Aaron Rodgers has spoken for the first time about his season-ending injury against the Buffalo Bills on Monday.
Just four plays into his New York Jets debut, the superstar quarterback was sacked by Bills edge rusher Leonard Floyd and suffered a complete tear of his left Achilles tendon.
“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,” Rodgers wrote on Instagram on Wednesday.
“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.
“The night is darkest before the dawn. And I shall rise yet again,” Rodgers added before saying he was proud of his teammates for securing a thrilling 22-16 win against the Bills.
Much of the NFL talk throughout the offseason surrounded Rodgers’ trade to the Jets. The four-time NFL Most Valuable Player had been traded from the Green Bay Packers, where he was drafted in 2005, and there was plenty of excitement about his arrival in New York.
‘The game cheats you sometimes’
“Honestly, initially, it didn’t feel real,” Jets tight end Tyler Conklin said on finding out about the length of Rodgers’ injury as New York players spoke to the media for the first time since the injury on Wednesday.
“We all just really feel for Aaron, right? How much he cared. How excited and not just how excited everybody in this place was to see him play and to play with them, but it’s how excited he was to, I’m sure, just prove so many people wrong, prove yourself for all things that he probably wanted to do,” Conklin continued.
“It really hurts. It’s hard to really imagine what he’s going through.”
Rodgers was the new star attraction in New York and many of the young Jets players would have grown up watching the Super Bowl XLV champion during his peak years with the Packers.
“I just wanted to take a carry from eight (Rodgers), man. Just get one from a great man. The game cheats you sometimes and I ain’t get that,” running back Dalvin Cook admitted.
Yet, despite the heavy setback, there is optimism among the Jets squad that Rodgers will be able to shake this injury off.
“I know he’s in surgery here soon and he’s going to attack this rehab and I think he’ll probably heal faster than anyone has ever seen someone come back from Achilles,” Jets center Connor McGovern added.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh also provided some hope that Gang Green fans will get to see Rodgers put the jersey on again.
“I’d be shocked if this is the way he’s going to go out,” Saleh said during Wednesday’s media availability. “He’s working through a whole lot of headspace things that he needs to deal with, and that will be the last thing I talk to him about.”
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Also showing their love for Rodgers were other past and present NFL star quarterbacks.
Reigning Super Bowl champion and NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes told reporters that the injury to Rodgers “sucks” for the game of football.
“It sucks for not only him and his team but for the entire league because he’s such a great player, someone that a lot of guys have looked up to throughout their entire career,” the Kansas City Chiefs star told reporters.
The Chiefs are set to face the Jets on October 1 and Mahomes is disappointed that a quarterback battle against Rodgers won’t be happening.
“You want to play teams at their best. I’m just praying for him that he’ll be able to heal himself, rehab and hopefully [come] back again next year and we maybe can get the opportunity then,” said Mahomes.
“This is not the ending, this is not supposed to happen this way,” Manning added. “Hopefully, he can get a speedy recovery and he can do it again next year.”
Since Rodgers suffered his Achilles tear, there has been much discussion over the use of artificial fields in the NFL.
While many believe that they are bad for player welfare, Manning does not believe this caused Rodgers to suffer his injury.
“I was never worried about the turf. I never got injured because of turf. I played in that stadium and in the old stadium, played in MetLife. So I honestly believe that the turf had nothing to do with that injury. I think it was just unfortunate,” Manning explained.
Meanwhile, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said science will play an important part in whether the league continues to allow players to play on turf pitches.
“That’s where we make decisions: on the basis of science, not because I see an injury that I don’t like. Ultimately, I want our experts to come back and give it to us,” Goodell told ESPN on Wednesday.
Goodell said that it is a complicated issue because of the many different factors that could have led to the injury.
“We’ll look at the mechanism of injury on Aaron’s injury and see what may have caused that. But unfortunately, we had two ACL injuries. One was on grass and one was on the turf … From our standpoint, that’s something that we’ll look at. We’ll look deeply at it. We always want to try to get the best surfaces,” Goodell added.