Four takeaways from Aaron Rodgers' introductory news conference with New York Jets media
GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers’ excuse for a breakdown of communication with the Packers might have raised eyebrows most Wednesday, but he had plenty more to say about his venture to the New York Jets.
The four-time MVP quarterback said a lack of FaceTime calls were why he and Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst haven’t spoken since shortly after this season, despite many attempts from the Packers to continue dialogue before trading him to the Jets this spring. Rodgers, in his first encounter with New York media, was asked about a bevy of other topics during his 15-minute introductory news conference.
Here are the most notable takeaways.
On why the New York Jets were his ideal next team
It wasn’t just Aaron Rodgers’ familiarity with Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett that attracted him to New York. For a career-long NFC North quarterback, Rodgers had more familiarity than expected with his new AFC East home.
The Packers hosted the Jets in Week 6 at Lambeau Field last season and were dealt a 27-10 loss. A year earlier, they hosted the Jets for joint practices in training camp. In that time, Rodgers said he got to know the organization well.
“They smoked us last year,” Rodgers said, “so I knew they had a good team. We got to practice against them a couple years ago, and I go to know (coach Robert Saleh) a little bit more. I’ve always loved what he’s all about. We played him in San Fran (when Saleh was the 49ers defensive coordinator) a few times, and mostly they got the best of us. But I liked the way he was leading, his coaching style.”
Rodgers’ appreciation for Hackett was a “big reason” he wanted to play for the Jets, the quarterback said. Hackett was the Packers offensive coordinator for three seasons before being hired as the Denver Broncos head coach last year. Rodgers, who won two MVPs in that time, said he loves Hackett like a brother.
With the right pieces in place, Rodgers believes, the Jets have the ingredients for him to win his elusive second Super Bowl ring.
“I’m an old guy,” Rodgers said. “So I want to be a part of a team that can win it all, and I believe this is a place where we can get that done.”
On his future beyond the 2023 season
Aaron Rodgers was asked twice about his future beyond this coming season. He declined to commit to playing in 2024 both times.
Rodgers said he will stay in the New York area throughout this offseason. He’ll take part in team activities Thursday, and is already planning to host team-building events to build comradery. From the podium, that’s as far as he was willing to commit.
“There wasn’t any specific conversation that I would like to share with that,” Rodgers said. “I’m an older player, so there’s a lot more than just the playing part. There’s a body part that comes into play, but the reason I take care of myself is to allow myself to play into my 40s. I’ve always dreamt of being a starter at 40. I’ll play 40 in December of this year.
“I’m going to be here for the foreseeable future. I think it’s important, obviously I know the scheme that Hack’s putting in, there’s some tweaks. But I want to get to know the guys and be around the facility.”
Off the podium, Rodgers told local reporters he understood the Jets gave the Packers a lot in terms of draft compensation to trade for him, and hinted he isn’t determined for this to be a “one-and-done” situation. He would not commit to playing in 2024.
Asked if he will practice with the team this offseason, Rodgers quipped: “Does tomorrow count? Yeah, tomorrow. I’ll be in there tomorrow.”
On following Brett Favre’s path to the Jets
For Packers and Jets fans alike, the sense of history repeating itself is unmistakable.
It was 15 years ago the Packers traded Favre to the Jets. Favre played one season in New York before finishing his career with the Minnesota Vikings. The duplication isn’t lost on Rodgers, either.
“He had a legendary career,” Rodgers said. “It is very ironic that our paths have kind of taken another step in the same direction. Brett and I over the years have talked about this transition and what it was like, but that was a different coaching staff, a different GM, different circumstances. I’m excited about the opportunity to work with these guys and my teammates and the coaching staff, but I haven’t texted him lately about this opportunity.”
On wearing No. 8 for the first time in his NFL career
Rodgers’ old jersey number was at his disposal if he chose to wear it. The number 12 is sacred in Jets land, retired because it belonged to legendary quarterback Joe Namath.
The only quarterback to lead the Jets to a Super Bowl, Namath went on record saying the Jets could unretire his number if it was worn on Rodgers’ back. Out of respect, Rodgers said, he never seriously considered the option.
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“There’s some iconic names who have played here,” Rodgers said, “probably none more iconic that No. 12. I heard what he said about unretiring his number, but to me 12 is Broadway Joe. I didn’t even want to go down that path, and I’m excited about going back to my college number. But there’s something special about playing in a city with a team like this with a storied franchise, and obviously going way, way back to Super Bowl III.
“To be a part of something special would definitely help me go down in the history of the organization. I already have 18 years in an incredibly iconic organization, and it would be fun to be a part of the history of this one as well.”