By Tori Wittenbrock
Associate Sports Editor
BUFFALO, N.Y. – After making waves with his departure from the Green Bay Packers last season after a successful 18 years with the team, NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers was faced with both backlash and excitement as he signed a two-year $75 million contract to play for the New York Jets in the 2023 season.
However, discussion over his performance this season leading a new team has been cut short amid the Tuesday, Sept. 12, news confirming his ankle-injury is a season-ending torn achilles from his first and only drive with the Jets.
Jets vs. Bills
After an exciting entrance, running out onto the field at Highmark Stadium, proudly carrying an American flag, Rodgers found himself flat on the field, in crippling pain after receiving just four snaps in their Monday, Sept. 11, game against the Buffalo Bills.
The infamous former Packer player, participated in a run play in which he handed the ball off, an incomplete pass and a defensive holding call on the Bills before receiving his final snap which would be a sack by Bills defensive end Leonard Floyd.
Once a teammate, always a teammate
Despite the controversy Rodgers’ injury has caused, former teammates from his time in Green Bay have shown their support as fellow professional athletes dedicated to their craft.
One such player is former Green Bay Packer wide receiver Antonio Freeman.
“As a player you hate to see that, you know, because we put so much into it. Regardless of how fans view us, we work so hard on our body. We make sacrifices eating, leisure drinking and things of that nature and to see someone that I know works really, really hard to you know, have it all end on the fourth play of the game, when you spent the last 365 days getting ready for this moment,” Freeman told the Press Times.
Freeman said that although injuries like this are a part of the game, it is still hard to see someone that you played with for so long go through the experience.
“I’m so very sad to see it happen, you know, but that’s part of the game.”
What this means for Green Bay
Although Rodgers has cut ties with the Green Bay Packers, his injury still has some prominent effects on the future of the franchise.
With Rodgers’ injury putting him out for the rest of the season, he will not be able to fulfill his role in the terms of the trade agreement between the Packers and the Jets based on his performance this season. Many loyal Green Bay Packer fans have been up in arms about the inevitability of losing their first round draft pick secured in the trade, provided Rodgers played 65% of the snaps this season.
Despite leaving the Green Bay community after 18 years, Rodgers said that Green Bay will always be home to him.
“I’m not sure it’s possible to fully express the gratitude that I have to the Packers, our incredible fans, the state of Wisconsin,” said Rodgers in a social media post on April 25.
“I grew up in Green Bay, drafted at 21, fell in love with the game, met some lifelong friends, and take with me memories that will last a lifetime.”
Even though Rodgers’ injury will more directly and immediately affect the Jets than the Packers, he no doubt feels for the community that launched his NFL career, that he says he will always call home.
“This is not the end for us, I will see you again Green Bay, you’ll always have my heart,” Rodgers said, concluding the message on his post.