Aaron Rodgers and his younger brother, Jordan Rodgers, both grew up playing football, and they both managed to make careers out of their love for the sport. While Aaron has been a superstar quarterback for the Green Bay Packers for years, Jordan never developed a career as a professional player. He became known for his time on The Bachelorette, and that helped land him gigs analyzing what’s happening on the football field. There is one more brother in the family, Luke, who is the oldest of the three (via The New York Times).
The Rodgers brothers grew up in Chico, Calif. Aaron was born in December 1983, while Jordan joined the family in August 1988. The guys attended Pleasant Valley High School in Chico and football certainly seemed to be the family way of life. But while these joint passions and careers in the sport could bring some brothers closer together, Aaron and Jordan’s relationship has been a strained one for years.
Jordan Rodgers grows up in Aaron Rodgers’ shadow
Aaron Rodgers’ path to professional football created a path for his younger brother to try to follow. As Jordan Rodgers told The Florida Times-Union, neither of the brothers were offered a chance with a Division I college out of high school. They both started out at junior colleges and transferred to other schools later. Aaron was drafted by Green Bay in 2005, although he was the 24th pick. Jordan (pictured above on the field for the Vanderbilt Commodores), however, wasn’t drafted at all — instead signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars via free agency. Speaking out after being passed over in the draft he said, "I’ve been overlooked and slighted every step of the way. I think that brings out the best in me."
Jordan acknowledged that he was frequently compared to Aaron, which was understandable considering they both were quarterbacks. But in college, Jordan was even "taunted" over the connection at times by spectators. He tried to use it to his advantage and utilize his brother as a "resource," but it wasn’t always easy. When a fellow bachelor on The Bachelorette called him "entitled," he got quite upset (via The Washington Post).
"That just really strikes a chord with me. Just, like, that kind of word, because it’s just not who I am, because, frankly, at every step of my life, I was just kind of disappointed. No matter what I did, it was never good enough for a coach or for a teammate, because I was being compared to someone who did it best," Jordan admitted.
Aaron’s relationship with Olivia Munn allegedly impacts family dynamics
In 2014, Aaron Rodgers started dating The Newsroom star Olivia Munn (via Us Weekly). Although Jordan Rodgers and his big brother had been competitive over the years, there were signs that Aaron’s romantic relationship might have been a catalyst for the family estrangement. Soon after the relationship between Aaron and his new gal started, the Rodgers family reportedly tried to warn him about his new girlfriend. "His family told him they didn’t trust her and thought she wasn’t with him for the right reasons. That made him furious, and he ended up choosing Olivia over his family," an insider told Us Weekly at the time.
Aaron was reportedly upset that his girlfriend was blamed for the family estrangement, however, the NFL star has repeatedly stated that he does not like airing out his personal business in the press. On top of that, an insider told People that this really had nothing to do with her. Rather, it was entirely a "Rodgers family issue." Despite Aaron’s discomfort with discussing family matters in the press, both Munn and Jordan eventually commented on the complicated dynamic, which we’ll discuss in just a moment.
The overall Rodgers family dynamic shifts in 2014
What had apparently always been a competitive dynamic between Aaron Rodgers and his younger brother seemed to take a difficult turn in late 2014, People detailed. Jordan Rodgers and his brother apparently had a massive "blow-up" over something and apparently it got rather ugly.
According to a source for Bleacher Report, Aaron stopped speaking to the rest of his family in December 2014. Aaron reportedly skipped the funeral of his grandfather around that time, and this had been a family member he’d previously called prior to every football game. Aaron supposedly returned Christmas gifts to his parents and he apparently even bailed on the wedding of a close friend. Not only did Aaron reportedly skip the wedding, but he was slated to be a groomsman and dropped out via text the day before the nuptials.
As the family estrangement escalated, Aaron’s family was left on their own to get tickets to any Green Bay Packer games. Not only that, but apparently nobody in the Rodgers family even had the quarterback’s cell phone number.
The Rodgers family drama becomes public knowledge
In 2016, Jordan Rodgers joined JoJo Fletcher’s season of The Bachelorette (via Green Bay Press Gazette). His participation generated a lot of headlines, thanks to the fame of his star quarterback brother, and Jordan was quickly deemed a major frontrunner for JoJo’s final rose. During the course of the season, and especially heading into a hometown date with the family, Jordan opened up on-camera about the conflict with his famous older brother.
Before the hometown date, Jordan told JoJo that Aaron wouldn’t be there. As The Washington Post detailed, production even left two empty chairs at the dinner table during the hometown date to emphasize that someone was missing. Aaron’s name was brought up multiple times, leaving fans of The Bachelorette wondering just what caused such a blatant, significant, estrangement.
