The Green Bay Packers made the unpopular decision to suspend All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander, which means he will miss Sunday's must-win game against the Minnesota Vikings.
Alexander made himself a captain before the Packers' win over the Carolina Panthers in Week 16, joining the other three captains at the coin toss. After Green Bay won the toss, Alexander made the call on what the team wanted to do, something he nearly messed up.
The Packers weren't happy with Alexander. They have a process they go through, and Alexander effectively did what he wanted. The team made a decision that puts the culture first, showing that no player is above the rules. But it will hurt the Packers in the short term when they visit U.S. Bank Stadium this week.
LaFleur answered questions about Alexander's suspension during Wednesday's press conference.
Matt LaFleur answers questions about Packers suspending Jaire Alexander
LaFleur provided some insight into the decision to suspend Alexander and what it means for the All-Pro cornerback moving forward.
Here are some of the notable quotes from LaFleur on Wednesday:
LaFleur on whether the coin toss was the only reason for suspension:
"I'll just say this: It's never for one thing. I think there's a lot of lessons along the way for everyone involved."
This was one of the most notable quotes from the entire press conference. While LaFleur didn't go into detail, he hinted there was more to it than just the coin-toss situation. However, he shut down any conversation about Alexander's extended injury absence being part of it.
"I want to make sure this is perfectly clear: This has nothing to do with not being able to play," said LaFleur. "It's well documented he's been battling through, so it has nothing to do with that."
LaFleur on whether he was part of the decision with GM Brian Gutekunst:
"That's something we made together. It's unfortunate that we're at that juncture, and we felt like it was in the best interest in the long term for our team and for Jaire."
"It was a tough decision, especially where we're at right now, and one we don't take likely. But there are standards that we're all held accountable for, and when they're not met, unfortunately, sometimes you've got to take drastic measures."
LaFleur made it clear that he was part of the decision. It's a call Gutekunst could've made on his own, but it's important to have good communication on such a significant move. Losing Alexander hurts the Packers this week, but the team decided this was the right call for the team's long-term future.
It sends a message to the other players. All-Pros and veterans don't get a pass because they are star players, even if it's before an important game.
LaFleur on what's next for Jaire Alexander:
So, what's next? Suspending Alexander may be the right move for the overall team culture. Coaches can't allow players to just do what they want. But it doesn't exactly help the relationship between Alexander, LaFleur, and Gutekunst.
But LaFleur isn't concerned about that.
"I will say, we'll get him back, and we're looking forward to getting him back. We had a long conversation this morning. I thought it was very productive. I think in the long run -- although it's painful now -- I think we're all going to be better for this moving forward."
"I think Ja's going to be here a long time. He's a hell of a player. Just looking to move past this and learn from it, and we'll all move forward and be better for it."
The big question now is whether Alexander returns for the season finale against the Chicago Bears. What if the Packers are out of playoff contention by then?
It's hard to argue with the team's decision to suspend Alexander, but it's frustrating and decreases the Packers' chances of winning on Sunday. It's a game they can't afford to lose, but defending Justin Jefferson without Alexander is a daunting challenge for the secondary.