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Aaron Rodgers Feeling 90% Himself During Jets OTAs

Veteran QB: 'I Wouldn’t Play If I Didn’t Think We Could Win the Super Bowl and I Could Win MVP'


Hours after Jets QB Aaron Rodgers sustained an Achilles tendon tear four snaps into his Jets' career, the four-tine NFL MVP took to Instagram and posted:, "The night is darkest before dawn. And I shall rise again."

After surgery and many small and large steps alike, Rodgers was back at 1 Jets Drive eight months later reflecting and looking ahead.

"One of the best, hardest years of my life," he said after a recent OTA voluntary session. "And I'm super thankful for all the highs and lows, but I'm hoping for a little smoother ride this year."

The Rodgers' 2023 takeoff encountered early turbulence and a quick landing. But the Jets' passer, who famously spent time at a darkness retreat following the 2023 season, has a knack for the finding the light no matter the situation.

"It was a tough year but so many beautiful things came out of this that I am thankful for that only could have happened if things had gone done the way they did," he said. "I think that's the right perspective to have in life because life is either happening to us or for us. If we always believe it's happening to us, there is some victim mindset, some woe is me that doesn't lead to a lot of positivity. If we believe it's happening for us, even in the darkest moments of frustration and disappointment, there is some beauty to be found in the void. And I'm thankful for the lessons I learned in the process and hopefully it made me a better teammate, a better person, a better quarterback in the long run."

Over the course of 231 pro appearances and 224 career starts, Rodgers has passed for 59,055 yards and his TD (475) to INT (105) ratio is tops in NFL history. Not known for making mistakes with his play, Rodgers has tinkered with his approach while maintaining an intense mindset.

"I've just learned a lot from my mistakes," he said. "I've always been hyper-competitive; I've always held myself to a super-high standard of greatness. I've always wanted to be intentional about every practice mattering and trying to get better, but I think I've just learned a little bit more about myself and as I give myself the self-love that I deserve, I'm able to show up better for my teammates and show up a little bit gentler, a little bit kinder, a little bit more patience, a little bit more gratitude for the life lessons along the way and just trying to put myself more in their shoes and give them exactly the words and the love and the support or the accountability that they might need in those moments. But I love to be intentional, I love to compete, I love trying to work on one thing every single day and focus on that and feel like I accomplished something and got better. But I really enjoy the relationships, that's what this is all about."

Early in OTAs, Rodgers has had no limitations and was a full-go. But there is ongoing transition for both the body and the mind.

"Mentally, I'm there," he said. "Physically, I just got to get that confidence to let it loose and I'm getting close to that. It's a process. Anytime you come back from injury whether it's an extremity or internal or even a concussion, there are certain benchmarks you need to hit in order to feel better and each one has its own challenges. These practices, the first two, have helped. I feel much better today than I did yesterday and I'm sure I'll feel better next week, and the following week and training camp will be great. And at some point, it will just be a distant memory and I'll feel like 100 percent myself. Right now, I'm 90 percent% myself and 10 percent not sure what's going on with various parts of my body."

Rodgers at 90% is quite good. During last Tuesday's session the media attended, Rodgers looked left and multiple defenders followed his eyes for a split second. Then he proceeded to throw a no-look seed to WR Xavier Gipson over the middle.

"I love competing, so I love at practice being able to look a guy off and throw behind his head," he said. "I did one to Quincy [Williams]) and to just watch his reaction because he knows I can't believe I let that guy get away with that again and me, it's comedy. It's the beauty in the competition and I love that part. There are so many great teachable moments at practice that I enjoy looking forward to. But when you throw a ball on the money, there's a part of you that wants to act like you've done that before and then a part of you that's like ya, I still got it."

Rodgers is in unchartered territory and he's comfortable in that spot. He is trying to do something that never has been done. A year removed an Achiiles injury and entering a season where he'll turn 41 in December, Rodgers remains a primetime attraction for a team that believes it can contend. For those lining up to stop Rodgers in 2024, he's not going to gently into the night.

"I was lightly recruited in high school," he said. "I went to junior college. There aren't many junior college players to go on to not only play in the NFL but become a Hall of Famer. So, the road not taken has kind of been my path the entire way, begin an underdog and being an afterthought at times has been fuel to my fire. You can always find ways to motivate yourself and a lot of times you just make shit up to give yourself a little extra fuel to the fire, but I enjoy being counted out. And like I said (in my news conference), I'm not just trying to coast into irrelevance.

"I'm trying to play at the highest level, and I was talking to a buddy yesterday. I said if I didn't think we could win the Super Bowl and I could win the MVP – then I wouldn't be playing. And that's the order of goals. But if I didn't think I could play at the highest level and be the best player in the league and lead this team to a Super Bowl, then I wouldn't' be playing. I don't want to hold on and be an afterthought and be a shell."

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