Did you know that Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is dating actress Olivia Munn? And that they try to have as much sex as possible but not on game days? And that they make cute Instagram videos lip-synching to Mariah Carey and acting out scenes from movies? And that Rodgers makes a delicious beef, rice and vegetable dish?
You would know all that and more if you followed Rodgers and the NFL at all for the past 18 months since the two started dating, including a cover story last week in Sports Illustrated.
I just wish Rodgers would stop shoving his heterosexuality in my face.
That last sentence was deliberately provocative because it's something that has bugged Cyd and me since Outsports started covering LGBT athletes. Constantly we are asked why these athletes have to "shove" their personal life in our faces or recoil when Michael Sam kisses his boyfriend on national TV.
Yet they don't get that this is what straight male athletes do all the time when they parade their girlfriend or wife on the public stage, be it on the ESPY's red carpet or kissing on the field or court after a big win. It's "normal," yet it's the same thing they accuse gay athletes of doing -- they are advertising their heterosexuality, however subconsciously.
It bothers me more with Rodgers because this seems a clear attempt to dispel any rumor that he is gay. There is context to this: In December 2013, numerous gossip websites picked up some tweets by Kevin Lanflisi, Rodgers' then personal assistant whom Rodgers referred to as "more of a, like, a best friend/roommate deal." (1:50 mark of this video).
The two were at one time quite close. There is a video of the two of them posing for photos together at a sports award show in Wisconsin, and some leaped to the conclusion that they were a couple. In addition, Lanflisi was a prolific tweeter, posting photos of himself wearing Rodgers' Super Bowl ring and tweeting excitedly from awards shows he attended with the quarterback.
Something happened in late 2013 that caused a fracture in their relationship. Lanflisi's tweets about Rodgers were bitter and accused him of being selfish, among other things. Even though there was zero reference to them having a romantic relationship, many websites posted about them, speculating that this was two boyfriends breaking up. It was the kind of stuff seen on gossip sites all the time, thinly sourced and yet titillating.
Outsports did not write about this since it was all speculation based on appearances and innuendo. Neither Cyd nor I have never met Rodgers and had no idea as to his sexual orientation. Media, including Outsports, have always held to the standard that an LGBT person needs to make a public declaration of their sexual orientation.
But on Dec. 31, 2013, Rodgers was on a radio show and brought up how it was hard to keep a separation between his public and private life and how he had to deal with "crazy rumors that swirl around you from time to time that are just silly." He was then asked if he was talking about the gay rumors and he said yes, adding: "I'm not gay. I really, really like women. That's all I can really say about that." OK then. Rodgers says he's straight and, short of any evidence to the contrary, that's the final word.
But Rodgers did not stop there. Just a few months after his declaration, he started dating Munn. And the quarterback who was always so private about his personal life was that no longer. Munn talked about their sex life and the cute Instagram videos were released, timed just prior to the start of this season. Then, last week, Sports Illustrated ran its lengthy cover story, "Who is Aaron Rodgers? The many sides of the NFL's best quarterback."
The story talked about Rodgers as a player but also made a half-dozen references to his relationship with Munn, including posting stills from the Instagram videos. The message was clear: Rodgers is straight.
He's playing from an old playbook. Athletes such as Troy Aikman, Kordell Stewart, Mike Piazza and Jeff Garcia all at one time had rumors about them being gay. They all said these rumors were not true and that they were straight. And they all then soon after started relationships with women, making sure they got the high-profile media treatment. They obviously felt a need to convince the public.
What pisses me off, though, is that the public doesn't need convincing. Once Rodgers declared he was not gay, there was nothing left to be said. Lanflisi posted some snarky tweets at Rodgers following Packer losses in the 2014 season, especially after the NFC Championship Game collapse in Seattle this January. But his Twitter and Instagram feeds have been deleted. No one was talking about Rodgers being gay any more. There was no there there.
Yet it is clear to me that Rodgers feels a need to remind us all over and over about his heterosexual bona fides, as the Sports Illustrated story shows. Rodgers is the same person who said in that 2013 radio interview that "professional is professional and personal is personal and that's how I am going to keep it." That all changed after he denied the rumors and started dating Munn.
After he won the 2014 NFL MVP award, the first person he thanked was Munn, saying, "there's no one I would rather spend every day of the journey with than you babe." So much for keeping his personal and professional lives separate; he intertwined them on national TV as the camera showed Munn in the crowd.
In denying the rumors, I wish Rodgers had said something to the effect of "I'm not gay, not that there's anything wrong with that," but he didn't. Instead, he called such a suggestion "crazy" and "silly." There is nothing "silly" about someone being gay, and it's not a crazy thought that a pro athlete could prefer men. I could have accepted such a response from athletes in the 1990s, but not 2015. Since then, Rodgers has missed few chances to remind us that he is dating a woman, which tells me that he was bothered by those "silly" rumors.
The Sports Illustrated story was to me a calculated attempt to present a public version of Rodgers very much controlled by him. He asked the writer to not contact Munn or his family members and the writer complied. "Everything about his interaction with a reporter is calculated," the story says, so Rodgers knew what this was all about and that he allowed the writer to deal with his private life, again mixing it with the professional.
I get it, dude. You are not gay. We never said you were. You really, really like women. You're a talented cook and you and your lady have as much sex as possible. But please shut up about it already.