What did seem to become fairly clear, at the time, was that Aaron’s fame caused challenges in the family dynamic. The fact that Aaron and Jordan had been quite competitive through the years seemingly didn’t help. The family hesitated to say much in the way of specifics on-camera, and Jordan even went out of his way to say (via The Washington Post) that loves Aaron he doesn’t "have hard feelings against him" even though unlike Jordan, Aaron did not "chose to stay close with [the] family." But it was obvious that this was a sensitive, painful subject.
Aaron Rodgers delivers some slight shade to Jordan Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers wasn’t particularly pleased by the attention his brother’s involvement with The Bachelorette generated for him (via WISN). When Jordan Rodgers made it to the final two of JoJo Fletcher’s season, Aaron was asked about it. He said he hadn’t seen the season at all, so it "hasn’t really affected me a whole lot," the football star said.
Even if he chose not to watch Jordan on The Bachelorette, it seemed that Aaron was at least annoyed by the attention it brought. The family estrangement had already been in place for some time, more than a year from the sounds of things, but Jordan’s prominent involvement in JoJo’s run as The Bachelorette made it a hard topic to dodge.
"As far as those kinds of things go, I’ve always found that it’s a little inappropriate to talk publicly about some family matters, so I’m just — I’m not going to speak on those things, but I wish him well in the competition," Aaron told WISN.
Jordan Rodgers scores the final rose, but remains estranged from Aaron Rodgers
Ultimately, Jordan Rodgers received JoJo Fletcher’s final rose and got engaged to The Bachelorette star (via People). During the flurry of updates after the finale aired, he was asked if he’d invite his estranged brother Aaron Rodgers to the nuptials. "There’s no scenario in which I wouldn’t want my entire family at a wedding so absolutely, that’s something all of our family wants and hopes for at some point," Jordan shared in response.
Jordan also explained that he believed the details regarding his family dynamics were important to share with JoJo during the process of doing the show. He knew his time was limited while filming The Bachelorette, and he wanted to ensure he shared "everything [he] needed to in order to get to a place where [they] could be engaged."
By the time The Bachelorette finale aired, JoJo and Jordan had already been secretly engaged for a couple of months. As the couple shared updates during a live section of the finale, JoJo was asked if she’d had a chance to meet Aaron yet. As People detailed, at that point, she still had not met her famous future brother-in-law. She detailed that the family situation remained unchanged, and that it wasn’t a priority for them as a couple at that point.
Aaron and Jordan Rodgers’ father weighs in on the family drama
A few months after Jordan Rodgers and JoJo Fletcher’s engagement aired on The Bachelorette, his father shared some thoughts publicly. Ed Rodgers (above right) acknowledged the ongoing family tensions during a chat with The New York Times. He didn’t get very specific, but he did mention that "fame can change things." That statement seemed to be a reference to Aaron Rodgers’ life as a popular, professional football player.
Ed confirmed the accuracy of some prior reports regarding the family’s issues, and he admitted that it had often been "hard to tell" if there had been any softening between Aaron and the rest of the Rodgers family. He was pleased to hear that "the old Aaron" had emerged when he did a video to encourage his high school alma mater as they battled for a state championship win.
While Ed said that "airing public laundry" wasn’t the path he would have preferred, he admitted, "It’s good to have it all come out." Specifically, he explained that having their family issues broadcast via The Bachelorette left fewer people asking him about Aaron’s games. He admitted that it was a "complicated" situation, but that the family is "all hoping for the best."
Olivia Munn and Jordan Rodgers finally, publicly clash over the family’s estrangement
Aaron Rodgers and Olivia Munn split in April 2017, noted People. In a chat on Radio Andy in May 2018, Munn finally addressed Aaron’s issues with his family, claiming he had been estranged from them "for like eight months before we started dating." The Newsroom star detailed that she had met Jordan Rodgers and the two had been "friendly." She met Aaron’s parents "a couple times" as well, and said she’d "encouraged" her beau to reach out to his family, which he did, resulting in his parents attending some games in Green Bay during that thaw in the relationship. However, it didn’t take long for the issues to resurface.
"At the end of the day, I do believe that family and fame and success can be really complicated if their dreams are connected to your success," Munn suggested, seemingly agreeing that Aaron had reason to pull away. "I don’t think either side of the road is clean, but I do think it’s not OK when you try to stand on someone’s shoulders and then throw dirt in their face, which is what I think they did with him," she concluded.
