Two brothers, both alike in dignity. All-star NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers may be a favorite on the field, but he’s been estranged from his family for some time with ongoing tension between him and younger brother Jordan Rodgers. “It pains both of us, like, not to have that relationship [with Aaron] – we miss our brother,” the eldest Rodgers sibling, Luke, said on The Bachelorette in 2016. “I trust that God brings things full circle and that everything would just get back to us being a family.”
Find out more below about the ongoing conflict between Aaron and Jordan, how it’s eroded the family bond, and what hope remains for the future.
In His Brother’s Shadow
Like his older brother, Jordan Rodgers pursued a career in professional football as a quarterback, starting out a junior college and transferring to another school later. While Aaron was drafted to the Green Bay Packers in 2005, Jordan was not drafted but signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars as a free agent. He also later played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I’ve been overlooked and slighted every step of the way. I think that brings out the best in me,” Jordan once told the Florida Times-Union about his prospects as a player. While Aaron has achieved certain triumphs, like earning the Super Bowl MVP and leading the NFL in touchdown-to-interception ratio, it’s safe to assume Jordan’s living in the shadow of his brother’s success has left an impression.
When a fellow contest on The Bachelorette taunted Jordan for being “entitled,” he noted it “[struck] a chord with him” regarding his efforts in life. “[I]t’s just not who I am, because, frankly, at every step of my life, I was just kind of disappointed,” he shared on the show, per The Washington Post. “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,” he admitted.
The Olivia Munn of it All
When Aaron began dating actress Olivia Munn in 2014, the Rodgers family was reportedly not on board with the romance. “Aaron is the one that has pulled away from the family, not the reverse,” a source told Us Weekly a few months before Aaron and Olivia split in 2017. “When he got together with Olivia Munn, 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.”
Another source, however, told PEOPLE in January 2017 the Newsroom actress had nothing to do with the familial conflict. “This is not her issue; this is the Rodgers family issue,” the insider dished to the outlet, also sharing how Aaron “never wanted to air this out in a public forum,” only adding to the quarterback’s chagrin.
Olivia herself finally addressed the situation publicly during a May 2018 appearance on Radio Andy, sharing that Aaron had been estranged from his family “eight months” before they began dating and that she and Jordan had been “friendly” upon meeting.
“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,” Olivia shared, ostensibly agreeing with Aaron’s reason for pulling away. “I don’t think either side of the road is clean, but I do think it’s not okay 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 revealed.
Family Drama Goes Public on ‘The Bachelorette’
In 2016, Jordan ditched football for reality TV and joined JoJo Fletcher‘s season of The Bachelorette. The 33-year-old became a popular focus of the show due to his star quarterback brother and he ended up revealing intimate details on the show — especially for the event of the home town date with the family, when he mentioned Aaron wouldn’t be present for the meeting.
Although the family seemed hesitant to reveal the exact details of what caused the estrangement between them, a source close to Aaron shared with PEOPLE in 2017 that a “blow-up fight” left the family torn apart. ““[Aaron and Jordan] have always been competitive, and they’re always trying to one-up each other,” a source close to Aaron told the outlet. “It’s been that way since they were kids. They got older, and the stakes got higher.” They added that things came to a head around 2014 in an argument that wasn’t “about anything all that interesting,” but that “things were said on both sides that were regrettable.”
“Their parents got involved in the middle of it,” the insider added. “Everyone needed a cooling-off period. It could have ended there, but some people chose to go public with it, rather than keeping it a private family matter. And here we are.”
The Rodgers Patriarch Speaks
After Jordan scored the final rose on The Bachelorette and he and JoJo became engaged, the brothers’ father Ed Rodgers spoke to the New York Times about some aspects of the family tension. Although he didn’t reveal too much, he did say that “fame can change things,” possibly referring to Aaron’s thrust into the spotlight as a popular, Super Bowl-winning quarterback.
Ed also went on to say it was “hard to tell sometimes” if there had been any progress with Aaron’s estrangement from the family and then described the NFL player’s support of his high school alma mater as “the old Aaron.”
Continuing with his sentiment, Ed shared that even though he didn’t love the family dirty laundry being aired out publicly, it was actually “good to have it all come out.” He then shared that it was “complicated,” but that the family was “hoping for the best.”
Aaron’s Partners [Somewhat] Reunite the Family
When Aaron began dating Danica Patrick in 2018, an insider told E! the NASCAR driver helped facilitate Aaron coming back together with his family. “Things between Aaron and his family are improving, slowly, but it is happening,” a source shared with the outlet in Oct. 2019. “Aaron is back on speaking terms with his family, including his brother Jordan, and it’s really all happening with the help of Danica, who is bridging the gap between everyone.”
The source went on, “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.”
Some progress seemed to have been made with Danica, although she and Aaron ended up going their separate ways in 2020. Aaron then went on to have a whirlwind romance with actress Shailene Woodley shortly thereafter which ultimately lead to an engagement the Big Little Lies star confirmed to Jimmy Fallon during a Feb. 2021 appearance on The Tonight Show.
With their engagement came questions of a wedding guest list. “Aaron is still thinking about which family members to invite,” an insider told Us Weekly in April 2021. “It’s something that’s weighing heavily on him.” Moreover, a source EXCLUSIVELY revealed to HollywoodLife that Aaron wanted to “protect his relationship” with Shailene at all costs. “[B]ringing into it the drama of what he is going through with his family is not something he wants to do right now — or at all,” the source shared with us.
Even so, all signs currently point to the couple planning for a California ceremony — where Aaron grew up and where most of he and Shailene’s friends and family live — causing some concerns for the NFL star regarding the purposeful exclusion of his family. The fraught dynamics, however, persist.
“Whether they decide to come [is] up to them,” the Us Weekly insider went on, leaving the door open for a possible continued estrangement or, hopefully, reconciliation.