Trust, not scotch: How Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur are bonding

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Rather, it was in Arizona, in the comfort of a home owned by Rodgers’ girlfriend, retired race car driver Danica Patrick, where LaFleur and Rodgers first met as coach and player — while watching sports.

Sure, the two had hung out once before — on a chance meeting in Santa Monica, California, a few years back. Rodgers was out with his then-quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt when they ran into LaFleur, then the Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator. LaFleur knew Van Pelt but had never met Rodgers until that day, when they had a few drinks together.

“I hadn’t had much interaction with him,” LaFleur recalled recently. “There was that one time I ran into him and Van Pelt where we hung out for, I don’t know, an hour or two.”8

This, however, was a planned meeting to start an arranged marriage — one orchestrated by Packers president Mark Murphy, who fired coach Mike McCarthy in December and hired LaFleur in January after just one round of interviews.

Yes, there would be plenty of time for LaFleur to get to know his quarterback once he arrived in Green Bay to start offseason workouts on April 8, but he felt an offsite meet-and-greet would prove beneficial. Just days after LaFleur attended his first NFL meetings — where team owners, general managers and head coaches assemble annually, this year at the Arizona Biltmore resort in Phoenix — a much more important get-together took nike

So there sat the 39-year-old first-time head coach and the 35-year-old two-time NFL MVP who had played for one head coach his entire time as a professional starter.

With the NCAA basketball tournament as the television backdrop, the two sports junkies spent the day together. Their player-coach relationship began over the Michigan State-Duke game in the Elite Eight.

“It was the first time I had hung out with him,” LaFleur said. “We had talked on the phone a bunch, but it was the first time because there’s nothing like … you can talk to somebody on the phone, but it’s so impersonal. You just want to see their face and just sit there man to man and talk. We sat and watched the NCAA tournament.”