Unsurprisingly, Munn’s remarks did not go over well — with Jordan, at least. Speaking with Us Weekly, he kept his reply blunt, stating, "I’ll say I have no idea why she’s still talking about an ex, I don’t get that."
The California wildfires spark Jordan to come directly at Aaron
Aaron Rodgers’ home state of California was hit with devastating wildfires in 2018, and the situation seemed to re-ignite some of the family tensions (via Fox News). Aaron shared a video via his Twitter page and encouraged his fans to help fundraising efforts to assist those impacted. The Green Bay Packers quarterback opened up about the devastating impact the fires had on the area where he’d grown up, and he explained he was donating $1 million himself.
In a since-deleted tweet, Aaron’s younger brother Jordan Rodgers lashed out. As Fox News detailed, Jordan encouraged people to spread love and awareness in response to the California fires. He didn’t mention or tag Aaron, but the rest of his post made it clear he was referencing his older brother. "But when your Mom is home alone during the fires, car packed ready to evacuate, & you miss the fundamental first step of compassion; calling your parents to make sure they are safe…. Everything else just feels like an act," Jordan tweeted.
On top of that, Jordan and Aaron’s older brother, Luke Rodgers, retweeted that post and added a dig of his own. "Smells like cowardice this morning," Luke tweeted. In a repy to someone on the thread, Luke added that he both donated and called to check on his parents.
A new relationship for Aaron Rodgers prompts progress for the family
As E! detailed, Aaron Rodgers’ romance with former race car driver Danica Patrick seemed to help Aaron reconnect with his family. By late 2019, Aaron was speaking to Jordan Rodgers and the rest of his family again, although the process of reconnecting was a slow one. "[I]t’s really all happening with the help of Danica, who is bridging the gap between everyone," an insider told the outlet.
In fact, it seemed that Danica’s influence on her beau at the time was significant. The insider suggested that she was quite intent on seeing the family bond again and she was willing to put in a lot of work to ensure that it happened. She was also said to have a very positive influence on Aaron as a "real guiding and loving force."
"He is in an entirely different place these days, and his family has been open to this reconciliation. They were at one time [a] very close family, so it’s a sore subject for them, but they are all working on it," the source explained.
The rebuilding process for the Rodgers family was described as a "long and painful road," but it seemed clear that significant progress was being made.
Aaron Rodgers’ views on religion ruffle the family’s feathers
Comments that Aaron Rodgers made during an appearance on Danica Patrick’s Pretty Intense podcast in December 2019 seemed to fan the flames of the family tensions again. Aaron talked about growing up in a home where religion was a prominent component of his upbringing. He told Patrick that as a child, going to church was simply expected of him, but he struggled to embrace what he saw as the tenets of Christianity. "Ultimately, it was that rules and regulations and binary systems don’t really resonate with me," Aaron explained.
Whatever progress had been made in reconciling within the Rodgers family seemed to cool again after the podcast aired. As People detailed, the comments Aaron made regarding religion significantly impacted his parents. They were reportedly "dismayed" and deeply hurt despite their love for Aaron. "To them, his comments are basically a slap in the face to the fundamentals of who they are. It’s basically him turning his back on everything they have taught him," an insider explained.
The comments Aaron made during the podcast seemed to drive the family further apart once again."They have these times where things start to thaw out, but then something like this happens, and then it’s back to square one. It’s sad," the source for People noted.
Aaron’s engagement prompts difficult decisions
Aaron Rodgers embraced a new, whirlwind romance in early 2021, but his ongoing family estrangement reportedly hovered as a black cloud over his happiness. Aaron and Shailene Woodley got engaged in February soon after being connected to one another, and they apparently wasted no time in working on the guest list for their wedding. "Aaron is still thinking about which family members to invite. It’s something that’s weighing heavily on him," an insider told Us Weekly.
Early indications were that Aaron and Shailene planned to get married in California. Given that Aaron’s parents still lived there, where he grew up, it almost certainly would end up quite awkward if they weren’t invited. Ahead of the formal invitations being sent, it sounded as if Aaron felt it would be wrong of him to exclude his immediate family. However, the dynamics remained complicated. "Whether they decide to come [is] up to them," Us Weekly‘s source detailed.
Could Aaron’s wedding day provide the opportunity for Jordan Rodgers and the rest of the Rodgers family to finally put the years-long feud to rest? It seems possible that could be the case. However, it could also end up being yet another milestone in the ongoing estrangement among the family members. It seems likely that fans of both Aaron and Jordan will be watching to see how things progress.