Rodgers hopes to help Jets add to ‘lonely’ Super Bowl trophy
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers watched old Super Bowl highlights on VHS tapes as a kid, dreaming about someday starring in his own.
He heard all about Joe Namath’s famous guarantee and saw the footage of the New York Jets shocking the football world by beating the Baltimore Colts in 1969.
“It’s been a while since then,” Rodgers said while being introduced as the Jets’ new quarterback Wednesday. “I noticed walking in this morning that that Super Bowl III trophy is looking a little lonely.”
Rodgers hopes he and his new teammates can help add some championship hardware to a franchise hungry for winning.
“I’m an old guy,” the 39-year-old Rodgers joked, “so I want to be part of a team that can win it all and I believe this is a place where we can get that done.”
The four-time NFL MVP was introduced to much fanfare in the team’s auditorium, filled with media, coaches and team staffers — flanked on the stage by coach Robert Saleh to his left and general manager Joe Douglas on his right.
“This is a surreal day for me,” said Rodgers, wearing a black and green Jets polo shirt.
The team officially announced the trade for Rodgers moments before he entered the auditorium, where highlights of his career in Green Bay played on a video screen shortly before he walked in.
The Jets received Rodgers, the No. 15 overall pick and a fifth-rounder this year from the Packers. In exchange, Green Bay got the 13th overall selection, a second-rounder, a sixth-rounder and a conditional 2024 second-round pick that could become a first-rounder if Rodgers plays 65% of New York’s plays this season.
Rodgers is well aware of the Jets’ playoff drought, which at 12 seasons is the longest active skid in the NFL.
“I’m not here to be a savior of any kind,” Rodgers insisted.
But that is the expectation by many, including a few generations of Jets fans who have longed to root for a winner. On Tuesday, Douglas called it a “historic” trade for the franchise.
“The opportunity to be part of something special here, it’s different,” Rodgers said. “It’s similar to Green Bay in that way. When you win in a city like Green Bay, and I assume for a team like the New York Jets, you go down in history.
“And there’s something special about adding that to your legacy.”
Rodgers spent his first 18 seasons in Green Bay, helping the Packers win a Super Bowl in 2011 while establishing himself as one of the game’s greatest quarterbacks.
“That chapter is over now and I’m excited about the new adventure here in New York,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers said he chose the Jets because he believes in the direction the franchise is heading with Douglas, Saleh and a young core of players that includes Offensive Rookie of the Year in Garrett Wilson and Defensive Rookie of the Year in Sauce Gardner.
Rodgers was also excited about reuniting with Nathaniel Hackett, the Jets’ new offensive coordinator who was in the same role when the quarterback won the last two of his four MVP awards in 2020 and 2021.
“When he walks into the building, everything changes,” Hackett said. “He just elevates everybody around him.”
When the rumors began about where Rodgers might play next, Namath offered to let him wear his retired No. 12 — Rodgers’ number in Green Bay — if he joined the Jets. Instead, Rodgers said, “To me, (No.) 12 is Broadway Joe,” and he will wear the No. 8 from his college days at Cal.
Rodgers wouldn’t commit to playing beyond this season, saying he’s focused on this upcoming year and staying in the area “for the foreseeable future” to work out with the team during the offseason program and get to know his new teammates.
Speaking with reporters after the news conference, Rodgers was a bit more expansive on his future.
“This isn’t a one and done in my mind,” the quarterback said, acknowledging that the Jets gave up a lot in the trade to acquire him. “This is a commitment. But it starts this season. That’s why I want to be present and not talk about future things. I want to be all-in.”
Saleh joked that Rodgers appears to have quickly gotten comfortable around his new squad.
“He already went to one of the meetings today,” Saleh said with a grin, “and he was walking around barefoot, so he’s right at home.”
Rodgers spent a few days in February contemplating his life and playing future during an isolation retreat in Oregon — while fans and reporters speculated about what he would decide. He emerged and deliberated some more before deciding on March 10 he intended to play again — and for the Jets. Rodgers made his intentions official during an appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” on YouTube and Sirius XM on March 15.
“It was the Jets, and only the Jets for me,” Rodgers said after the introductory news conference.
Rodgers arrived at the facility Wednesday morning wearing sunglasses and a black Jets hoodie. He was greeted one by one by owner Woody Johnson, vice chairman Christopher Johnson, Saleh — who gave the quarterback a loud high-five and hug — team president Hymie Elhai, Hackett and Douglas.
He spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon preparing for his Big Apple intro.
“This is a happy day,” Woody Johnson said.