked” the organization considering Houston’s front office actually had to execute the move.
Not to mention, comparing James Harden’s situation in Houston to Aaron Rodgers’ place with the Packers seems like a stretch.
Aaron Rodgers was irked by systemic issues in the Green Bay Packers organization
Whereas James Harden wanted out of Houston because he didn’t believe the Rockets could win an NBA title, Aaron Rodgers never appeared to have that belief.
Rodgers’ hinted that his holdout was based on cultural issues within the Packers organization. His ire was aimed at the front office and the people at the top, but more for how those persons went about their business rather than their ability to field a championship team.
Ultimately, though, Rodgers and the Packers settled their differences and worked out an agreement. Green Bay also heeded Rodgers’ wishes in bringing back former wideout Randall Cobb.
In essence, the Packers are catering to Rodgers, at least in some respects. But while the one agent who criticized Harden does not feel quarterbacks like Rodgers should have the same say in personnel decisions, most indicated the three-time MVP merits that standing based on pedigree and stature.
Of the 31 respondents that Standig polled about whether quarterbacks deserve influence on organizational decisions, 19 said “It Depends.” Most, however, signaled that Rodgers is the kind of player with the gravitas needed to have said influence. Six respondents flatly said “Yes” to the posed question.
The NFL probably needs more player empowerment
The anonymous agent might not like the fact that superstar players hold tremendous sway over organizational decisions, but that’s just the way it is, especially in the NBA and NFL.
Actually, there is probably an argument for more player empowerment in the NFL.
Quarterbacks have a large voice within a given organization. It makes sense, considering they make the most money of any position in the sport and have as much importance as any position in team sports, period.
Still, professional football could stand to see more power given to the players. Some fans might argue players take matters into their own hands when they hold out for a new contract, but those players often stand to lose money based on fines if they are insistent on proving a point. Moreover, the franchise tags give organizations even more power over players.
The NBA often revolves around the whims and wishes of the players. LeBron James literally has the “LeGM” nickname. The anonymous agent doesn’t seem to want the NFL trending in the same direction and is willing to throw James Harden under the bus to prove a point, even if that point feels flawed.