On an early first down Monday night, 38-year-old New York Jets left tackle Duane Brown attempted a poorly executed cut block that resulted in Buffalo Bills edge rusher Leonard Floyd getting a free shot at Aaron Rodgers. New York’s pricey new quarterback lacking time in the pocket to operate behind a good left tackle was the worst fear Jets fans realized. But at least he got up– briefly.
For those who disassociated in that moment, their thoughts veered towards the Jets dipping into their utility belt to replace Brown, and save Rodgers’ aging body from taking a battering. There was too much invested in Rodgers. He finally touched down in April to unprecedented fanfare after a ballyhooed darkness retreat.
On Monday morning, multiple outlets confirmed that Rodgers had ruptured his decrepit left Achilles tendon. From the start of the Rodgers era, pianos were falling from the sky. At the start of OTAs, Rodgers limped off. After a brief preseason cameo and a four-play microdose of regular season Rodgers, he was carted out. Four plays into his career, Rodgers’ left Achilles popped and with it, took the Jets Super Bowl aspirations with him. All in all, his tenure may have been shorter than an ayahuasca trip.
The ratio of stories written that include the words Rodgers or Jets to downs played has to be a world record. From the cutthroat atmosphere to the media attention, New York can gobble public figures up pretty quickly, but devouring someone this quickly is Usain Bolt levels of fast. For a brief period, he bestowed the Jets fanbase with a self-esteem boost and took others off the ledge of jumping ship to the Giants. After Big Blue was decimated 40-0, that latter group of New Yorkers is stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Pitchers are notoriously fragile, Rodgers didn’t even last as long as quadragenarians Max Scherzer or Justin Verlander. On the heels (poor choice of words) of the premature end to Jasson Dominguez’s season, and the dissolution of the Brooklyn Nets, the Jets had skyscraping aspirations. Congrats to Jalen Brunson on becoming the mayor (of New York City) sports.
Now that the Rodgers era is potentially over after a decade, or maybe it just felt that long, it’s vital that we determine his legacy. Here’s the unbridled positive side. Since their most recent championship in Super Bowl III, the Jets are 22-32 in Week 1. That means Rodgers started one of the best 23 openers in Jets history. Rodgers also fell short of playing the 65 percent of snaps necessary to upgrade the Jets hold on their 2024 second-round pick to a first.
The New York Jets are cursed, of course
In many ways, Rodgers lived up to the Jets curse and then some. Following in Brett Favre’s footsteps from Green Bay to Gang Green, he verified that the generational trauma of Jets fans will live on in another generation’s helix.
To determine the extent of the biological changes that emotional trauma can trigger within descendents, daring neuroscientists did the dirty work of emotionally scarring mice. Their work contributed to the accepted theory that fearful emotional wounds could alter the cells and influence the behavior of future generations.
It’s also commonly known that Jets fans were immunized against disappointment, but science won’t take it seriously. The Green Bay quarterbacks storing the same genetic markers that led them to disappoint Woody Johnson is an even more monumental development. Fifteen years ago, Favre embarked on a similar journey as Rodgers, from the sticks out in Green Bay to the blinding lights of the New York metropolitan area. Favre arrived with similar pomp and circumstance only to be crippled by an injured bicep that limited him as a passer, but not as a texter.
However, after enduring the grueling recovery associated with a ruptured Achilles, will Rodgers feel up to getting back into playing shape to continue his distinguished Jets career next season? At 40, this is going to be an even tougher grind.
Rodgers’ preeminent legacy as a Jet could be further inflated by enduring the greatest comeback from an Achilles in league history. If he pulled that off and played two, three, four drives, it would only inflate his Jets legacy. In 1993, Dan Marino ruptured his Achilles, but the injury ultimately limited hip mobility for the rest of his career. In the meantime, the Jets will focus on patching up their O-Line and developing trust in Zach Wilson.
Rodgers’ greatest moments will illuminate this season though. Who amongst us can forget his only preseason start against the Jets and his purdy touchdown strike to Garrett Wilson? His sprint out of the tunnel with the American flag on 9/11 was the most uplifting Jets moment in 50 years. Rodgers didn’t just vow to make the Jets contenders, but he promised to help rehabilitate Wilson and repair him through osmosis. One can only hope that his extensive work with Wilson has been etched into his impressionable mind and muscle memory because it’s now his show.
Rodgers is among the Jets legends now; on the sidelines.
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