Aaron Rodgers empathizes with Simone Biles, says he worked on his 'mental state' in offseason

·3 min read

Aaron Rodgers, back in camp with the Green Bay Packers after an offseason of discontent, empathized with Olympian Simone Biles deciding to focus on her mental health during his first media availability of training camp on Wednesday. 

Rodgers: Needs to be more talk about athlete mental health

Rodgers was asked what it was like to miss organized team practice activities (OTAs) for the first time in his career and said it was "great." He then spoke of Biles and the need to de-clutter his mind over the offseason.  

"I think it's important that we work on our mental state and as you've seen with Simone Biles, I think there needs to be more conversation around that," Rodgers said. "We as athletes are often put on a pedestal that we're not — that we're beyond any mental hindrances or clutter. And the only time that mental health often gets talked about is when it's under the conversation of depression. I didn't have any depression, but I have a ton of respect for people who speak out in those situations. 

"For me, it was just about clearing any of the clutter. And that's what I try to do with this offseason by adjusting some habits and spending time with my loved ones, traveling as safely and as often as I possibly could and then making sure I was ready to go if I came back."

Rodgers announced his engagement — later found out to be actress Shailene Woodley — while accepting the NFL MVP award in February and spent the spring and summer sharing travel locations on his social media accounts. He also spent the season in a public standoff with the Packers and reportedly was so displeased he turned down a contract extension that would have made him the highest-paid quarterback in the league. Though there was concern he wouldn't report to Packers camp, he arrived with all eyes on him on Monday

Aaron Rogers
Aaron Rodgers said he de-cluttered his mind in an offeason of travel. (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Biles further opens conversation on mental health

Biles, 24, is the latest athlete to blow the conversation about the importance of mental health wide open when she withdrew from the Tokyo Olympics team gymnastics competition on Tuesday. After completing a low-scoring vault, she cited mental health issues in her removal from the rotation. She will also not compete in the Olympic all-around competition on Thursday. 

Athletes sent support to Biles in the hours after her withdraw in Tokyo and while NBC aired the competition in primetime that night in the states.  

While there is pressure on Rodgers to succeed from fans both in and out of Lambeau Field, the pressure on an Olympian comes from an entire nation. There is also particular pressure on the U.S. women's gymnastics team and an athlete such as Biles, who became the face of the Tokyo Olympic Games for the U.S. in marketing and promotion.  

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