When the New York Jets opened the checkbook and decided to be serious contenders in the AFC by signing former Packer Aaron Rodgers, many thought the balance of power had shifted in the conference. The Jets were a team loaded with young talent and good coaching, yet they lacked the stability behind center that is necessary to be real Super Bowl contenders.
With the addition of a proven winner in Rodgers, the sky was expected to be the limit, and Rodgers was expected to be the missing piece to the puzzle. The vibes were good through camp, and quarterback and team seemed to be the perfect fit.
Then, the season started. Four plays into the first game, Aaron Rodgers’s Achilles tendon was shredded under the weight of a crushing sack, and with it, all of the good vibes of the offseason dissolved into the ether of Monday Night Football.
Former first-round pick and once defacto franchise quarterback Zach Wilson entered the game and filled in admirably with the team winning the game on a walk-off punt return in overtime. However, even the most hardcore Jets fans know Wilson is more of a question than an answer, and with no other options, the team is set to ride with the underachieving BYU product.
The question that everyone is asking now is: what does the future hold for Aaron Rodgers? At 38 years old, it will be difficult, at best, for Rodgers to rehab and make it back to play at a high level. That isn’t to say it can’t be done, however. Dan Marino tore his Achilles in 1994 at the age of 33 and returned the next season to throw for over 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns.
Technology and rehab are much better thirty years later, so it could reasonably be expected that Rodgers could rehab and be back for next season if he so chose to. Luckily for Jets fans, it appears Rodgers is choosing to. He released a statement with his intentions on social media: “The night is darkest before the dawn. And I shall rise yet again.”
Always the thoughtful introspect, Rodgers waxed poetic about what will come. As evidenced during HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” Rodgers bonded with his team and coaches. He continued: “Thank you to every person that has reached out, called, texted, DM’d, connected through a friend, etc. It has meant a ton to me, and I’ll try and get back to all of you soon. I’m completely heartbroken and moving through all of the emotions, but deeply touched and humbled by the support and love. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I begin the healing process today…Proud of my guys, 1-0.”
It certainly sounds as if Aaron Rodgers has every intention of rehabbing and fulfilling the second year of his contract. It would be a bad wager to bet against the soon-to-be 39-year-old Rodgers, and with the uncertainty at the position long term, the team would be well served to support him in the process.
If Zach Wilson proves to be a capable fill-in, the narrative might be different next season, but for now, Jet fans will be crossing their collective fingers that 2023 isn’t a total disaster as they wait for Aaron Rodgers to triumphantly take the field next season.
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